The #FemaleTechFounder end of year event was a blast!
The event sold out hours before kick off and was incredibly well attended – it was virtually standing room only.
Thank you to everyone who came and a massive thank you too to sponsors ThoughtWorks for the incredible food (very cool rice boxes), drinks (including Christmas fizz) and use of the gorgeous event space. Thanks a million for all your support throughout the year – we couldn’t do it without you.
Special thanks are also due to a couple of very special organisations that encouraged and supported us throughout the year. We’re grateful for the backing of Nicola Ellis (@Nic_Ellis88) and Trish Keating (@TrishkeatingMcr) at UKFast‘s Tech Manchester; they connected us to the founders who spoke at the very first event, and also for the support of Mo Aldalou (@tn_northwest), Tech Nation‘s engagement manager for the North West.
Mo was one of two men at our inaugural event in February and we’re so pleased he stuck with us to see the gender balance we’ve achieved throughout the year. He’s pictured here in the audience at the June event (second row, in the dark red jumper). See, men and women do attend now!
We had incredible time at the end of year celebrations – the format was slightly different from the usual #FemaleTechFounder event – gone were the slide decks and pitch practice sessions – instead we had a series of fireside-style chats with founder speakers who had delivered lightning talks earlier in the year. The one question posed to each by our host, the indomitable Claire-Marie Boggiano (@CMBoggiano), director, Lurig Ltd was:
“What was good (or bad) about 2019?”
Thank you so much for your candid responses, dear speakers. It made for an incredibly enlightening evening!
On to the fireside chats. Chloe Barrett (@immersify_ed), founder, Immersify Education (formerly known as DigiDentistry) and Gemma McCall (@Gezzabelle), co-founder, Culture Shift kicked things off and it was fascinating to hear their accounts of the year.
Chloe has taken her startup Immersify Education to great heights since speaking at the inaugural #FemaleTechFounder event back in February; after successfully raised investment funding, she is ending the year having grown from two people to a team of 7!
Gemma spoke at April’s event and it’s incredible to hear how her company Culture Shift’s platform Report + Support, inspired by that statistic that only 2% of those experiencing sexual violence felt both able to report it and were satisfied with the process, is now readying itself for international expansion! Culture Shift was also shortlisted for the prestigious Rising Stars 2.0 awards which spotlights the top 33 early-stage tech companies in the UK.
Key takeaways from Chloe and Gemma were to take the time to really find the best people for your team, and, delegate, if you’re embarking on a period of fundraising. To grow your startup during this crucial stage, as a founder you need to be able to hand over the reins to trusted colleagues and focus on what needs to be done.
Up next were Naomi Timperley (@naomitimperley), chair of investment platform Capital Pilot and Natalie Jameson (@njco2design), founder and CEO, The Heroworx.
Both have had a varied and busy year, Naomi achieving the accolade of being listed in Computer Weekly’s Top 25 Women in Tech in the UK, and for Natalie, launching The Heroworx, writing three books and delivering amazing work with the consortia delivering the TechEquity #WomenInLinux programme.
After them came sisters Laura Beattie (@laurajbeattie) and Rachel Beattie (@RachelCBeattie) co-founders of Careaux and PJ Surani (@PJSurani), Digital Success Manager, Computer Rock.
Their fireside chat packed a punch – PJ’s goals for 2020 – “not be mediocre” struck a chord with many in the room while the audience chided Laura and Rachel for overlooking some of the year’s achievements for Careaux – 2019 has been an incredible year for the ethical womenswear brand. PJ spoke at the March event while Laura and Rachel spoke in June.
To close the night we had Sophie Walker (@Sophie_COO), COO and co-founder, Dsposal.uk and Emma Ryan (@emmaryan), co-founder, Wattl.
Both have come an incredibly long way since they last presented – Sophie was also a speaker at February’s inaugural event and ends the year having added a commercial director to the impressive team at pioneering waste tech startup, Dsposal.
Emma spoke at the March event and her company Wattl have always impressed with their strong tech credentials – they will be adding a marketplace for videos to the innovative video streaming platform. The husband and wife team behind Wattl will also be creating an online tool for accountants in coming months! Wattl was shortlisted for a VentureFest Digital Innovation award in the autumn.
As always, Twitter tells the story best. Here come some amazing tweets from the night.
Well, we’re kicking off 2020 with a bang. #FemaleTechFounder is back on Tuesday 14 January. Grab your ticket before they all go!
We’d like to know what you want to see or hear more of in the new year. Take a minute or less to vote in these Assenty quick polls (no registration required).
I’m thinking of raising seed funding. I would like some advice. Vote Now.
I have a startup. I’d like help with finding and working with early customers. Vote Now.
I’m thinking of borrowing to fund my startup. Vote Now.
I’d like support with marketing my startup. Vote Now.
I’d like to take part in a pitch practice session. Vote Now.
I’d like a mentor to help me with my startup. Vote Now.
I have a startup. I’d like to be introduced to potential investors. Vote Now.
We’re delighted to be in a position to share some of the great initiatives taking place in the Manchester tech community:
Tech Returners has announced the next cohort of their Tech Future Female Leaders. The programme which is designed to work with female leaders to help them develop, succeed and inspire others, is a 4 part course made up of workshops addressing topics like career journey, personal brand, confidence and managing technical teams.
Since its inception in 2018 the programme has worked with more than 40 female leaders from businesses including AutoTrader, Digital Bridge, CodeComputer Love, The University of Manchester, Siemens, Hiring Hub and the Co Op and has seen its graduates go on to speak at events including TedX and Reframe Women in Technology, to win industry awards and pass on their learnings to other female leaders in their network.
To learn more about the programme and how you or your business can get involved please click here. Applications for the January cohort are open now.
And a big thank you for this earlier in the year, Harriet!
Have an amazing Christmas and a happy new year!