Levelling The Playing Field: Women In Digital

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This post was written by Tom Channell, one of the contributors from the Social Media Week London global communications team, and originally appeared here

Social media week is all about creating conversations which enable us to become better marketers. Thursday’s first HQ event looked at one of the fundamental flaws of business, the lack of women in the working environment. I got a chance to speak with Sally and Alice from Girls in Tech London about how the landscape is changing.

What is Girls in Tech?

Girls in Tech are a global network seeking to empower women by providing them with more visibility. We were founded in 2007 by Adriana Gascoigne and have since grown to over 8,500 members worldwide.

What are your experiences of working in tech as a female?

It’s an amazing industry to work in. There’s been a steady increase in the number of women attending Social Media Week each year which shows that the landscape is really changing.

Women often have better interpersonal skills than men which is a huge advantage for client facing roles, in our Girls in Tech community we have many successful female engineers and coders who are able to create new innovative platforms and lead teams successfully matching tech and inter personal skills equally.

Do you think digital is one of the best industries to work in as a woman?

Certainly. It’s a pioneering landscape which is open to new ideas and creation regardless of gender. There used to be a perception that all people in tech are geeky guys but that’s completely changed. To be successful in digital you don’t need to be male, you need to be authentic, innovative and the courage to use your skill set confidently.

What still needs to change?

We need a meritocracy, people should get jobs based on merit not gender. You can’t control what anyone else is doing, so it’s important to focus on your own skill set and being excellent in all that you do.

Social Media Week invited us to attend the event for which we’re really grateful. As an organisation our goals are to encourage women in technology and give them more visibility. Social Media Week has sponsored former members to attend which has been great as well.

“Social Media Week has provided an insight into the world of virtual marketing, from targeting specific audiences to it’s impact on society, it’s such an amazing opportunity,” said Alice Parsons, student, blogger and content creator.

Schools also need to be more open minded when it comes to digital. I think there’s often a culture of fear that the internet is made up of trolls when in reality it’s full of opportunities for young men and women. We need to get more people coding in schools, and with new initiatives I believe it’s going to become a more essential skill set in the future. Individuals like Alice are an example of how it’s all changing.

What are your predictions for women in tech in the next 10 years?

I’m extremely excited and hopeful for the future. We’ll be looking at a different world in ten years where there’s a more level playing field. Businesses will need to collaborate more with women as they are recognised more and more as significant online consumers and influencers. I think women in tech will use their skill sets to not only to be great entrepreneurs, but also to influence social and political thought. I really do believe all things are possible.

Angela Bates: How to apply & succeed with IBM’s Global Entrepreneurship Program

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Girls in Tech met with Angela Bates, the leader of IBM Global Entrepreneur and Startup programmes for the UK and Ireland, to discuss entrepreneurship and tips to successfully apply to IBM Global Entrepreneur and Startup program.

Find out more about the program and meet Angela at Girls Night Out IBM networking event this Thursday October 2nd 2014. The event is organized by IBM in partnership with three major female London tech groups together: TLA London Tech Women, Stemettes and naturally Girls in Tech!

There has been a lot of talk about women leadership recently. What does it mean for you to be a “leader” in your work? 

In my role as leader of the IBM Global Entrepreneur programme, it’s about bringing people together to do new, innovative things. I connect entrepreneurs with investors, startup organisations, clients and other IBM’ers to help build their software solutions and grow their business in partnership with IBM. It’s also important to be visible, deliver on your promises, plan your career and manage your work-life balance.

What do you perceive being the common trait of success from the members in your programme? Can you describe the moment when, after entering the programme, they start maturing and taking off with their business? Is there a common pattern? 

There are a number of criteria I look for in a technology startup, but foremost is they need a really great team. A team that understands their customers and the problem they are trying to solve and how uniquely their solution fixes those problems.They also have partnering in their DNA and actively seek to build an ecosystem around them to keep them on track. We understand that a great team sometimes needs to pivot their business a few times before they become successful, so IBM Global Entrepreneur offers a 3-year technology partnership with tech startups. During this time we explore how integration of IBM technology into the startups’ solution might opens up additional revenue streams for us both.

If you had three good pieces of advice for girls starting a company what would it be? 

Be relentlessly curious and actively seek opportunities to build your ecosystem and take advice.

Embrace change as it allows you to grow the business and help your company stay competitive

Don’t be afraid to fail – successful businesses often pivot several times before making it big

What are your tips to apply successfully to the program?

To apply for the Global Entrepreneur progamme, your business needs to be privately held and less than five years old. It also needs to be actively engaged in or will develop a software-based product or service. Think about how your software solution aligns with IBM growth initiatives, such as cloud, big data, analytics, mobile, social, and security. You should also consider what you are looking for from a technology partnership with IBM.

What are things you have learnt in your career that you wished you had known earlier?

It doesn’t matter how good you in your field, without guidance, advice, or mentorship it’s impossible to reach the top!

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Meet Angela this Thursday 2nd of October at Shoreditch Village Hall for a night of female tech networking to learn more about opportunities for Girls in the London Tech Industry as well as with IBM. Your free ticket here.

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.

We’ve just launched on Meetup.com!

We’re very excited to announce we’ve finally set up a Meetup Group, so now following Girls in Tech London events will be easier than ever.

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Please join us and check out the details of our next event on 3rd September!

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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Eileen, Kate, Alexandra, Kelsey and Linsey

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.

Sirius Presence Eileen Thank you

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.

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