Colleen Wong With no technical experience Colleen set-up the successful My Gator Watch for children and seniors.

Now, the inspirational mother of two plans to evolve the product from a tracker for kids, to a wearable mobile device for seniors that can track location and detect falls, to help the elderly maintain independence

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Before starting Techsixtyfour, I was a stay at home mum for 18 months (hardest job in the world) and before that, I was a VP in sales in investment banking.

My idea for My Gator Watch came to me almost four years ago when I was with my two babies, then aged 4 months and 18 months old. I saw a fellow mum running around looking for her young child and my first thought was ‘how can we be more connected to our younger children so we don’t lose their minds.’ A few weeks later, Techsixtyfour was born.

My Gator Watch is a mobile phone and GPS/WIFI tracker made for children between the ages of 5-11. It does not have access to the Internet, social media or games. The watch is designed to offer peace of mind to parents who have a child too young for a smartphone but old enough to want some independence. My Gator watch is pre-installed with a sim, mic and speaker and can be used almost anywhere in the world.

I raised £200k in July 2017 through crowdfunding which allowed me to build a team and focus on marketing. I now have a team of 13 flexible working staff, most of whom are mums of young children. I strongly believe in the flexible work culture because so many mums and dads just want to put their children first but can’t or feel guilty doing it. I tell my team to put their family and health above work and the productivity is the best I have ever seen. I hope to build the first technology brand which hires only flexible working staff.

I have now put together a world class team to build a wearable for the ageing and dementia market. We are building Freedom G, a wearable tracker and mobile phone that has the world’s most accurate location tracking (sub 1m) both indoors and outdoors. We have focused on making it extremely simple, useful and affordable.

We have listened to hundreds of people tell their stories about living with dementia and we believe we have a revolutionary solution that can track, protect and communicate with our loved ones while giving us peace of mind.

How did you feel when you were chosen for Sky’s Women in Tech Scholarship?

I was speechless. I really didn’t expect them to choose an ‘older’ Scholar as there were age restrictions in the past but it was confirmation that I have been doing something amazing for the last five years. Working alone sometimes makes you forget about your own achievements as it seems more like a battle every day so being chosen by a group of experts and by such a large well known organisation was a wonderful validation.

What has happened since you won the scholarship? How has the initiative helped?

I have met with many people both at Sky and at other companies and all of whom have been very supportive in my work. I have done many talks to encourage other career changers, mums and women to start a career in tech. I have also been invited to speak about diversity and inclusion.

The £25k grant has allowed me to start building my next wearable which is one for the ageing/dementia market. I have also been given two mentors and the one who I speak to monthly has really helped me get through a lot of hardships. Being an entrepreneur is lonely and you do need someone to talk to who is not a friend or family member but who you can share every detail with.

How do you think initiatives like Sky’s Women in Tech Scholarship helps open doors for women and ensure greater diversity in tech?

Most definitely. The PR around the campaign is spread far and wide and I think the Scholars really do inspire women to think about tech in different ways. I am so pleased that Sky increased the age limit for the Scholars as women of any age can get into tech. I started at 40!

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Listen and learn from people who know more than you. Be humble. Have some fun! Being serious and focused all the time doesn’t build long lasting relationships!

Have you faced any personal battles? How did you overcome them?

My biggest personal battle was trying to start a tech business while taking care of two babies. Everyone thought I was crazy…and I mean everyone. No one really supported what I was doing merely because they were worried about my lack of sleep and ability to think with everything that was going on. But I know myself and when I have an idea, it will take more than two babies to stop me. I overcame the hardships just by having so much adrenaline that I just powered through.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Offer courses not just in technology but in other subject areas such as finance and marketing as it is important to always see the bigger picture in anything that we do. I also think that companies should be supportive of women who need a career break to have children and who want to return with a flexible role. When a working mother can put her children first without feeling guilty, this leads to productivity and loyalty.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would use my magic wand to make more TV shows which show women doing amazing things in technology and not just programmers or computer scientists but roles which people can relate to which involve technology. I would also use the same wand to remove reality shows as I find a lot of those shows don’t encourage young women in positive ways.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I am a big fan of networking events as I love talking to people and learning from them. I think building long lasting relationships is key to success and so any resources that allows you to meet new and amazing people.