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Christie Whitehill Tech Ready Women Interview

Christie Whitehill Tech Ready Women Interview

Recent comments from a Google engineer suggesting the gender gap in tech is due to biological differences in men and women make Christie Whitehill angry, and this attitude is one of the reasons why she believes we need to help accelerate female-led tech start-ups.

Christie is the founder of Tech Ready Women and the Tech Ready Program, an eight-week accelerator specifically designed for non-tech women who want to step confidently into the tech space. The program has just successfully facilitated its first round of graduates and Christie says that the feedback has validated why she created the program in the first place. She has found that in many cases the issue is not that women do not want to get involved in tech, rather they don't know where to start, have had a bad experience or are lacking self-confidence because tech is such a male dominated field.

A global survey of female founders in the tech space in 2017 found that despite the hype in media around women in tech, the reality is a plateau of only 17% of women have founded tech start-ups since 2012. Christie says that stats like this, along with her own experience launching two technology businesses, were the inspiration for Tech Ready.

'Women in technology face an undeniable uphill battle and it's not because of a -biological' condition. Having just successfully finished our first Tech Ready Program, I have seen that mentoring can make it possible for non-tech women to confidently become founders of tech start-ups that are on the path of success. Women want to be involved in tech, but we need to do more to support them throughout the journey, whether it's through helping them refine the initial idea so it is viable, connecting them with the right app development team, educating them on business principles, showing them how to develop a prototype, or showing them what's required to successfully pitch for investment."

'As a non-tech founder, with no guidance, I made a number of -wrong turns' that resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in development costs and third party consultancy fees," Christie said. 'With Tech Ready Women I am on a mission to accelerate the rate of women entering the tech space ensuring that they are equipped with the skills, education and sense of community they need to empower their journey."

One of the graduates, Megan Gale, works full time in a corporate role and came to Tech Ready wanting to validate her side business, aupairtribe, which she describes as an online marketplace matching aupairs and host families in Australia.

'I have years of experience in management roles but I realised that I needed a different skill set in order to take my tech business to the next level," Megan said. 'Being part of the Tech Ready Program was particularly useful for validating my idea, engaging the best developer and understanding how a tech business is built. I am now also part of a broader community that I can tap into at anytime, something I wouldn't have been able to do so easily on my own.

Hayley Warren, CEO of Halo Medical Devices and current program mentor said, "Sadly it is pretty rare to find other like-minded female tech entrepreneurs, and when I first started I often had to face unnecessary disparaging comments based on being female and young. I would have loved to have had Tech Ready when I started out, to streamline my concept, to feel supported and to save time and money on the mistakes made."

Having achieved great success with the first accelerator program, Christie is taking applications for another program commencing on 25 September 2017, which includes an initial free 1:1 strategy session. Innovative women who want the opportunity to take their tech business idea and turn it into a tangible product are invited to apply.

The course will include modules on idea development, validation, intraprenuers, software development, hiring technology talent, market testing and more. Participants will also receive $10,000 worth of hosting and services from Amazon Web Services, an account with Github and Legal Vision, discounted desk space at Tank Stream Labs and access to its meeting rooms, as well as ongoing support from experts.

Places are expected to fill quickly, and can be booked here: http://www.techreadywomen.com/apply-now/


Interview with Christie Whitehill, Tech Ready Women CEO

Christie Whitehill is an entrepreneur and mentor in the Australian tech space. She is the founder and CEO of Tech Ready Women and Tech Ready Program"an eight-week accelerator specifically designed for non-tech female founders who want to step confidently into the tech space. Christie is also CEO of Hatching Lab"an innovation and tech partner to startups and corporates and co-founder of Poppy Renegade"a movement to empower women to stand tall in all facets of life. Christie is dedicated to empowering and educating women in startups, tech and innovation. In 2016 she was recognised as one of the Top 50 Women in Tech.


Question: What inspired you to create Tech Ready Women?

Christie Whitehill: I am a founding member of Tank Stream Labs, a co-working space for tech founders, and I was one of only four female founders. I wanted to change this. At the same time, I constantly had female entrepreneurs asking me for help on their tech businesses.

I was already involved as a founder of Poppy Renegade, a movement to help women stand tall in the workplace, but knew that I needed to do something specific to technology to help get more women into the tech space. After all, almost every start up requires some level of technology and I didn't want female entrepreneurs to feel that success was not accessible to them if they didn't have a tech background.

I don't have a tech background but am a successful tech entrepreneur, so I know the impact of learning from experts who had -been there, done that' experience.

Then, this all lead to the creation of Tech Ready Women when I fell pregnant with my son Zac. I knew that my time would be even more limited and if I was going to spend any time away from my child it would have to be something that really added value. So I created this accelerator program for non-tech entrepreneurs who want to run a business that relied on technology, such as e-commerce. The Tech Ready Program is everything I wish I had when I started my tech journey, now over six years ago.


Question: What is the Tech Ready Program?

Christie Whitehill: The Tech Ready Program is an eight-week accelerator specifically designed for non-tech women who want to step confidently into the tech space. Tech Ready provides hands-on learning and a community of mentors to accelerate their tech journey. The program has just successfully facilitated its first round of graduates and the feedback has validated why I created the program in the first place. I have found that in many cases the issue is not that women do not want to get involved in tech, rather they don't know where to start, have had a bad experience or are lacking self-confidence because tech is such a male dominated field.


Question: What is included in this eight-week accelerator program?

Christie Whitehill: The accelerator is comprised of a series of interactive workshops, where female founders will take their early stage startup idea, validate it and build their very first minimum viable product (MVP).

The course includes modules on idea development, validation, intraprenuers, software development, hiring technology talent, market testing and more. Participants will also receive $10,000 worth of hosting and services from Amazon Web Services, an account with Github and Legal Vision, discounted desk space at Tank Stream Labs and access to its meeting rooms, as well as ongoing support from experts.

Each intake of the Tech Ready® Program is limited to 20 participants. The intimate environment provides a safe and supportive learning space where participants are encouraged to ask questions, learn and grow. The face-to face-workshops allow participants to gain feedback on their business and tech product from our experts who are software developers, UX (user experience) designers, experienced entrepreneurs, lean startup experts and financial advisors.


Question: How do you hope to close the gender gap?

Christie Whitehill: Tech Ready is built on four key pillars of success: community, mentoring, education and investment. This empowers women to enter the tech space and to have the confidence and skills needed to ride out the challenges they will face as founders but also as women in a male-dominated field.

I have seen that mentoring can make it possible for non-tech women to confidently become founders of tech start-ups that are on the path of success. And the Tech Ready program combines mentoring with upskilling and education so that women have the skills to build the future.

Closing the gender gap also requires that we start early with our girls to remove gender stereotypes and biases that might limit girls from believing that the tech space is for them. And that is something we can all help change.


Question: What advice do you have for women beginning their first online businesses?

Christie Whitehill: Validate, validate, validate! One of the most common mistakes I see first time founders make is that they skip the most important step: validating their business idea. A lot of entrepreneurs are so passionate about their idea that they start building it right away. Validating your idea means conducting customer interviews to see if you're building a product that people will want to buy. This is a crucial step and will save you time and money in the long run. This is why we have dedicated an entire workshop to validating your business idea in the Tech Ready Program workshop.

Surround yourself with a community of mentors and experts, and have permission to give you feedback based on their experience.


Question: Can you share some of the positive feedback from the Tech Ready Program?

Christie Whitehill: Graduates from the Tech Ready Program have been able to launch their businesses, turn a profit, and seek investment as a result of the accelerator program. I'm so thrilled that we have been able to help these incredible female entrepreneurs in their startup journeys.

One of the graduates, Megan Gale, works full time in a corporate role and came to Tech Ready wanting to validate her side business, aupairtribe, which she describes as an online marketplace matching aupairs and host families in Australia.

'I have years of experience in management roles but I realised that I needed a different skill set in order to take my tech business to the next level," Megan said. 'Being part of the Tech Ready Program was particularly useful for validating my idea, engaging the best developer and understanding how a tech business is built. I am now also part of a broader community that I can tap into at any time, something I wouldn't have been able to do so easily on my own."

Hayley Warren, CEO of Halo Medical Devices and current program mentor said, "Sadly it is pretty rare to find other like-minded female tech entrepreneurs, and when I first started I often had to face unnecessary disparaging comments based on being female and young. I would have loved to have had Tech Ready when I started out, to streamline my concept, to feel supported and to save time and money on the mistakes made."


Question: How important is it to regularly revisit our goals?

Christie Whitehill: It is crucial to keep your goals at the forefront of your mind. Otherwise it is easy to get off track, slow down or quit when discouraged, or not reach the right outcomes. This applies to all of life.

If you can do one small thing every day to get closer to your goals - you'll achieve them by no time and will need to set some more goals! I like to reflect on my day and see how the tasks I did were able to get one step closer to my goals.


Question: Can you share your favourite websites to visit?

Christie Whitehill: Poppy Renegade and LinkedIn


Question: How do you set everyday up to be successful?

Christie Whitehill: Every week we do a review of what went well and where we can improve on. We have a mini celebration of how far we have come, and then map out the week ahead.

When it comes to planning out my day I take a high level overview, keeping our mission to accelerate the rate of women entering the tech space and creating innovative technology products and businesses, at the forefront of all the strategy and planning. So if something on my to-do list doesn't fit with that mission, then it can't be a priority.

As an entrepreneur you will wear many hats and it's easy to get trapped in the just checking off tasks cycle. Instead, each week think about three things that you can do that will push the business forward. This can be having an important meeting, creating a new partnership, or spending time brainstorming new solutions to a problem. The idea is to make sure you make time for the high impact goals, and structure each day around this.

I also focus on my highest and best use. I make sure I only do what I can do and then delegate the rest to my team.

Places are expected to fill quickly for the next 8 week Tech Ready Program, and can be booked here: http://www.techreadywomen.com/register/


Interview by Brooke Hunter



 
 



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