Maria Perada

As strategic partnerships lead at Capchase, Maria is responsible for growing strategic partnerships and investigating opportunities in the market to exploit the provision of partnership services and drive growth.

Prior to Capchase, Maria occupied the role of growth manager for the Org and investment manager for VentureCity.

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

I’m 29 years old and currently live in New York City with my husband and my dog. For the past year and a half, I’ve led Strategic Partnerships & Business Development at alt-finance leader Capchase where I am responsible for sourcing, striking, and managing strategic partnerships and collaborations that bring scalable distribution of our products.

What I love about my role is building strategic relationships, aligning interests, and creating efficiencies throughout organisations. Every partnership is unique in its own way and as a result a totally different challenge. I love learning the ins and outs of every organisation and building mutually beneficial relationships where the whole of the partnership is greater than the sum of its parts, to the benefit of the market and our customers

During this time, we have already closed partnerships with some of the largest organisations that service early-stage startups such as Mercury, Techstars, AWS, Ramp and some of the largest VC funds in the US and Europe. My goal is to help us strike partnerships that help us achieve exponential growth by leveraging the networks and large customer base of our partners.

Prior to Capchase, I was an Investment Manager at TheVentureCity, an early-stage venture capital fund, where she deployed $36 million in early-stage companies including Returnly (acquired by Affirm), Spotahome, Cabify, and RecargaPay. Prior to that, I started her career as an institutional trader at Morgan Stanley in New York.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did not sit down and plan a long-term career but I always knew what I wanted to tackle in the present and where I saw myself in the next 5 years. In the earlier stages of my career, what mattered the most to me was working with incredibly smart and talented people that I could learn from in a sector with exciting challenges and problems to solve. As long as I was building my skills in an industry that I was passionate about, I knew I was laying down the building blocks of something that could eventually become very big. I was also not afraid to pivot careers to get a diverse set of experience to eventually double down on what excited me the most. This explains how I went from Wall Street to Venture Capital and eventually to operating at a startup. Because, why stay building skills in an industry that you don’t love just because you just started there? Early career years are for experimentation so you can double down and build a long-term career in something that you love.

Have there been many challenges and how did you overcome them?

There have been a lot of challenges – from navigating the high-pressure environment of a trading floor to building and adapting a partnerships playbook in an incredibly fast growing technology business.

It all boils down to taking one problem at a time and not getting overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge or number of problems to be solved. Learning that failing is okay as long as you learn and iterate quickly. Knowing that every problem is temporary and there is nothing that doesn’t have a solution if you sit down and build a solid plan to tackle it.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Undoubtedly, I consider my contribution to Capchase’s continued global acceleration my biggest achievement to date. To think that, in the last year alone, we have gone from 0 to hundreds of partnerships closed that bring a significant portion of the company’s revenue, all while building a community of thought leaders in SaaS has been some of my most rewarding accomplishments!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Genuine self-belief. Modesty will get you nowhere in any industry but especially in the very competitive tech industry. You have to back yourself. As women this is perhaps even more true – we must speak up, ask questions, challenge, negotiate, put that idea forward. Nobody gets handed anything for free, we need to take it.

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

Never give up. No matter how many challenging situations or obstacles you have to overcome, or how many times you feel like quitting – don’t. From my personal experience of working in the tech field, the difference that determines how successful someone is isn’t usually their professional background or skillset, it is almost always their determination and grit. This industry may be abundant with opportunity, but that’s not to say it’s an easy one to get into and thrive in. Making the cut requires perseverance and self-belief – and even if you don’t feel up to it, fake it until you make it.

Particularly for women in the industry, I’ll also add don’t be afraid to speak up. During my time in the industry, it’s always surprised me just how much more confident male colleagues are in projecting their ideas, making their demands heard, pushing for promotions and pay rises and the like – even though their female counterparts may be just as if not even more talented. If we are to truly achieve gender-balance where opportunities are equal to all, this has to change. After all, all too often, those who shout loudest get noticed – so my advice would be, get heard.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Undoubtedly, yes. While there’s certainly been huge progress made in recent years, the reality is that the stereotype of tech being confined to young, savvy males is still very much widely seen and reflective of the current demographic. To counter this, we need to see more firms up the ante when it comes to diversity and inclusion strategy not just at recruitment level but at retention level – through culture, engagement, learning and development and training.

There’s no silver bullet, but a lot of problems could be solved if women were simply better represented. Encouraging young women to pursue careers in tech or study STEM subjects could make the difference in the long term.

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

Companies need to be mindful of unconscious biases and create a working culture where this is in check. Create a culture where opportunities are given based on true impact in the business and not based on who has the loudest voice.

We also need to see more opportunities for women later in their careers, such as returning mothers, to retrain and reskill themselves into tech. It’s important that people realise it’s never too late. Just like myself, entering tech slightly later in my career, there’s always opportunity to diversify, upskill or even reskill.

There are currently only 21 percent 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?

From my experience, I think a lot of the issues start in the classroom, with girls traditionally discouraged from entering what are perceived to be more ‘manly’ physical occupations and therefore less inclined to enroll in Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths (STEM) subjects. While this is slowly changing, it has impacted the ratio of females entering tech so far.

This needs to change and quickly. In the future, it would be great to see children, of all genders, races and backgrounds, encouraged to do anything and everything they desire. We need to ingrain the art of the possible to all very early on.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

It would seem that there’s an endless influx of new resources, be it podcasts, new tech titles and webinars, popping up all the time which is great. However, what I would say, especially for those starting out, is take the time to find a local community. There’s lots of community groups online which can provide a valuable outlet when looking to actually speak to somebody who shares your experiences, understands what you’re going through and can provide support. If possible, I’d also suggest looking for a mentor. I think what’s great in this industry, especially in the female community, is we understand how difficult it can be and are committed to making the journey easier for others.