Event recap: How to create a culture for digital innovation

We welcomed a full house at last week’s event at Rainmaking Loft on “How to create a culture for digital innovation”. We were joined by two very inspiring speakers: Lucy Blair, Director at Motive Unknown & Emma Robertson, Managing Director at Transform Consultancy.

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The crowd gained some very useful takeaways, including:

  • Happiness matters at work! Your freedom of spirit will be much wider & you’ll be more creative.
  • Innovation doesn’t have to be flashy & mould-breaking, it should just be clever & looked at in a different way.
  • Invent before you’re forced to. Digital innovation HAS to be ahead of the game.
  • A la Steve Jobs: Start with the customer and work back toward the technology, not the other way around!

Thank you to both ladies for the wonderful insight.

In case you missed it, here is Emma’s presentation:

And here is Lucy’s:

Many thanks again to our sponsor Startupbootcamp FinTech Accelerator.

Looking forward to seeing you at the next event in October! Keep an eye on our Twitter & subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.

Founder Talk: Nathalie Gaveau from Shopcade

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This week we caught up with entrepreneur Nathalie Gaveau of Shopcade. She discusses creating and selling her first business and recently launching Shopcade in Asia. She also advises women to quit talking about what projects they’re going to do and to get out and do them!

Tell us about Shopcade. 

Shopcade is the world’s first social shopping app. Think Amazon and Facebook infused with fashion, or it is often referred to in the media as a “shoppable Instagram.”

Our community of users can browse through celebrity styles, create wish lists from what’s trending and shop their favourite looks all in one place, with the added bonus of exclusive deals from our huge network of partners.

It is very entertaining and we always keep our content fresh and new, always with our community of users in mind and what they want to see in regard to celebrity trends, general fashion trends and the newest and coolest brands.

Shopcade is web based and mobile – free to download on iOS and Android, but a word of warning, it is addictive.

What inspired you to start Shopcade? 

The concept was born out of innovation – observing new buying and sharing behaviours and understanding how to position commerce around those behaviours.

On a basic level, it’s about the marriage of content and commerce. I saw a lot of sites that were e-commerce, but lacking content and lacking quality curation. There was no one site for e-commerce that was social and it wasn’t quite working on larger social media platforms.

What have been your biggest challenges being an entrepreneur? 

The biggest challenge is to focus and to smartly do less. When you’re running your own tech company, there are always a million things that you could be doing and suggestions come in from everyone, everywhere. But you can’t do everything. It’s about addressing the business aspects that are in line with the users.

What have been your biggest challenges being a woman in an industry driven by men? 

I am a female entrepreneur in a male driven industry, but it really doesn’t matter. The great thing about the web is that the industry doesn’t care what gender you are. It’s about content creation, transactions and data. The Internet is completely open to opportunity for anyone – young, old, male or female.

Fashion technology is a hot market right now. What sets Shopcade apart from the rest? 

I envision Shopcade as the global social fashion app. It’s great to see what musicians, bloggers and fashion influencers are wearing – that kind of content is everywhere, but we’ve taken it up a notch and connected that content to e-commerce. Our community of nearly one million users can immediately purchase the looks they’re inspired by from the over 150,000 brands that we have on the site via our own e-commerce offering or through our vast affiliate network that includes everyone from Motel Rocks to Topshop to Liberty.

We’re also using our data at Shopcade to tailor the experience across a wide array of functions to make it more interesting for the community. Shopcade is also becoming a top marketing platform for brands.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments in your entrepreneurial journey so far? 

My entrepreneurial journey is about proactiveness. I create opportunities by turning my thoughts into action and build international teams to deliver plans.

Creating the ‘eBay of France,’ PriceMinister, building it up and then selling it with my business partner Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet was incredible and put me on the map as not just a female tech entrepreneur, but one of the most successful tech entrepreneurs in all of Europe. At the time of creation, the dot-com bubble had just burst, so e-commerce wasn’t a popular topic. The difficult climate actually helped because it prevented us from making the mistakes of the others before us. It was at PriceMinister that I discovered my love for the web. It combines the creative and analytical – right brain and left brain.

When we sold PriceMinister in 2010, we were one of the biggest e-commerce exits in Europe. But there was no way that I was going to stop working. That’s where Shopcade comes in.

At Shopcade I’m building upon what I learned in the sector, but adapting to the new shopping environment: visual, mobile, personalized and social. Shopcade is also very international and we made it scalable from the start.

The greatest success at Shopcade so far has been the launch of our mobile app. This made a significant difference in active engaged users daily. Users are now logging in daily to check out what is trending, even when they’re not shopping. It’s also starting to become a content destination in its own right, which is really exciting. The launch of the mobile app has helped make us focus on simplicity more too and end user benefits.

We’ve also just launched in India – setting up a satellite Shopcade team there, and we will be launching in Tokyo later in the year.

What advice would you give to girls/women interested in joining tech or startups?

Women and girls that are interested in tech just need to start. The most important thing that I can advise is to stop talking about projects. If you have a project in mind, you should do it. Tech is still a fairly young industry and if you have good ideas and can realise them, people don’t really care if you are a woman. Both the tech industry and the web are very open, young and meritocratic, making them great environments for women.

Apply now for Lady Pitch Night, hosted by Girls in Tech Paris

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Are you a female founder of a European-based startup? Consider applying for Lady Pitch Night.

On September 23rd, the 4th annual European Lady Pitch Night will be hosted by Girls in Tech Paris and Orange.

The criteria to apply for Lady Pitch Night is pretty simple: You must be a female founder or co-founder of a startup headquartered in Europe and have been operational for 6-36 months.

5 finalists will be selected to travel to Paris (for free) on September 23rd to pitch for an international jury made of entrepreneurs, experts and investors.

The following influential people were part of past judging panels:  Gilles Babinet (business angel), Marie-Christine Levet (investor at Jaina Capital), Annina Svensson (Industry Head Entertainment at Google and ex Country Manager at Spotify), Claudia Helming (CEO Dawanda),  Alena Osipova (Investor at Fast Lane Ventures), Catherine Barba (founder of Digital Commerce Factory).

The winners of the competition will not only get access to a lot of media visibility, but will also walk away with a number of exclusive prizes, including tickets for European conferences like LeWeb, mentoring from famous European incubators, and more.

To apply, just fill out this questionnaire. The deadline has been extended to July 31st – good luck!

Founder Talk: Brynne Herbert of MOVE Guides

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This week’s Founder Talks series features Brynne Herbert, CEO and Founder of MOVE Guides. Read on as she talks self confidence, not taking things personally, and the journey to creating an award-winning global mobility solution.

Tell us about MOVE Guides.

MOVE Guides envisions a world where moving global talent is easy. Partnering with companies to make this a reality, MOVE Guides offers the first ever cloud-based technology system for the $50bn talent mobility industry dominated by traditional offline incumbents.

Our unique Talent Mobility Cloud is a tri-sided, transformational HR technology platform that combines employee move planning, HR management and global vendors to deliver a dramatically improved employee experience and millions of dollars in cost savings to companies.

 What inspired you to start MOVE Guides?

Before starting MOVE Guides, I lived throughout Asia and India. I gained a unique understanding of global talent in multinational companies. As an expat on the move, I would constantly watch my friends and colleagues navigate the same cumbersome and exhausting relocation challenges.

After an extremely painful move from Asia to London, I realised that a massive gap in the global mobility industry was an opportunity to disrupt the marketplace. I was determined to create the first ever HR technology service for global mobility that appealed to increasingly global companies, a changing employee demographic and a tech savvy workforce.

What have been your biggest challenge being a woman in an industry driven by men?

It frustrates me that more times than not, I will look around a 50-100 person room and realise that I am one out of four women there to pitch their business or meet with VC funders.  When completing my first round of funding I actually had someone say to me that they would not fund me because I was a woman led tech startup.  Sadly this happens a lot. Only 4.2% of businesses that receive VC funding are female led. While this didn’t stop me, I am sure this discourages many women from following through with their startup.

What do you think can be done to bring more women into tech?

SV not only has a demographic problem but a culture problem. I believe that as more women break through into the tech industry, more will follow to challenge the status quo and change culture to be much more woman friendly. Society also needs to play a bigger role in encouraging young women to enter STEM programs and seek higher education that provides them with the skills they need to succeed in SV. I love groups like Girls in Tech and Girls Who Code that empower girls to seek opportunities in tech and engineering.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments in your entrepreneurial journey so far?

Over the past two years, my team and I have grown MOVE Guides from a small London-based startup to an award-winning global mobility solution, supporting moves to 100+ cities across six continents. This in itself is an incredible accomplishment and is a true testament to the quality of our services, an understanding of the marketplace and the dedicated team behind MOVE Guides.

One of my proudest moments along this journey was when we closed our seed-funding round from Notion Capital and NEA, bringing our total funding to $2.4 million. This was a huge accomplishment and provided us with the resources and expertise that we needed to accelerate growth and be a champion in global mobility. Also, this year we were very excited to be featured by Startup.co.uk as one of the top 100 new businesses in London. They even quoted us as “the group that make relocating more like taking a holiday.”

How do you describe your leadership style?

I am very direct with my team and believe that transparency is the best way to approach a successful business. I try to lead confidently and assertively, which I think is important for companies like MOVE Guides, that are still in the early stages of success. I run a company with only 15 employees and sell to FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies that have never heard of us and have never even heard of the category that we sell in. This type of disruption in the marketplace requires direct communications and a strong voice to get people behind it.

If you could be anything other than the CEO of MOVE Guides what would it be?

I absolutely love to travel, meet new people and experience new cultures, so it would have to be something that spanned across cities, languages and continents. I would probably look into opening a chain of hotels around the world or develop an app that supports world travellers.

What advice would you give your 18 year old self?

When I was 18, I was a member of the Ivy League Championship gymnastics team, always on the move and competing. My experiences in gymnastics really shaped my work ethic and drive. That said, if I were to go back in time and talk to my 18 year old self, I would tell her that there is so much more ahead of you and that the best is yet to come. Savour your time and independence in college and don’t forget to have fun!

What advice would you give to women interested in starting a new business?

If you see a void in the marketplace, don’t wait for someone else to fill it. Be self-confident, believe in your product and fight for it.

Also, don’t take things personally. People are going to challenge your every move and try to bring you down. You need to be strong and be able to compartmentalise emotions, tune out those that do not support you but learn to accept and appreciate constructive criticise.

Fundraising & Startups: An Evening with Female VCs and Entrepreneurs

Last night, we were delighted to gather a panel of female investors and entrepreneurs at Barclays Fintech Accelerator space in Whitechapel to discuss the process of fundraising for our members. Here is a brief recap of the event, the take aways of the discussion and short snippet of the wise words spoken last night by some of the greatest experienced business women found in the UK at the moment.

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We could not have dreamt of a better panel to discuss the topic of fundraising. Two well achieved women VCs and three women entrepreneurs that either have just closed rounds of investments, worked in venture capital or exited companies.

Excited of the panel of speakers Positive vibe in the room Amazing people Guest

Investors and entrepreneurs uncovered the veil of how one ask for (a lot of) money to scale a business; what makes a good pitch, how much to raise at first, when to raise and from who.

Stick to your diea Eleeinwhat they look for - GuestSupply demand GUEST Investing as a relationship - Traction Intro are king

The panel talk was followed by good questions, popcorns and drinks. Thank you for all of you who came to listen, share and network.

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A special thank you to our Sponsor Techstars London who has opened application for its accelerator and to our amazing panelists. We had the exciting presence of Tech City News, Sirius Program representatives as well as some TechStars fellow.

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You can find the pictures of the night on our Facebook page and keep yourself up to date on our latest news and events via our Twitter @GirlsinTech_UK. We will be back in September with a nice “back to school” party & networking event! Have a great summer!

 

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Founder Talk: Grace Regan of Clippet

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There is no doubt that more and more women are starting to take on entrepreneurial roles in business, which is inspiring other women to have the courage to get out there and start their own thing.

What’s even more inspiring is seeing some of those women as young as Grace Regan, 23-year-old co-founder of audio news app Clippet.

We caught up with her this week on working in startups, what inspired her to do this app, and why traditional news outlets need to change the way they do things.

Tell us about Clippet.

Clippet is an audio news app, which mines news from around the world to curate and create audio ‘clippets’ that last no more than 60 seconds.

We’re aimed at young professionals, university students and metropolitan commuters. We know our users seek a deeper understanding of the issues of the day but don’t have enough time to wade through various news platforms. We therefore do the hard work for them, curating, researching, writing and recording short digestible news clippets, which keep our listeners up–to–date with what’s going on in the world. 

What are your thoughts on business being so content marketing focussed in 2014? Did that inspire you to start Clippet?

I think the trend towards content–focused business is a reaction against previous tendencies for tech–led companies to simply aggregate 3rd party content and regurgitate it without thinking about the consumer and their needs. I was inspired to start Clippet because I believe news journalism needs a facelift – it’s become stale, old fashioned and irrelevant to a modern audience. The content of traditional media has become almost impenetrable; it’s incredibly time–consuming to pick apart. Why not just put information in the simplest, clearest and most conversational way possible? This is the ethos behind Clippet’s content. I think this is a general trend amongst new media content. I was excited to read Sir Howard Stringer’s report on BBC News and his suggestion that the BBC must understand it’s audience more and make their news more relevant to them. In order to engage people with your content, it must connect with them on a personal level. 

What have been your biggest challenges being an entrepreneur?

I think the biggest challenge has been learning to know when you’ve made a mistake and act upon it. So much of business relies on gut instincts. There were occasions in the early days of Clippet when myself and my business partner circled around taking action/changing direction on something because we didn’t trust our natural instincts enough. We’re getting better at this! It’s also challenging to keep pushing yourself to improve when there’s no (or few) people breathing down your neck (like in a normal job!). I’m learning to constantly challenge myself and push myself to keep improving.

What have been your biggest challenges being a woman in an industry driven by men?

To be honest, I haven’t noticed my sex getting in the way of my day–to–day work. I suppose both the journalism and tech industry are dominated by men and this has been very noticeable (especially when you go to panel discussions with industry experts and there’s no women!). The fact that we’ve built our own team of young journalists, producers and developers means that traditional gender hierarchies simply don’t exist within Clippet. That being said, I do find that ‘business talk’ and ‘tech talk’ is often a domain reserved for men. I’m often given a surprised look whenever anyone hears that I work in the app world and I think it’s this assumption that women and tech don’t mix that needs to change.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments in your entrepreneurial journey so far?

I think it would be spending months and months researching and developing our audio content (tone, style, format etc.) and coming up with a formula I’m proud of (although we’re constantly developing and improving it!). The most satisfying part of this has been being able to pass the ‘Clippet style’ onto our team of journalists and editors and watch them learn and grow into the Clippet mind–set.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Hard work pays off! Around this age I really began putting my all into everything (I was a bit of a disorganised mess before!). Looking back, I’ve realised that every achievement (no matter how small) so far has been down to pure grit, perseverance and hard work.

What advice would you give to girls/women interested in joining tech or startups?

Just do it. Ignore all the preconceptions of tech being a male–dominated world (it will never change if girls continue to think like this). There’s nothing more rewarding than working for a start up – it’s a lot of work but it’s worth it. Also, keep challenging yourself – whether it’s trying something new at school or leaving your current job to pursue something you’d rather be doing.

 

 

UK gets entrepreneurial boost

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photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc

photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc

Bleak times no more. Data shows that Britain’s enterprising spirit is stronger than ever.

Many organisations, including StartUp Britain, Rockstar Youth and the government’s own Start Up Loans scheme (read our interview with the creative director) reported a raise in the applications, especially young people between 16-30. In fact, the Prince’s Trust startup helpline received +42% in 2012 alone.

Furthermore, since 2008, UK’s youngest entrepreneurs increased by a third and more than half of the new businesses were founded with less than a grand.

The internet has the potential to make entrepreneurs of us all – Annika Small, Director of Nominet Trust.

The weak economy and lack of job security, prompts more people to bet on themselves rather than seeking opportunities with bigger companies. “If you want the economy to change, we need more people to stand up, be bold and brave and create the jobs that are not there right now,” entrepreneur Kieza De Sousa, 19, told to the BBC.

And it seems that women have responded positively to the call for change. Figures highlight the growing role women are playing.

Women-led businesses annually contribute a whopping £70 billion to the British economy.

In the UK however there is a clear enterprise gap between men and women. Researches indicate that an extra 150,000 businesses would be created if female ownership levels were the same as men.

The UK ranks only sixth out of 17 countries for female entrepreneursa new study has shown, even though a recent report released by Sage UK revealed that half of young women aged 18-24 were keen to start a business, many wanting to break away from the traditional 9 to 5 to pursue their passions.

More women in the boardrooms bring positive change at a wider scale too. Bringing women into businesses creates what Michael Porter and Mark Kramer of the Harvard Business School call “shared value”—it helps companies while helping communities too. 

There is no doubt, that the increasing numbers of women in the economy has helped fuel significant growth everywhere. And economies that are making the shift more effectively and rapidly are dramatically outperforming those that have not. – Hillary Clinton

Feeling inspired yet? If you look for some more motivation, check out our Founder Talks and interviews with the top Girls In Tech. And you if you want to share your journey with us just get in touch on Twitter & Facebook.

Recap: Rooftop networking at White Bear Yard

One week ago, we enjoyed a lovely evening of speed networking thanks to White Bear Yard who kindly offered their rooftop.

We kicked off with a speech from our Managing Director, Katy.

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And promptly set off for some speed networking, 3 minutes at a time!

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Luckily we got to disturb a few of our favourite ladies for some group pics…

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Thank you to all who attended! It was surely a success. Stay tuned for details of our next event on fundraising for your startup, 25th June!

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Founder talk: Sinead Mac Manus

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Sinead Mac Manus Fluency

Every month, we catch up with one of London’s brilliant startup founders. This week we chatted to Sinead Mac Manus.

Sinead is not only the CEO and founder of Fluency but also an experienced trainer, speaker and author. She founded her digital wellbeing company 8fold in 2010 and launched the Digital Academy, training low income women with digital skills, in 2011. She is a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, the RSA, and an UnLtd Award Winner.

Q: How did you come up with your startup idea?

A:  My background is a digital coach and trainer to small businesses. For the past four years I have been working with them to overcome stresses about engaging in digital and showing them the potential that the web and social media can have for their business. But many of my clients were just too busy to implement much of my advice so I back in 2011 I saw a gap in the market for providing outsourced digital services and with help from UnLtd and then the Nominet Trust, started training low income women with these skills.

Q: What are the company’s objectives?

A: Fluency is a learning platform and crowd-work marketplace that gets young people into work. Myself and my co-founder Ian, founded the company to solve two big problems: the fact that there are limited work opportunities at the moment for young people, both here in the UK and across Europe, and the lack of digital expertise in small businesses in the UK.

Ian and I met at the beginning of last year and we bonded over a passion to help young people get into work. Youth unemployment remains stubbornly high here in the UK and is catastrophic in many European countries such as Greece. Spain and Italy. If we don’t provide work opportunities for this generation of young people, then we run the risk of a ‘lost generation’ with knock-on effects in communities for decades.

We were lucky enough to be accepted onto Bethnal Green Ventures technology incubator in July and have been building the platform since then. We teach our young people in-demand skills such as how to build a website, how to market a company on social media or how to optimise content for Google. Our learners complete digital challenges and collect badges to demonstrate their learning. But what’s really unique about our platform is that as our learners get mastery in a subject, they become eligible for work on the crowd-sourcing platform. In this way they can ‘learn and earn’ at the same time.

Q: What have been your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?

A: One of the biggest challenges we have faced is one facing most startups – raising investment. There is a cliff that you fall off once the incubator money runs out and it’s takes a long time to raise investment – I wish I had know just how long when I started! We’ve gotten over this by just getting out there and talking to as many investors as possible and we are confident that we will close our seed round in the next month or so.

Another challenge as a startup founder and CEO is just the amount of things to do on a daily basis! One minute I’m talking to investors, the next I’m mentoring my staff, the next I’m poring over cash flows. I’ve always been a productive worker but this job requires that you are very strategic with your time – something I am learning about every day.

The last challenge we have faced is people not understanding that we are a social business – a commercial company yes, but one that wants to change people’s lives for the better. We’re not a charity but creating social impact is at the heart of every decision we make. I don’t think there are enough successful social ventures out there to point to and say, hey look there’s a new way of doing business, but we intend to be one and lead the path for other social tech ventures.

 Q: On the other hand, what have been your biggest accomplishments?

 A: One of our major recent successes is getting investment from Forward Foundation which has meant we can work with more youth partners and hire a key member of staff. We were successful because I had built a relationship with the Foundation long before we approached them for funding and we share the same values in help young people from disadvantaged background succeed.

Another thing we are very proud of is working in partnership with The Prince’s Trust. They have been hugely supportive of Fluency especially as we are a new startup. We will hopefully be working together to ensure that the young people that come through their programmes have the right skills needed in the workplace and we can deliver that for them. This relationship came from a tweet so it shows the importance of social media!

Our last success is more of a personal one for me – it’s having the good fortune to meet my co-founder Ian. I have worked by myself for such a long time that I wasn’t sure how I would cope with a business partner but it’s amazing to have some else to share the highs and the lows with. And he’s an amazing coder too!

Q: What are your thoughts on the future of women in technology? 

A: I personally have not had any discrimination for being a female co-founder and CEO and we try to maintain a gender balance in the company, though with our new Head of Digital Learning role we have now swung back towards the male! When I first started going to events at Google Campus in 2012 I remember standing out as a women but now it tends to be 50/50.

I would like to see more young girls and women take up careers in technology, entrepreneurship and digital and I think it’s the responsibility of women in the industry to speak out about how great technology is to work in and actively mentor younger women. I think getting young people, of both genders, interesting in, and exciting by, digital is the way to go and something we are heavily promoting at Fluency.

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