Over the past year, we’ve been interviewing women leaders and entrepreneurs in the world of technology across the country for the podcast project Diva Tech Talk. The insights and trends have been astounding. Most women are interested in cultivating a strong network, giving back through mentorship, and some first found themselves “stumbling” into a career in technology.
After interviewing these founders, CEOs, and leaders, we’re sharing some powerful advice from five Michigan based entrepreneurs in technology. Check out their inspiring advice and stories below.
FOUNDER TARA REED OF KOLLECTO.COM
Tara Reed had no initial plans for a career in technology. Living in New York City she planned to follow a path into the world of finance. After applying to a job at Google on a whim, she received a position and spent a summer at the tech giant. From Google to Foursquare to Microsoft, she has now had plenty of experience to share from working in the world of technology. But it was discovering the magic of having side projects that led her to launch her own tech company Kollecto.com, now based in Detroit.
Her advice is “build a service first” because it encourages dialogue with possible users. Doing that for Kollecto enabled her to build the first application based on conversations with interested prospects.
“Hell is building fancy stuff that no one uses,” she said. Yes, yes it is! Listen to her story.
FOUNDER JILLIAN WINN OF SIGNING SAVVY
This Lansing based technology company Signing Savvy offers a software for learning how to sign. Jillian Winn had an interest in technology, studying gaming and gender roles at Michigan State University, eventually leading to her launch of Signing Savvy.
Jillian’s tip for women in tech? Always think like a team. The entrepreneur said that being one of the first female pole vaulters in the State of Michigan, years before launching her tech company, helped her be unafraid to try new things. It also taught her the importance of a being team player. Your company is your team too.
“I really believe you always need to think in terms of a team aspect and how the team can succeed,” she said. Listen to her full story.
FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE TRACY ANN PALMER
Tracy Ann Palmer migrated to the United States from South Africa and took her first job at an events company in Chicago called Marcus Evans. She’s gone on to be a founder of her first company Arzika, then dove deep into technology working for Salesforce.com and later Cisco. Along the way she also started the non-profit We Build Character. Being a women in technology has not fazed her much as she passionately sees a need for more women in technology leadership positions, and she’s grateful to be in the U.S. where she says “you can be whatever you want to be here.”
Her advice? Always approach work with a fresh perspective.
“Don’t judge. Accept everyone and everything from the perspective of what you can learn from them, and from the circumstances you are in. Know that everyone has something very special to give you,” she said. Listen to her story here.
FOUNDER ROSEMARY BAYER OF ARDENT CAUSE
Rosemary Bayer is the co-founder and Chief Inspiration Officer for ardentCause L3C, the first low profit, limited liability company in Michigan, described as a “for profit company with a non-profit soul.” She is also a founder of The Michigan Council of Women In Technology. ardentCause provides data solutions for non-profits.
Rosemary’s advice for other women in entrepreneurship and technology is to find role models and to develop your own emotional intelligence.
“Develop ‘emotional intelligence’,” she said. “You need to be yourself, which means you also need to know yourself. Oh, and don’t volunteer to make the coffee.”
MONICA WHEAT, FOUNDER DIGERATI GIRLS
Inspired at an early age to get her hands into technology, Monica felt she wanted to give back to youth. After years of working in digital marketing for big agencies, she had an eye opening moment. Her twelve year old niece started to feel that engineering and technology could only be for boys. To start making a greater impact early on for girls Monica Co-founded Digerati Girls with her sister Adrienne Wheat, teaching digital technology and digital marketing to youth. They’re now partnered with big tech companies like Google.
Her advice? It’s never to young (or old) to get started or make a career change into the world of technology. Listen to her story here.
Know other women in Michigan launching and innovating in their industries? Make sure to drop us a note anytime with recommendations.
Originally posted 2/21/16 on Michipreneur