TECH ENTREPRENEURSHIP: IT’S NOT JUST FOR BILL GATES ANYMORE
When it comes to technology entrepreneurship, the “good old days” aren’t really good; they’re just old, outdated, and in 2015, kicked to the curb. Shark Tanks aren’t swimming with white middle-aged men anymore. The ranks of tech entrepreneurs are being staffed with all races and ethnicities, and women have emerged as powerful moguls in all areas of business. Teenagers and college students have been forming billion-dollar app companies, and Third World countries have even stepped it up as successful IT business incubators.
In 2015, the nontraditional entrepreneur is more empowered to make their vision a reality, especially in the world of high tech. Let’s take a peek at some of the trends that are changing the traditional image of who’s a tech mogul.
Women: Kick-Start Your Start-Ups
According to a 2014 white paper by Dow Jones, women’s technology ventures are the hottest investments on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is the fundraising site where backers are invited to put cash into a plethora of projects, often in exchange for rewards.
Despite the fact that only 8% of women serve as CEOs of venture-backed companies, they continue to outpace men in raising funds for gaming and technology start-ups on this platform. In fact, women are 13% more likely to meet their Kickstarter financial goals than men. Dow Jones says that is primarily because these women-owned ventures are attracting the support of other women.
The average women-sponsored technology campaign on Kickstarter raises around $90,000. That’s a drop in the bucket when compared to venture capitalist companies, which raise $600,000 to $3 million in their initial funding efforts. However:
90% of the women with successful Kickstarter technology campaign projects were still afloat 18 months later
One-third of them reported revenues of at least $100,000
That’s a powerful argument for putting your money where the girls are.
Another cash cow for start-up projects, Crowdfunding, says this about its female users:
They are 61% more likely to meet their financial targets
They make up 41% of the small business, technology, and other campaigns that meet their overall financial goals on the site
While women still only sit on 17% of the Fortune 500 boards, women like Carrie Hammer are making waves as technology entrepreneurs. Carrie was named to the 15 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2015 by Entrepreneur magazine. Hammer is making tech news in 2015 by launching the first 3-D body scanner to track human fitness metrics, including BMI and body volume.
Other tech savvy women making the list include:
Kit Hickey, co-founder of Ministry of Supply, a technology-based men’s clothing line that helps regulate body temperature
Laura Costa, CEO of Prima-temp, whose technology monitors core body temperature to help with sleep loss, disease detection, and fertility
These are just some of the women casting aside traditional molds to create new technology in the marketplace. But they’re not the only ones.
Too Young to Vote: Start a Business Instead
Technology entrepreneurship isn’t just for adult women. Check out Vivienne Harr, Chief Inspiration Officer at Make a Stand. Make a Stand has a new mobile app that helps you launch fundraising campaigns for charity
Vivienne has experience raising funding for projects like this; she raised more than $100,000 for a human rights nonprofit. That may not sound like a lot of cash, but she did it by selling lemonade. She is, after all, just 10 years old.
At 15, Catherine Cook created myYearbook.com, a social networking site that allows teens to meet new people and play games. In 2010, they had $23 million in global revenue. In 2014, the company merged with Quepasa, a publicly traded company that offers social networking sites for Latinos. It was a $100 million deal … which we are pretty certain was just enough for Catherine to go to college at Georgetown.
Forget “Third World Country”: Come in First in Innovation
These days, Anesi and Osine Ikhianosime are typical teenagers. Ages 13 and 15 respectively, they live in Lagos, Nigeria. They’re concerned about all the typical teenage things — soccer, friends and also … coding, technology, and creating a faster mobile web browser. Called Crocodile Browser Lite, it’s being hailed by tech geeks as faster than Google Chrome, especially on non-smartphones.
This teenage duo are self-taught coders, using educational websites such like Code Avengers to create Crocodile Browser Lite that critics are hailing as the best mobile app on the market. Anesi and Osine are planning on attending MIT — so it’s safe to safe they’re just getting started as tech entrepreneurs.
From teenagers in Lagos to business incubators in Nairobi, the African continent is abuzz with tech entrepreneurship. In early 2014, Microsoft announced three partnerships with African incubators focused on tech business development, increased access to software, skills development, and capital investment in start-up companies. The partnership “will support the development of sustainable and scalable working environments across the continent, such as technology hubs and incubation centers, to stimulate entrepreneurship and support African startups.”
Some of the top innovators in the country include:
26-year-old Julie Alexander Fourie from South Africa, founder of iFix, a company that repairs and services all Apple products
Nigerian Uche Pedro, who, at age 29, founded BellaNaija, a new media company that delivers streaming content to audiences around the country
Isaac Oboth, the founder of Media256, a film and television production company in East Africa
And ClaimSync founder, Seth Akumani, from Ghana. Claim Sync offers claims processing software that enables hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities around the world to process electronic claims and automate patient records
The times, they are a-changin’, and in the world of tech start-ups, they’re evolving in a very positive direction for the nontraditional entrepreneur. Advancements in technologies, education, and the creation of new fundraising outlets have changed the look of these businesses.
More and more companies are creating opportunities for a wider audience of entrepreneurs. Organizations such as CODE2040 are specifically geared toward creating opportunities for Black and Latino tech entrepreneurs. Women 2.0 focuses on educating and creating networking opportunities for female tech entrepreneurs. These exciting innovations have brought the tools of business success to a much wider group of people.