How Croydon Tech City unexpectedly made me a ‘woman in tech’



By - Monday 15th June, 2015

Joyce Veheary reports on her surprise introduction to ‘women in tech’


Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

I sat #FRow at the special #Croydon #TechCity event celebrating women in tech, an inspirational and insightful night hosted by co-founder of CTC (representing a mighty female 1/3 of the enterprise) Sarah Luxford.

Sarah, with co-founders Nigel Dias and Jonny Rose, is championing female led tech start-ups with events like this and the CTC MBA Course. They’re also striving to bridge a chasm: male dominance in the tech industry. For the first time I, a woman, was part of a rare majority in the room. This demonstrated that start-ups do seem to be showing signs of being better at highlighting that women in tech are fronting more companies than their corporate counterparts.

Learning from the best

Sarah introduced the first guest speaker, hailing from ‘The Heath’ [Thornton Heath]; Suki Fuller. As a child Suki moved around a lot, from her tots in Tooting to the Middle East, then on to America. From her vivacious presentation, it’s hard to believe Suki was an introverted child, but where Suki was shy on the socialising front she learned skills to accumulate and use data. She impressively learned simple code from her father from an early age. From here, Suki cited her sleuth-like attention to detail, aiding her competitive edge and her thirst for knowledge for getting to the top as a competitive intelligence professional and analytical storyteller.

Keep planning, keep researching. Learn the craft of competition. Make time for a funding strategy… Study funding options and don’t take dumb money”.

Nicole Anderson, CEO of Fintech Circle Innovate, looks for corporates to sponsor new start-ups, joining Suki on the Q&A panel added, “You’re more likely to have sponsors give you money after due diligence”.

Good job that I’ve booked onto the CTC class, ‘A Guide to Raising Money for Your Start-up’, on Tuesday 23rd June (if you haven’t yet book here!)

Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Also on the panel was: IT-, and IT professional people-, expert Mary Jane Boholst, director of Conscious Cocoon, who trains introverted techies to gain confidence and share skills; founder of Lifeshifter, Jana Hlistova, who’s “on a personal mission to help to change the working lives of women”; and Elizabeth Kanter, whose professional credits include global tech companies, now director of government relations and public policy as well as global corporate affairs at SAP and who is also a Prince’s Trust mentor. Elizabeth makes it her priority to match-make business legacy with innovation for businesses; both being shaped by software and by women in tech.

 “Confidence is also a massive part of creating a business”

Most of the panel agreed on the advice to never underestimate the power of networking and to meet as many people as you can to share your ideas and when you do – as Mary advised us to – “look for the signs, like the ‘tell me more about it’ body language”, and what I’ve heard plenty of times now: ‘know the room’. Suki maintained:

“Know who you’re meeting, research them. Be informed… Network in the community and surround yourself with like-minded people to work out a system and a formula…”

Jana’s counsel was that if you have an idea – go for it! 

“You’ll learn more by starting something on your own. If you have an idea that you seriously believe in, start your own business!”

Unexpectedly becoming a woman in tech 

Here in the newly-branded ‘Silicon Valley of South London’ there are a 1,000+ tech companies shunning Shoreditch and choosing Croydon, London’s largest borough.

I never thought that I, with zero IT qualifications, would be a ‘woman in tech’, involved in the Croydon tech scene, but I’m addicted to my laptop, smart phone and a number of social media accounts and, like it or not, these are the things that are shaping our lives.

CTC’s fantastic FREE training has meant that I can get involved in Croydon’s tech scene in a more meaningful way to explore my own project.

The Croydon Tech City MBA Course offers empowering education for entrepreneurs for FREE. So far CTC classes, ‘How to Write a Kick-Ass Business Plan’ and ‘Social Media For Start-Ups’, with Wendy Ager and Tara Green, have been invaluable on my journey.

New to tech? Then there are plenty of ways to get with the program:

  • The panel advised, read ‘The Tipping Point’, by Malcolm Gladwell.
  • Try learning code, free @CodeAcademy
  • Follow @coderinheels on Twitter
  • Attend Croydon Tech City’s amazing monthly events and learn from the wonderful guest speakers

The next Croydon Tech City event takes place at Thursday 18th June at 7:30pm at Matthews Yard, Croydon. To attend, please register here.

Joyce Veheary

Joyce Veheary

Joyce has a background in film and theatre, but she's also trying to make the world a bit greener. As founder of garden sharing site LendandTend.com she's turning grey spaces green, like Croydon's Fairfield Halls NCP carpark rooftop and as an alumni of Croydon Tech City's MBA; this star pupil is using her newfound knowledge to use tech for good. In founding Lend and Tend; she's turned a passion for food and growing edible produce into a way we can connect in our communities via gardening. Lover of The Arts, plays, poetry, poached eggs and plants.

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