Listen to our latest She Talks Tech podcast on 'The Wonder of Wearables' with Marija Butkovic, Women of Wearables

She Talks Tech - The Wonder of Wearables

Today we hear from Marija Butkovic, Founder and CEO of Women of Wearables.

Once considered a niche market, femtech is one of the fastest growing health industries, estimated to reach $50 billion by 2025.

With the surge of innovations in fertility, menstrual health, sexual health, pregnancy, menopause, Marija discusses how the rise of the women in tech movement has led to women building femtech products that solve real problems using technology as an enabler.

Marija shares insights on how the tech industry is delivering next generation solutions to female health issues that were neglected and under-researched for far too long.

If you want to find out more about Marija, you can connect with her on LinkedIn or visit www.womenofwearables.com

LISTEN HERE

‘She Talks Tech’ brings you stories, lessons and tips from some of the most inspirational women (and men!) in tech.

From robotics and drones, to fintech, neurodiversity and coronavirus apps; these incredible speakers are opening up to give us the latest information on tech in 2021.

Vanessa Valleley OBE, founder of WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen brings you this latest resource to help you rise to the top of the tech industry. Women in tech make up just 17 per cent of the industry in the UK and we want to inspire that to change.

WeAreTechWomen are delighted to bring this very inspiring first series to wherever you normally listen to podcasts!

So subscribe, rate the podcast and give it a 5-star review – and keep listening every Wednesday morning for a new episode of ‘She Talks Tech’.

Produced by Pineapple Audio Production.

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Computer Weekly Top 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Marija Butkovic, Sheree Atcheson & Sophie Deen amongst those named on the 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech list

Computer Weekly Top 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Marija Butkovic, Sheree Atcheson & Sophie Deen are amongst those named on Computer Weekly's 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech list.

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, CEO, founder and head stemette at social enterprise Stemettes topped the list for 2020. Stemettes is an award-winning social enterprise inspiring the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics roles via a series of events and opportunities. In three years 7,000 girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe have had attended Stemette experiences. As part of the initiative she has also Co-Founded Outbox Incubator: the worlds first tech incubator for teenage girls. She sits on the boards of Redfield Asset Management, Urban Development Music Foundation and Inspirational YOU. She has previously worked at Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard, Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers.

Imafidon recevied an MBE in 2017 for her services to STEM.

In September 2020, Imafidon joined the Hamilton Commission, a research project set up by race car driver Lewis Hamilton to help find and break down barriers to recruitment for black people in UK motorsport.

Now in its ninth year, the 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech list, was introduced in 2012 to make female role models in the sector more visible and accessible.

While the original list in 2012 featured only 25 women, it was expanded in 2015 to include 50 women, going on to also introduce annual lists of Rising Stars and a Hall of Fame to ensure as many women in the sector as possible are given recognition for their contribution to the tech sector and the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the IT industry.

Also recognised in the list were Marija Butkovic, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables; Sophie Deen, CEO, Bright Little Labs; Sheree Atcheson,director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Peakon; June Angelides, venture capitalist, Samos Investments; Liz Williams, CEO, FutureDotNow; Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank; and Carrie Anne Philbin, director of education, Raspberry Pi Foundation.

You can view the full list here.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

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Marija Butkovic featured

Inspirational Woman: Marija Butkovic | Founder & CEO, Women of Wearables

Marija Butkovic is digital marketing and business consultant who has worked across a range of projects in different industry sectors, including legal, journalism, tech, IoT, wearable tech and fashion tech.

She is a founder and CEO of Women of Wearables - first global organisation aiming to support, connect and mentor women and diverse groups in wearable tech, fashion tech and IoT.

Marija has been featured in major tech and business publications such as Forbes, TechCrunch, The Next Web, Huffington Post and many more, and regularly appears as a public speaker and panelist on conferences, meetups and corporate events. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Marija was selected as one of the Most Influential Women in UK tech by Computer Weekly. She has also been included in the Top 100 Influencers on Gender Equality and Diversity and Top STEM Entrepreneurs by Onalytica.

She regularly writes and blogs on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, diversity, startups and entrepreneurship. She collaborates with startup accelerators and incubators in London and worldwide on delivering help as a startup mentor and advisor and is also a STEM ambassador.

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

Although my background is in legal (I was a corporate lawyer for eight years before I got into tech), I now work as an independent business, marketing and innovation consultant, startup mentor and advisor, delivering marketing workshops to startups and freelancers in tech space, and I’m very proud to collaborate with several incubators and accelerators not only in London but also globally. I’m also a STEM ambassador, blogger and public speaker.

Some of the challenges I faced during my entrepreneurial journey - lack of women, lack of trust in women as founders, and a general lack of support when it comes to women in this specific industry led me to co-found Women of Wearables (or just WoW, as we call it), an organisation that supports, connects and inspires women in wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, VR, AR and STEM in general. Our mission, first and foremost, is to encourage more women and diverse teams to participate in building hardware and software products as designers, product managers and developers or to be founders of their own companies, which will create more jobs for women in STEM. WoW currently has a growing community of more than 20k+ female founders, products and UX designers, developers, smart textile designers, executives and managers, all working in wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT and VR/AR industries, in more than 30 countries.

Currently, we at WoW are focusing on two key topics that our community is mostly interested in: one is FemTech and HealthTech, since digital health market is expected to reach $536 billion by 2025 and women's health accounts for only 4% of the overall funding for research and development for healthcare products and services. This is something that has to change, half of the world’s population are women and we certainly cannot be niche. Women’s health has been a taboo for too long, and the only way we can change perception and bias towards it, is to talk about it and raise awareness. Did you know that, on average, it takes 7.5 years to get a formal diagnosis of endometriosis - a condition that can cause crippling period pains? Or that 58% of the women affected by symptoms of menopause said that this sometimes caused them problems at work? Neither did we, and that’s precisely why we think it’s time to remove the stigma around women’s health, especially reproductive health and start doing something about it. Through this particular events series we will connect our global FemTech and HealthTech ecosystem, help founders grow and scale their businesses and enable easier access to funding by connecting them with the right investors and partners. First event is this series is already scheduled for the 18th of September and we would love WeAreTechWomen community to join us!

Another very important area for us at WoW is education and empowerment of women around topics of money, personal finances, investment and fundraising. Only 5.6 per cent of UK women run their own companies and women launch businesses with 53 per cent less capital on average than men. It’s estimated that boosting female entrepreneurship could add £250bn to the UK economy (according to The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, March 2019), and it’s just a no-brainer for us that this is something we all need to encourage and support. If anyone from your community is interested to join us, our first panel discussion Women Investing in Women is scheduled for the 25th of September and we have four incredible women who will be discussing all things entrepreneurship, diversity and inclusion!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I actually never did that. Before getting into tech, I was a corporate lawyer and stayed in that industry eight years before moving from Croatia to London. I think that the only plan you can have is only to work on something that makes you happy and fulfilled and go with the flow.

So how it all started? After graduating from the university and spending eight years working as a legal professional, I realised there must be something more creative, fulfilling and challenging than what I was doing at that time. And I also wanted to create more value and make more impact in my day job. My transition to tech has been gradual, so I first started mentoring startups and writing for tech and business media titles, before I decided to quit my day job and pursue my career in tech. I don’t know if it was serendipity or just a combination of circumstances, but in 2014 I moved to London and co-founded Kisha Smart Umbrella, a wearable tech business with five of my friends and co-founders. I instantly fell in love with wearable tech, an industry that has great potential of beautifully merging the visual with tech, and to enhance our daily lives at the same time. And then, in 2016, Women of Wearables happened. I think once you find your focus things start happening by themselves, it’s like a domino effect. Today, WoW communities are spread across five continents with chapters in 10+ cities and we indeed have a global footprint, something that happened completely organically and without me ever planning it.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Many, actually! :) I would say that anyone who has done such a drastic career change like me and every early-stage business goes through the same set of challenges, starting from imposter syndrome (I don’t have a diploma in tech, can I really do this?-mindset), to assembling the right team, to fundraising, to promoting and raising awareness about your brand, you name it, I’ve gone through it all. But I’ve also been lucky enough to work with some incredible people as my co-founders in both businesses, and without them it wouldn’t be possible to stand where I’m standing now.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I don’t know if it was my work in WoW or with startups, but I’m very proud to have been featured in some of the major tech and business publications such as Forbes, TechCrunch, The Next Web, Huffington Post and many more, and in 2017, 2018 and 2019 selected as one of the Most Influential Women in UK tech by Computer Weekly. This means a lot to me, because sometimes we need that recognition from outside to confirm how much impact and value we create for our network and community.

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

Persistence. Hustle. If you really want something, you’ll find a way to do it. Women are built to be strong, that’s just the way we are. Money should never be the first and main reason you decided to start your business. Money just comes as a byproduct if you execute it properly. Also, being kind and compassionate to other people always pays off. What goes around, comes around.

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

It’s not easy to completely change your career as I did, but it’s perfectly doable. For anyone who is just starting out or want to get to that next step in their career, I would advise to just trust what your gut tells you and focus on something you are really passionate about. You’ll find your purpose when you find the answer to your “why” question. Always ask why. Also, find out what are the hard skills you can use in the industry you like (in my case that’s wearable tech) and build on that. Remember to always learn from more experienced people and mentors, but believe in yourself; you have already achieved more than you think. Last, but not least, enjoy the journey. It’s all about the journey, always.

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

Conscious and unconscious biases and stereotypes are one of the biggest barriers in tech in general, not only towards women. We all have them. Women also tend to hold themselves back sometimes, for many reasons. When I first started in tech, I mentioned I had that imposter syndrome, since I didn’t have a degree in tech, and it seemed to me this was a prerequisite to succeed. Also, a lack of female role models. This is particularly important for young women who often think they aren’t good enough and are afraid to ask for a pay rise or a promotion. Seeing a woman above them in the organisation structure greatly helps to eliminate those doubts and raise confidence. Someone really smart once said: “You cannot be what you cannot see”. That’s so true.

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

I never got the chance to have a mentor myself, but I learned a lot from people I mentored and met along my professional journey. In a city like London you meet amazing people almost every day and some of them really inspire me in my everyday life and work. Finding a mentor, especially within the company or organisation you work for can be of a great help for your career.

Also, flexible work is extremely important and should become a norm. This has become clear to me even more ever since I became a mum. Being a mum shouldn’t exclude you from having a successful career in tech or business and vice versa.

There is currently only 17 per cent 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?

Give women more funding. Biases and prejudices are limiting our ability to see clearly. When we look at the evidence and research, we see that investing in female founders is extremely profitable. The business case for funding female founders is simple—female founders outperform their male counterparts. A recent study from Boston Consulting Group evaluated 350 companies that had been part of the MassChallenge program. The study revealed that, for every dollar of investment raised, female-run startups generated 78 cents in revenue, whereas male-run startups generated only 31 cents. As we might expect, women outperformed their male counterparts despite raising less money ($935K versus $2.12M). This data is consistent with several other studies.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Books have always been a great resource of knowledge for me! I’m currently reading Emilie Bellet’s - ‘You’re Not Broke, You’re Just Pre-Rich’ book and it’s perfect if you want to equip yourself with more knowledge on how to deal with anything from investment to better managing your personal finances. Events that our WoW woman Lu Li from Blooming Founders is running are also a great resource for anyone who wants to elevate their career in tech. And of course, WeAreTechWomen Conference is a go-to place for anyone who is either just starting out their career in tech or is an experienced techie. Education and learning is something you should never stop doing if you are a woman in tech. And to be honest, you just can’t. :)


Michelle Hua featured

Inspirational Women: Michelle Hua & Marija Butkovic | Co-Founders of Women of Wearables

 

Michelle Hua - co-founder of Women of Wearables and founder and CEO of Made With Glove and Marija Butkovic, co-founder of Women of Wearables and Kisha Smart Umbrella share their career journeys and why they decided to launch Women of Wearables (WOW).

What inspired you to start a business?

Michelle Hua Women of Wearables
Michelle Hua

Michelle: When I was working remotely as a lawyer for the Western Australian Government in Manchester, I rented a hot desk at a co-working space. I was surrounded by other entrepreneurs and their passion for their business, their self determination and motivation inspired me to resign from my job and start my own wearable technology company, Made With Glove.

After 2 years, I met Marija at the Wearable Tech Show in London in 2016 (who is also in the wearable tech industry) and we co-founded WoW.

Marija: Same as my co-founder Michelle, I was working as a lawyer for 8 years, before tapping into startup world. It all started as becoming a startup mentor, tech journalist and when I started organising hackathons for Croatian startup community. I soon realised it offers me much more creativity and independence than working 9-5 in a stuffy office, so when I moved to London in 2014 I just knew I had to have my own business. It all started by co-founding Kisha, world’s smartest fashion tech umbrella and until today our umbrellas have been sold and shipped to more than 40 different countries. After realising potential of wearable tech industry and lack of women in it, my co-founder Michelle and I decided to start WoW and empower and support women who already are in this industry, but also those who still struggle where to start.

What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?

Michelle: The greatest challenge in being my own boss is finding the time to do everything and be everywhere. Being a sole founder and CEO means you are the Chief Everything Officer. The greatest reward is meeting inspiring people every day, seeking new opportunities and being a STEM Ambassador especially to young girls. I have the freedom to make decisions according to my goals for the business and for the wider community.

Marija: Greatest challenge is wearing multiple hats all the time and managing my time effectively. Having multiple businesses and projects requires me to be super organised. The greatest reward is having my own freedom to do things when I want and how I want, being able to travel and work at the same time, which is a commodity not many people today have, and also making more impact now I have my own business.

What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?

Marija Butkovic Women of Wearables
Marija Butkovic

Michelle: It is so easy to work “in” your business every day that sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back to work “on” your business. Every week, writing down your to do list and ticking them off as you go along helps you look back and recognize your achievements. This is a reminder that when there are failures, these achievements are little successes that will help you get to your end goal. They might be just enough to keep you going because running a business is hard. It’s difficult to see the successes when all you’re focusing on is getting to the end goal and questioning why you aren’t there yet.

Marija: I used to stress out a lot if I wouldn’t tick off all the boxes on my to-do list before. Not any more. Now I have more smaller goals and focus on not more than 3 things in a day. I also try to dedicate at least two days per week on actual working, which means no meetings, no events, just me and my laptop. Learning to say ‘no’ is very important, too. Not every opportunity is the right opportunity. When it comes to failures, I see them as part of my learning process, so I always try to understand what could be improved for the next time. Failures are okay if they make you stronger and bring you useful experience which can help you in the future.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?

Michelle: Saying no is difficult because I don’t want to miss out on any opportunities or let anyone down. However, I’ve learnt that saying no means I can focus on my goals and vision for my business Made With Glove and for WoW.

Marija: I would say that finding a good team, especially co-founder, is crucial. There’s nothing worse than sharing your everyday office life and your work with the wrong people, and nothing better than knowing you can rely on your co-founder when it gets tough.

How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?

Michelle: Being a sole founder and constantly making decisions is tiring. My mentor helps me gain perspective when I’m overwhelmed with so many things to do. I can build my own relationships and networks in the industry. The tech industry is male dominated so having a female mentor to guide me as I navigate this new industry is really helpful.

Marija: Although I don’t have a mentor, I have mentored many startups and individuals over the last few years and that experience actually helped me figure out what are do’s and dont’s in entrepreneurial world. I also read a lot, mostly business books which proved to be really helpful, too.

What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?

Michelle: Networking comes in many ways both formal and informal so always be ready to seek opportunities and make connections at any given time.

Marija: I always say that my biggest and most important asset is my network. Whenever you can, try to meet someone new and even if that person is not directly connected with what you do, there is always something you can learn from them.

What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?

Michelle: Having a great support network is crucial as well as a great team who can help me scale and grow my business. It is only by having a great co-founder for WoW and staff that I can rely on to allow me the time to do the things that I’m better at. The real value is having a great team that I can trust to help me achieve my goals. Growth takes time and being patient and organized is key to planning for growth.

Marija: Scaling a business is harder than people usually think. We all read about those big business successes, but what people forgive is that overnight success usually comes after ten years. It’s better to go at slower pace and have a constant growth, than rush and then drain yourself. Prioritizing is very important, so finding the best team and then growing gradually is the best option, I think. Growth brings experience and wisdom, and we all must remember that business is something that never stops growing, and we never stop learning.

What does the future hold for you?

Michelle: I’m very excited about the future in particular for the wearables industry. It’s a new industry and being a part of that is very rewarding. I also have the opportunity to help shape its future through WoW because we are inspiring, supporting and connecting the current and the next generation women in wearables, IoT and AR/VR. Sharing it with my WoW co-founder Marija and my wearable tech assistant, Rachael makes the journey more exciting.

Marija: Many beautiful things, I hope. Wearable Tech, Fashion Tech, IoT and VR industry will grow a lot over the next few years, and being part of those industries enables me to shape not only my own future but also have impact on them. I’m a big advocate for getting more women into tech, which is the very reason I started WoW. My big passion is travelling, which I try to do whenever I can, together with my husband. Being an entrepreneur offers me that freedom, so taking the best from both worlds is what makes me truly happy.

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