Female business founders panel discusses challenges, share advice

Felix Kalvesmaki

Four female UT students and alumna sat on the Stories of Female Founders panel Tuesday to discuss starting their own businesses and being a woman in the field of technology and entrepreneurship. 

The event took place as part of The Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency’s annual Entrepreneurship Week, a week of gatherings meant to help UT students work in the world of startups, according to the organization’s website. 

Panel moderator Sanika Phanse said she wanted to be part of the event because she experienced a lot of isolation as a woman in the business and technology fields.

“(It’s) something that I noticed pretty early on,” electrical engineering junior Phanse said. “Going on and working in the industry and looking at the statistics, I found that 56% of women actually drop out of the tech industry after 10 to 15 years of being in it.”

UT alumna Corina Frankie, founder and CEO of Brand Besties, an event staffing and promotional modeling agency, said her perspective on her business changed after interacting with women in the business world. She said her biggest challenge was trying to remain true to herself without comparing herself to her female colleagues. 

Frankie said after talking to other women in the industry, she decided to expand her business nationally. 

“For years, I was making money,” Frankie said. “I was living my best life. Then I met other women in entrepreneurship, and I found myself in closed circles talking about employee counts … I thought: ‘Wait, am I doing it all wrong?’”


Frankie said she began having challenges following changes made to her business and realized the value of prioritizing herself.

“I think the biggest challenge is to ask yourself, ‘What do you want right now? What is bringing you happiness?’” Frankie said. 

Communication and leadership sophomore Trenola Brooks, who attended the panel, said it is important for women to feel empowered to take up space in industries they’ve been pushed out of historically.

“I don’t think about tech when I wake up every day, but I still know that if I wanted to learn about it and I wanted to do something in it, I could,” Brooks said. 

Brooks said the industry still needs more women, specifically women of color.

“Where I’m from, you don’t see a lot of women of color having a job in that world, and I think it’s something that’s really unique,” Brooks said.