As we wrap up Women’s History Month, we reflect on the amazing women with whom we have been involved and the equally amazing companies they have built. The tech startup world is not the easiest to navigate for women and it is important to UpRamp to help with the roadmap. Women still account for less than 20 percent of founders and 96% of venture capitalists are men. According to the Harvard Business Review, women-owned business are more likely to contribute back to their community, create more jobs, and have higher levels of innovation, so it only makes sense that need more women in tech, in entrepreneurship, and to be investing in startups.
It was for this reason that UpRamp and CableLabs recently hosted a screening of She Started It, a feature length documentary about women tech entrepreneurs. Proceeds for the event went to our local Girls Who Code chapters in Louisville, CO and Sunnyvale, CA. Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology, a mission that the cable/broadband/wireless industry strongly supports.
We had a great turnout of local women, men, and the young girls they brought. After the film, we hosted a Q&A session with three female founders who engaged with the girls to paint a picture of female entrepreneurship. Jacki Ros of Revolar, Elisabeth Vezzani of Sugarwish, and Alex Niemczewski of BallotReady shared their experiences with the audience in a delightfully honest, engaging, humorous evening. We also asked the women some questions that we think are important to share. See below!
Jacqueline Ros, CEO of REVOLAR
Revolar is a smartphone-compatible wearable that allows users to alert loved ones, at the touch of a button, that they are safe or in danger. Jacqueline came up with the idea after her sister was assaulted as a teenager. Her sister taught her that in a real-life situation, you just don’t have time to get out your phone and call for help. Jacqueline wanted to find a better way – and thus founded Revolar with her co-founder Andrea Perdomo.
What is something you truly believe in (business) that many people don't?
Diversity is powerful because it creates friction. It is a catalyst for hard conversations. Growing a diverse team doesn't mean everyone sees eye-to-eye. The whole point is that different perspectives bring up things I or someone else on the team would never have considered. We're proud of our diversity but know that it requires a daily commitment to being open minded.
Less than 20% of founders are women. What was it that poised you for this sort of life/world/career/leadership?
I'm not sure anything quite prepares you for being a first-time CEO. I gave myself the title and have dedicated myself to being the best CEO I can be. I'm imperfect which makes me even more grateful for my team's support. However, one of my strengths in this role is that I am very comfortable with delegating. Learn to share the work is critical to growing a company. It requires a ton of trust but is key.
Revolar is launching an Indiegogo TOMORROW - protect your loved ones and support an awesome company at the same time by helping spread the news!
Elisabeth Vezzani, CEO of SUGARWISH
Sugarwish delivers sweet happiness to your doorstep. It all started with two moms that commiserated over the lack of clever gift-giving options. Thus, Sugarwish was born - a website where the giver gets to choose their gift of delicious candy, and the receiver gets to personalize it. Sweet!
If you could go back to you in the first days of your startup and give yourself the very best advice, what would it be?
I would definitely tell myself to enjoy the experience a little more. Looking back, we have been through some amazing times and have had plenty to celebrate. We are so busy keeping up and focusing on what is coming down the pipeline. We usually celebrate our successes with a quick high five and then on to the next thing. Many of our Sugarwish accomplishments have deserved a whole lot more than that.
I would try to take the advice I often give and "Enjoy the ride."
What mistake taught you the most and why?We’ve made plenty-- and all of them have taught us something. My advice is “don’t be scared to make mistakes”. Embracing mistakes is a great way to make sure your eyes stay open so that you can get the lesson the first time it presents itself. If you don’t— it WILL present itself again.
Send a friend or colleague a sweet treat and make their day at www.sugarwish.com.
Alex Niemczewski, CEO of BALLOTREADY
BallotReady is a nonpartisan voter guide with the mission of creating a more informed electorate and strengthening our democracy. That’s something everyone can agree on, right? In 2014, Alex found herself spending countless hours trying to research her entire ballot. Some issues, like popular amendments or big candidate races, have a lot of readily available information with which to research. But a lot of those down-ballot issues and candidates are hard to research. Thus, BallotReady was born - helping voters research and understand every candidate and referendum up for election.
How important is your relationship with your cofounders?There is nothing that my cofounders don’t know about me and my life. We have good days and bad days, and I am really grateful for that relationship especially on the bad days.
What is one of the most important lessons you have learned?Well, it doesn’t always work, but you can ask someone for funding again, even if they said no the first time. I was given this piece of advice from a mentor, and at first I didn’t believe her. But I tried it a few times, and it actually worked for me.
Do your part to become the most educated voter you can be and go to www.ballotready.org.
Give a shout or a tweet or a like to these courageous ladies and try out their goods!
To read more about She Started It and their mission, check out the trailer & visit their site:
More cool resources:
And to start coding like a champ:
- Girls Who Code
- Black Girls Code
- Khan Academy
- Women Who Code
- Girl Develop It
- NCWIT Resources