Allyship in action: how men became pillars in my tech entrepreneurial debut

4 minute read

'By empowering women in tech, men are investing in a future where success knows no gender.'

The theme for UN International Women's Day is 'Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress', which resonates profoundly with me as a female entrepreneur in the tech industry. Inspired by this, I would like to share some of my thoughts on this year’s theme and acknowledge the people who believed in my concept, as well as the men who invested in me - joining me on my mission to revolutionise the hospitality industry with FlairMakers, a freelance talent marketplace.

Over a year ago, I graduated from an Executive MBA Programme at Saïd Business School, specialising in Entrepreneurial Thinking, Strategic Leadership, and Global Complexities and Risk. While some may view this as merely an academic achievement, for me it was pivotal in setting the stage for the next chapter of my life, both personally and professionally.

After 17 years in the hospitality industry, equipped with theoretical knowledge, practical expertise, and a profound desire to make an impact, I embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship. Inspired by the ethos of stakeholder capitalism and the words of Dr Martin Luther King - 'What are you doing for others?' - I founded FlairMakers, my solution to the industry’s most pressing issue: a shortage of talent.  

Here are some of the key aspects I learned in my first year:

Investment is not just financial

My first seven investors were male, and beyond monetary contributions, they brought with them invaluable expertise, networking opportunities, and emotional support. Their willingness to uplift me and believe in my vision has empowered me to conquer challenges and pursue my dreams fearlessly, and for this, I will always be grateful. 

Listen to the people who have gone before

Navigating entrepreneurship can be overwhelming, with a constant stream of resources and advice at your disposal. At times, this can feel like information overload, but it’s vital to understand the importance of guidance from those who have walked similar paths. Surrounding myself with experienced entrepreneurs instilled a sense of trust and confidence while increasing my appetite for risk.

Change your mindset

Transitioning from an employee in the hospitality industry to an entrepreneur in the same industry demanded a profound shift in my mindset. Embracing discomfort, personal development, and coaching became integral parts of my journey. Even amidst financial insecurities, it’s important to stay laser-focused on your vision to inspire those around you.

Embrace learning 

As someone who started with limited tech knowledge, I leaned on the expertise of my investors with technical backgrounds. Collaborating closely with my tech lead, I immersed myself in the intricacies of our platform's development, embracing the learning curve with enthusiasm. When founding a business, resources can be scarce, but it’s important to see this as an opportunity to upskill and learn more about your industry.

Be resilient 

Psychologist Angela Duckworth said, 'As much as talent counts, effort counts twice.' This is a lesson I have learned while founding FlairMakers. Pitching for funding tested my resilience, with rejection common for all entrepreneurs. Patience is a skill that I have had to develop, navigating lengthy decision-making processes while maintaining my enthusiasm and constantly improving my offering. 

Build a support ecosystem

Joining business networks and surrounding myself with fellow entrepreneurs provided a lifeline amidst the emotional roller coaster of entrepreneurship. Groups including Angel Funds and Foundations for Women Entrepreneurs offered me constant support and wisdom that has helped me along my journey.

Believe whole-heartedly in what you’re doing

Before I began my journey, I was warned that entrepreneurship would be difficult. But no one can prepare you for the sacrifices and perseverance that it demands. No matter how many resources you have at your disposal, there is no guarantee of financial stability and not too many ways to speed up the process of building tech products. Understanding the reasons driving my journey, and having supporters who share my beliefs, has allowed me to navigate challenges with determination.

I am grateful to everyone who has supported me on my debut as a female tech entrepreneur. From those who I studied with for my EMBA, which gave me the courage to take my first steps, to my shareholders who believed in me and the idea, offering me the push to get started. Their investment in my potential has put into practice an investment in women, showing that together, men and women can bridge the gender gap for leaders in tech.

Oxford Executive MBA.