There’s Never Been a Better Time for Female Tech Entrepreneurs


When I was a young girl, I knew that I wanted to run my own business someday. In fact, I would end up leading almost every club or team that I got involved in at school. However, by the time I actually began my career, I was well aware that the odds were not entirely in my favor due to my gender and ethnicity. I didn’t let that get in the way, though, and worked hard to prove myself. Today, I am proud to be the CEO of MetricStream, a leading technology company that I helped build from the ground up.

That being said, I know how daunting it is to be a woman, and especially a female entrepreneur in the field of technology, where the lack of gender diversity is a serious cause for concern. Silicon Valley Bank’s recent “U.S. Startup Outlook 2016” report found that 66 percent of startups have no women on their boards, and 46 percent have no women in executive positions. However, about a quarter of respondents (26 percent) said that they have programs in place to increase the number of women in leadership roles. And therein lies the good news – things are slowly but surely changing.

Women Rising

Copia, Privail, and Senseware are three of the hottest tech startups in the U.S. today. They’re also all led by women. CEO and co-founders Komal Ahmad, Anwaar Al-Zireeni, and Serene Almomen are showing the world that women can build and run tech-centered businesses just as successfully as men.

The tech industry is fast realizing this, which is why Google Entrepreneurs, for instance, initiated the #40Forward effort, committing $1 million to 40-startup focused organizations to increase the representation of women in their respective tech communities. Meanwhile, an increasing number of startup accelerators are coming forward to support women entrepreneurs.

Women are also speaking up. They’re bringing attention to their challenges as tech entrepreneurs. And they’re joining hands to support each other. Today, there are startup communities like Women’s Startup Lab, Startup Chicks, and Women Who Startup, as well as organizations like Watermark, who are doing some incredible work in encouraging, mentoring, and nurturing female tech entrepreneurs.

All these efforts and more are certainly paying off. In 2009, only 9.5 percent of startups had at least one woman founder, but by 2014, that rate had almost doubled to 18 percent, according to CrunchBase data reported in TechCrunch.

Against this backdrop of increasing opportunities and support, what are some of the things that aspiring women entrepreneurs can do to increase their odds of success?

My advice is to make a PACT with yourself where:

  • “P” stands for Planning your path
  • “A” stands for taking Action to differentiate yourself
  • “C” stands for leading with Confidence
  • “T” stands for leveraging the right Tools

Plan Your Path

Having a plan gives you a sense of purpose, and helps you stay focused on what’s important, even when things change. The most successful entrepreneurs I know all had a plan for how they intended to achieve their vision, build their brand, manage their cash flow, monetize their product, and so on.

Another good practice is to research your chosen market. Determine how your product will fit in there, and whether or not there is a genuine need for it at this moment. Equally important, find the right funding. Many women entrepreneurs struggle at this stage because investors don’t take them seriously. The key is to make sure that you have a great product that solves a real problem. Also, look for investors who support women, and when talking to them, lead with your credentials, and be confident.

Take Action to Differentiate Yourself

When I was striving to break into the executive ranks at IBM, I had to do something to stand out among 150,000+ employees. So, I began taking on the roles that … Next Page »

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Shellye Archambeau is CEO of MetricStream, a Palo Alto, CA-based company offering governance, risk, compliance, and quality management solutions to enterprises in the pharmaceutical, medical device, high tech manufacturing, energy, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, food and beverage, and automotive industries. Follow @metricstream

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