…We have a more compassionate view of the world. We care more about people. Woman can create an image that to be a boss, to be a CEO, you don’t need to be rude, greedy, be “macho”. You can be powerful and be good. I believe women has more capacity to show that.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Araujo. She founded the app Safe Circle — an innovative safety check app that values your circle of friends. She is a strong believer in the power of community building and the power of entrepreneurs to change the world and she carries that in her work. While she is building her company, she is making an effort to stop the “macho” culture and to show that a successful company can be caring to the employees and partners. It’s not all about profit, but also to build a strong, happy and healthy career and work environment.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I’m originally from Brazil, where I got a Bachelor’s degree in Social Communication with emphasis in Journalism. I moved to the USA in 2011 and I did work with Journalism in America for a little while but then I felt that this wasn’t my path. I bounced around a few jobs, specially in restaurants — I did many positions in hospitality, from milk-shake maker to bar manager. Then I decided to study programming. I never thought I would like it, I was never good in math or anything like that in high school. However I really enjoyed it and I love the startup mindset and community.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I totally changed my life. Moved from NYC to LA, even though I didn’t know anyone here. I’ve been meeting so many people during this Journey. People with energy and strength to follow their dreams and ambitious. It’s been very exciting and fulfilling.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was preparing for a job interview once and I read that the director was a big fan of football. So I spent hours memorizing football facts to cause a surprising impression and create a conversation during the interview. But when I tried to start talking about football, I realized I wasted a lot of time researching about soccer, because in Brazil we call soccer football. And he noticed that and it was a big laugh in the room.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
That’s very true! I can be very controlling and try to be self-sufficient. For example, I had to edit a video, so instead of looking for someone to edit it for me, I spent hours watching tutorials on how to edit and got a editing software just so I wouldn’t have to ask someone to do something for me. But turns out, we can’t be good at everything. I did the MVP and it wasn’t very good. It was functional but the UX wasn’t quite there. So I caved and approached an UX developer to work on it with me and I regret not doing it earlier. Lucas Pacheco made my app so much better! I learned my lesson. Now I have marketing and financial consultants and people helping with customers outreach.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is amazing.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
Trust yourself and trust others. We tend to be very protective of our ideas, and we should be at some level. But you also have to let it create wings. Trust that you will find people that will help you. Also, don’t hold on to your ideas without taking action for too long. I think of ideas like bouncing invisible clouds. It will land on your head and stay there for a while, but if you don’t take action it will bounce again to try to find a head that will make use of it. That’s why you hear people saying ‘I had that same idea before!’. Maybe you did, but you didn’t use it so it bounced away.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I try to. Everybody that I work with I make a point to create a good atmosphere and to be fair. I do my best to never make decisions out of greed nor fear. And I help whoever I can. I don’t see other female coders or anyone for that matter as competitors. There’s a space for everyone and the more successful we are, the bigger that space will be and will fit more and more people in it.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
Women still lives in inherit fear and sense of inferiority even when we don’t realize it. Also, we are creating more opportunities at work but the lives at home many times don’t follow the change. So we are gaining more responsibility and more work to do in our professional life and still holding all of the house and family duties we have always had. There’s no balance and women end up getting burned out. It’s a culture that it’s changing little by little but we still have a long way to go. And many times it’s in our head. It’s hard to let go of what we learned what is to be a woman. Many times we want a professional life while is very hard to let go of the “house/wife/mom” work. We need to make that balance. But I believe the next generation of professionals will have a much better hand on that because they are being raised by the generation that started a big wave of the change.
Can you share with our readers what you are doing to help empower women to become founders?
Spread the word and be an example. Show when you fail and when you succeed and what you learned in both instances. When I talk to other women and founders, I try to stay truthful and not try to “sell myself”. If we create this image of perfection it only contributes to make people think it’s harder than it is and be more fearful. But if you show that everybody is learning along the way. That it’s ok to make mistakes and to grow from it. To restart. It will make it more tangible for others and they will feel more inclined to try.
This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
We have a more compassionate view of the world. We care more about people. Woman can create an image that to be a boss, to be a CEO, you don’t need to be rude, greedy, be “macho”. You can be powerful and be good. I believe women has more capacity to show that.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share 5 things that can be done or should be done to help empower more women to become founders? If you can, please share an example or story for each.
- A more family culture in the workplace. Having a baby in the office doesn’t kill your productivity. Having to leave to pick up your kids from you does not make you a bad employee. You can get your work done and well, specially if you are building a company that understands that the people working in it are humans, and not machines.
- The same for investors — believe that women can be as efficient as man, that we can be strong in the meeting room and can argue about our beliefs just as well.
- Stop the “macho CEO” culture.
- Do not b afraid to fail. Man fail all the time and they don’t beat themselves up so much over it. Listen to the feedback, learn, and try again.
- Ask! Women sometimes are so afraid of asking for what they need and want. Maybe because we are so afraid to show our weakness or deeply inside we don’t think anyone will hear. But it’s not true. A lot of times asking for help is the best choice.
- Once you make it, even if it’s not all the way to the top but you are successful., don’t forget your struggle and mentor the next generation. Pay it forward.
- If you are a woman in position of power, make sure to don’t fall into our inherited traps of patriarchy, and listen to the women coming up in your company and help to give them a voice.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
My dream is to start a programming school for underprivileged kids and teens. I believe the tech industry is one that can truly bring family out of the poverty and change their lives for generations.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would love to meet Barbara Corcoran! Would also be a dream to meet Kirsten Green from Forerunner Ventures, Aileen Lee from Cowboy Venture and Gwynne Shotwell from Space X.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.