Join the conversation:

Tech startups: Female entrepreneurs trying to break barriers into male-dominated sector

Tech startups: Female entrepreneurs trying to break barriers into male-dominated sector

Posted by PanamericanWorld on March 16, 2017

Kerry Costello, co-founder of HeadCheck Health, is an entrepreneur in the technology sector – an area still dominated by her male counterparts.

She admits starting her own business wasn’t her first instinct, let alone in the technology sector where she had limited experience.

But after a couple of years in the corporate world, the 33-year-old from Vancouver teamed up with a fellow University of British Columbia graduate, Harrison Brown, to develop HeadCheck – a smartphone-based app that allows users to do on-the-spot concussion assessments of athletes and track brain health in the future.

It’s been almost a year since the app formally launched and, “I still have a lot of people come up to me and ask me how I got into tech,” says Ms. Costello, whose experience in the Sauder School of Business MBA program at UBC taught her that good business ideas sell, regardless of the entrepreneur’s gender.

She’s not alone. Women across Canada are discovering a career path in tech entrepreneurship after their MBAs and other business degrees. As the marketplace acknowledges this reality, business schools and industry alike are spawning support systems to encourage even more female entrepreneurs to enter sectors – namely technology – from which they were historically absent.

“I knew I had a skill set in building a business and those mentors [in technology] had a skill set of building ideas, and when those two come together that’s when the magic happens,” says Ms. Costello.

Jenny Yang, chief executive officer and founder at Vancouver-based Aida Software Corp., was one of the mentors Ms. Costello met through entrepreneurship@UBC, the university’s startup incubator. She remains an important sounding board for the HeadCheck team.

“It’s important to have older female entrepreneurs from the technology space showing, modelling, what can be done,” says Ms. Yang.

“Especially for those women that may wonder if they can [break into] … tech or require the confidence to develop their ideas.”

Years of battling unconscious bias in the male-dominated sector have also made Ms. Yang an invaluable resource for women getting into technology. “Over the years, I’ve done my own research,” she explains. “We’ve all gone through hard times ourselves, so if I can share some experience I’m happy to do it.”

In Toronto’s technology space, the call coming from companies founded by both men and women is, “We need more talent,” according to Michelle McBane, investment director of the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF).

Filling the talent gap includes attracting more women, and one way of doing that is through mentorship. “Having more female leaders and role models and mentors coming into these higher growth companies is important to attracting and growing that talent,” Ms. McBane says.

Last fall, BDC Capital, the investment arm of Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), announced it would inject $50-million into female-led technology firms “as part of its efforts to support women entrepreneurs.”

A fifth of that money is to be allocated to programs such as MaRS’s IFA to provide female-led technology businesses with preseed and seed funds.

According to MaRS Data Catalyst, in 2015, more than 32 per cent of tech startups in Ontario had women founders. This is up from 2014, when 26 per cent of ventures had at least one female founder.

Link To Full Article: 
Tags: 

Facebook comments



Monthly newsletter featuring articles hand picked by our country managers from the best content across PanamericanWorld.



Monthly newsletter featuring articles hand picked by our country managers from the best content across the Caribbean Region on PanamericanWorld.

PANAMERICANWORLD COUNTRIES