Despite the fact that women-led companies perform 3x better than those led by their male counterparts, they still continue to receive significantly less pay, with venture capital investment for women-led companies being less than .025% of the total investments made in male-led companies.
The benefits that the inclusion of women have in the workforce environment are limitless. From diverse communication styles to multidimensional interests and increased emotional intelligence, women have been bringing a lot to the table for quite some time.
So as a result, I’ve reached out and interviewed eight female founders in tech to celebrate the progress that’s been made and to help facilitate open dialogue surrounding these contemporary issues of diversity.
1. Katrina Lake
Harvard Business major who founded a tech fashion outlet Stitch Fix which recently went public.
Katrina Lake was rejected for being whimsical when she first presented her now multimillion dollar business to venture capitalists a few years before. A strong woman with clear aims and ironclad education to support it, Katrina’s Harvard MBA and B.S in Economics from Stanford certificates are proofs of her vision.
“I care really deeply that there aren’t enough women in leadership. I was trying to look for a company like the one that I would create to join…I felt like I could do super-interesting things with data and technology and retail”.
Founder of Blavity, a popular website by and for the black millennial audience
Morgan created the website Blavity as a way to give a voice to black millennials, whom she felt were widely underrepresented in mainstream media. The website touches on topics everywhere from celebrity gossip to minorities in tech. When discussing the obstacles of entrepreneurship, DeBaun stated,
“It’s the job of startup founders to take risks, push the envelope, and ask things that don’t yet exist. I view any type of decline as a learning opportunity. A ‘no’ is just another step to a ‘yes.’ It’s part of the process and something that should be appreciated and respected”.
Grainne is the Founder of Viddyad, a real-time video content creation and distribution technology platform in San Francisco. Sir Richard Branson Awarded Viddyad the Extreme Tech Challenge Award for Advertising Technology at CES in 2017 and Grainne was named L’Oreal Digital Innovator of the Year as well as being the first female winner of both WebSummit, MBA Global Entrepreneur and the PWC’s Innovation Award.
Grainne’s advice’ “Live your life from the inside out. Don’t live your life according to what you think society wants. If you do that, you give away your power by seeking permission from others to be a projection of that false self. That’s not leadership and it’s not living life to a fully empowered you. Instead, know your “self”. Be your “self”. Own it and live it from the inside out with authenticity.
“The key to success is keeping your eyes wide open – physically wide open all the time and looking around. Never have tunnel vision to the extent that you can’t innovate or change your mind!”
Shelley Worrell is the founder of CaribBeing, which she created after working as in global business development and strategic partnerships for brands such as Google, Time Warner and A+E Television Networks.
CaribBeing is cultural venture which showcases “outstanding work by Caribbean creators” in various disciplines. Their immersive programs have garnered international attention, including praise from various high-profile organizations such as the Brooklyn Museum, Caribbean Tourism Organization, TriBeCa Film Festival, AirBnB and more.
“Caribbean culture has touched every corner of the globe however we are often underrepresented in the mainstream media; there is a huge gap to fill. CaribBeing is on a mission to to deliver thought-provoking, culturally relevant content and experiences both online and offline.”
Danae Ringmann (Indiegogo Co-Founder) is a sharp entrepreneur who made fundraising open to the public after honing her professional eye in finance and business for six years. In the past 10 years, with the help of her co-founders, Slava Rubin and Eric Shell, the platform has launched 800,000+ campaigns that have raised $1.3 Billion from more than 9 Million backers representing 230 countries!
“If you think being a leader is about having some agenda, it’s not. Being a leader is actually being completely with who you are and speaking from that place, giving feedback, sharing opinions from that place. That’s why people follow you”.
Lichtenstern’s background in business and filmmaking led her to found CINESHARES. She additionally runs an “impact-oriented” micro-VC firm and recently established the Sacramento chapter of the Founder Institute.
When it comes to moving the needle on diversity in tech, Lichtenstern believes that real results will come from de-risking entrepreneurship and empowering under-represented founders:
“Don’t beg for crumbs; bake cakes and own the bakeries”.
Laura Behrens Wui
CEO and Co-Founder of Shippo, Laura Behrens Wu created the platform as a solution to her own shipping hassles as an entrepreneur.
In college, Behrens Wu tried her hand at running an e-commerce store. When her business began to thrive, she had to spend more time and money on shipping – so she came up with Shippo to tackle these challenges.
Behrens Wu advocates young leaders to stay committed, optimistic and hard working to reach the aspired goals.
“When I was age six, my family and I moved to China. Seeing poverty as prolific as it was there, at a young age, made me realize how privileged my life had been so far. It made me want to make the most out of it. I have a younger sister. Being an older sister has put me in a leadership role in the family.”
When Locket raised a whopping $3.2 million from investors including Turner Broadcasting and Tyra Banks, they were quickly acquired by mobile shopping startup Wish. Kim went on to create Simple Habit, a wellness app designed to help busy people stress less and live better with over 1000+ guided meditations. The app launched one year ago and has already inspired a community of 1 million users.
“We are making a positive, meaningful difference. Ultimately, we want to help people enjoy the things they care about most — their health, careers, relationships, plus more.”
Despite the plethora of odds being stacked against them, these eight female startup founders still managed to soar sky-high.
There’s no denying the fact that diversity in the tech industry has been slow to catch on, but the success of these young ladies only proves the value that implementing a more diverse workforce can have on not just the tech industry, but on society as a whole.