The SheStarts director and head of diversity and impact at business accelerator BlueChilli reveals how the tech startup space is changing.

What does it mean to be a tech entrepreneur in 2018?

You get to be part of a community and a movement that could make the world better. It’s about having the opportunity to solve the world’s biggest problems in ways we may never have been able to before.

SheStarts backs female-led startups. Why is it important to get more women involved in this space?

Innovation and technology is driving much of our economy. Women are grossly under-represented at the top of both big and emerging companies; in Australia, only about one in four tech startup founders are women. If we’re going to build a dynamic, technology-driven economy, we need more women participating in and leading that change.

What are some of the obstacles women face?

When women are experiencing the gender pay gap, their capacity to save the capital to take a risk and start a business is hampered. Cultural issues, such as caring responsibilities, can also impact women’s ability to take risks. On a structural level, there are things like unconscious bias. When people are deciding to back a startup, they often look for what they’ve seen work time and time again. If you haven’t seen lots of women succeeding and if their way of dealing with a problem is different, this bias can influence decision-making.

Are attitudes about backing female-led startups changing?

Absolutely. There’s recognition now that it’s not just nice to have, it’s a global economic imperative. Investing in women and championing diversity in leadership and innovation will drive better results for a company and for our economy more broadly.

What is the first piece of advice you give to a founder?

Be obsessed with the problem you’re trying to solve and who you’re trying to solve it for. Validate that it isn’t just an idea but is solving a real problem with an actual market for that solution. 

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