You’ve probably heard: The future is tech. But the future OF tech is women.
Technology has always been a male dominated industry, but as digital technologies advance – and the world leans into the metaverse and Web 3.0 – women are playing a vital part in shaping the future of tech. And life as we know it.
Don’t let the slow progress of gender equality in the tech industry discourage you. Across every industry, female technologists are breaking down barriers and driving innovation. They’re starting game-changing organizations and bringing incredible solutions to market. Submissions to our recent HPE Hackathon are just one example of this.
We’re here to highlight and celebrate several female-led companies making waves around the world. Join us.
1. maro – an app that helps parents navigate tough conversations
Parents often have enough on their plates as it is (shout out to working mothers in particular!). But maro Co-Founders Lilly Mittenthal and Kenzie Butera Davis noticed a lack of support for parents dealing with difficult ‘growing-up conversations’ with their children. You know, those vital but awkward topics like sex, puberty, sexuality and mental health – issues that can impact child development and mental health long-term.
The maro app is designed to be a parent’s companion, combining engaging digital content with an AI-enabled bot. Research-backed and beautifully designed, this is a valuable tech resource that we can see making a positive impact for generations to come.
Having experienced sexual assault and mental health issues themselves, these inspiring female founders say, “we wish our parents had what we’re creating today… We truly believe it would have made all the difference in our experiences”.
2. Mentorloop – a cloud-based mentoring software platform
The platform utilizes a special algorithm that matches mentees with their ideal mentors, and gives organizations the tools to optimize the program as it progresses. With a focus on employee engagement, retention and development, Mentorloop is allowing companies to support and upskill team members – including those that may fly under the radar and lack development opportunities.
It’s also created a simple and accessible way for skilled workers to give back to the community. For example, Lucy shares an inspiring customer success story:
“Linktree‘s program pairs their employees with people from under-represented groups in tech, including asylum seekers, or women experiencing disadvantage finding work, to learn from Linktree’s diverse set of skills and experience. This empowers employees to contribute to change in our industry in a meaningful way.”
That’s some seriously game-changing impact right there.
(Psst! Girls in Tech runs its Virtual Mentoring Program via Mentorloop – we think it’s great!)
3. Airwallex – financial services for a globalized world
Lucy Liu (no, not the actress) co-founded Australian fintech unicorn Airwallex in 2015 with the aim of simplifying international payments. (Have you ever tried to send money overseas? Yeah, it’s annoying and complicated.) Of note: she was only 25 at the time.
Fast-forward to today (and throw in a period of very rapid growth spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic), and services have expanded beyond cross-border payments to include bank accounts, borderless cards, online payments acceptance and a suite of application programming interfaces.
“Although our personal worlds got smaller during lockdown, more and more businesses had to expand into international markets to remain viable,” Lucy explained to The CEO Magazine.
The company’s growth has been fast – up there with the likes of Google and Apple. There are now over 800 employees in 12 offices across the world. Lucy acts as President of the rapidly growing company, while juggling the demands of being a mother. Our hats go off to her.
4. PiggyVest – West Africa’s first savings and investment app
It’s no shock that many people at the start of, or even well into, their careers lack basic personal finance skills. While Western markets are flooded with finance apps and tools to help combat this, Odunayo Eweniyi is partially responsible for bringing an effective finance solution to West Africa. She co-founded one of Nigeria’s most successful fintech startups, PiggyVest.
The platform was initially designed to help people better save and manage their money, but in 2019 it began offering investment options as well. For Odunayo, the tech isn’t just about helping people today, but creating lasting change. She said this in an interview back in 2018:
“Leaving a legacy [or having meaningful impact] is important… That’s why we are all working as hard as we are – so that 5, 10, 15 years down the line we can look at how the company is changing lives and impacting the community and say to ourselves: ‘We did good.’ That’s what it’s all about.”
So it comes as no surprise that this leading lady in Africa’s tech scene also co-founded FirstCheck Africa, a business that helps “female founders get the financial, social and belief capital to build category-defining companies”.
Now that’s a true example of how empowered women empower women.
5. Planet FWD – a tool that helps companies track their carbon footprint
As climate change grabs the attention of more businesses and sustainability commitments become essential, Planet FWD is helping organizations quickly calculate their carbon footprint and make changes.
It may seem like a strange leap for Founder Julie Collins to make after co-founding an automated pizza company, but she says that becoming a parent led her to be more conscious of her choices as a consumer and business owner.
She began building the infrastructure of Planet FWD before she even realized she was doing it.
“When it came to the regenerative food landscape, nothing had been codified or mapped yet,” she said. “And so, as I started to pull together the ingredients for my climate-friendly snacks, I amassed this really exhaustive library of all this information about these farms. And I thought that was really interesting because anybody who wants to create a climate-friendly food product needs a universal set of information that just wasn’t available. And here I was building it in a little spreadsheet. And so I looked up and I realized this is actually software that I’m building.”
It’s also worth mentioning that Planet FWD’s most recent round of funding deliberately came from an impressive 99.5% women and people of color – a step in the right direction for diversity in venture capital.
6. Goodr – a company that diverts food waste into meals for the hungry
Goodr leverages technology and logistics to reduce waste and eliminate hunger. Sounds too ‘Goodr’ to be true, right? Well Founder Jasmine Crowe believes that hunger is a logistics issue, not a scarcity issue. It’s simply a matter of using analytics, data and technology in the right way.
The Goodr platform allows organizations to track surplus stock, and convert it into tax deductible charitable donations that feed the hungry. Jasmine explained how it works in an interview with Microsoft:
“This dashboard platform that we’ve built allows customers to get real, tangible insights on the food waste that they’ve never measured before. So what we’re able to help them see is items that they’re constantly wasting, so that they can make better decisions on their food production. We’re also able to show them who the food goes to, which kind of causes and nonprofits that they’re supporting. And then we give them all of the tax data for everything it is that they’ve donated, so that at the end of the year all they have to do is run a report, give it to the CPA, and now they can write off all of their food donations.”
A win for business, a win for the environment, and a win for people in need. That’s a great use of tech if ever we saw it!
And there’s more…
It’s difficult putting a cap on this list of inspiring women-led companies.Truth is, we could add to it indefinitely.
There’s Verge Genomics, founded by Alice Zhang, a Health Tech company that’s transforming the lives of people with neurodegenerative diseases. There’s TransTech Social Enterprises, a coworking space and co-learning community for trans and gender non-conforming people, founded by Angelica Ross.
And then there’s the inspiring companies that our Girls in Tech members are running, or setting up as we speak.
Want to start your own tech company?
Here’s our advice:
- Just do it – Tech needs women, and tech needs you.
Let the achievements of the above mentioned women encourage you to take the leap, even if you don’t feel 100% prepared. Read our article on The Truth About “Imposter Syndrome”.
- Start with research – Startup accelerator MassChallenge notes that the first step to starting a tech company is developing an MVP that the market actually wants. They cite research that shows 42% of startups fold due to no market need. So before you launch into founder mode, take the time to do your research and ensure your idea is actually fulfilling a need – ideally in a way no one else is doing it. Taking part in a Girl in Tech hackathon or workshop is a great way to test a business idea before you take it to market. View our upcoming events.
- Maximize available tech tools – Making the most of free or low-cost tools is a great way to save time, keep you on track, and save money in the early days of building a business. Check out these 30 Startup Tools & Resources to Grow Your Business.
- Get a mentor or accountability partner – Mentors are valuable for helping you grow your career in an organization. But they can also be a valuable partner and sounding board when starting your own tech company.
- Get the right team behind you – CBInsights found that 14% of startups failed because they didn’t have the right team. Bypass this by learning about different personality types, and intentionally creating a diverse team with clear roles and responsibilities.
- Learn as you go – No one expects you to know everything at the start of your journey. Stay open to learning and constantly evolving over time, and be intentional about learning new skills. Completing relevant courses via platforms like Udemy or Girls in Tech Academy is a great way to grow and develop as your business does.
- Take care of yourself – As thrilling and fast-paced as entrepreneur life may be, remember that YOU are your greatest asset. Toxic productivity will only serve you to a point, and burnout is common amongst business owners. So take time to step back, unwind, and relax when needed.