On a recent evening, Caroline Scheinfeld ’06, like many young New York City professionals, was getting ready to go to SoulCycle, the popular studio cycling exercise class. But instead of attending a session for a good workout, Caroline was running an event organized by 3WCircle, the company she founded in the spring of 2013.
The 3WCircle motto is: “We swap life stories before business cards.” Caroline explains she launched her business because she was disappointed by the limitations of available networking opportunities for women. She yearned to create a space where women could not only share information about their careers, but also consider different ways to measure success, including relationships with loved ones and overall well-being. “We should be leaning into ourselves, instead of what society wants us to lean into,” Caroline explains, in a nod to the oft-referenced title of Facebook C.O.O. Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In.
The three W’s of 3WCircle stand for “what women want.” The “circle” refers to the format of the company’s signature events—chats where women meet to sit in a circle and exchange ideas around a theme such as “pefectionism” or “priorities.” It’s a configuration familiar to Caroline from her days at Spence. She recalls that she particularly enjoyed history and other humanities classes, which were always seated in a circle. As the community of women involved with 3WCircle has grown to close to 300, the types of events have expanded too, so that a gathering might involve a yoga class or the recent SoulCycle evening.
Caroline didn’t always envision herself as an entrepreneur. At Cornell, she double majored in cyber science and apparel design management, and after graduating, went on to work at a small venture capital firm that focused on technology startups. In that job, her area of focus was women working in fashion and beauty, and she started attending several networking events. While she loved connecting with other women, she explains she “became aware of what was lacking” at such gatherings and realized that she could become an entrepreneur herself.
3WCircle has two employees in addition to Caroline. It has been covered in outlets such as AlleyWatch, and Caroline was recently asked to speak at an Interschool class called “Financial Nutrition,” led by Melissa Donohue, a financial education and entrepreneurship specialist who runs a company of the same name. Caroline hopes to expand the work of 3WCircle to other cities, to develop additional platforms where women can connect and also, to write a book about the lessons learned by women of her generation.