The stats around diversity in the wider global tech ecosystem are still poor, with stories of bro-focused company cultures rife and reports, such as this analysis of how VCs talk differently about men and women who pitch them, emerging with seemingly depressing regularity.
In the face of all this, however, women in the community have been working hard to make it easier for other women to join in. From Girls in Tech to Springboard Enterprises, the homegrown Girl Geek Academy and Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine, it seems there has never been more support for women looking to launch their own startup.
However, Holly Stephens felt there was a gap and decided to fill it with her own group, Triangles.
Blending an online forum with networking and educational events, Triangles looks to be more of a results-oriented network that looks beyond just the tech community to also incorporate women in small business, encouraging members to connect and collaborate, and learn from each other.
The idea was born out of Stephens’ own debates over the years over whether she should stick with the corporate world or venture out into the world with her own business.
“In the back of my mind, I always knew I wasn’t really meant for the corporate world; I used to work for Google, the most amazing company in the world, and I loved it, but there was something in the back of my mind saying, I’m not meant to be doing this,” Stephens explained.
Having worked on a couple of side projects before starting at Google, she nevertheless didn’t leave the idea of entrepreneurship for long; at Google she worked on a project called the Digital Garage, which aims to train small businesses in digital marketing.
After moving to Australia to work on Android Pay for a while, the itch to pursue her own business always there, Stephens decided last December to start looking beyond the tech giant and started doing some freelance digital marketing work for some small businesses.
Going over the internal debate she was having, Stephens realised there must be other women having it too.
“I thought, there must be more women out there who feel like I do but aren’t as close to or as knowledgeable about the startup world as I am, but if they could be, and could get access to people and know where to start, they could do this too,” she said.
So, Stephens set up a quick landing page for Triangles – “you don’t start building stuff unless you know there’s anyone interested,” she said – and wrote a blog post, and within a day or two she said she had had around 50 people contact her.
A little while later she got the domain name and opened it up for sign ups. About a month on, there are around 300 women and men on the Triangles network.
The platform incorporates a network-wide feed as well as specific hubs, such as Questions and Groups. Here they can share and find resources such as tools, books, podcasts and other things that may be useful in helping someone get a startup off the ground.
Along with the online element will be face to face events, through which Stephens said she wants to “bring the entrepreneurial spirit into one room” and really get the results-driven networking going. With the platform free to join, Triangles will be monetised through events.
Linking up with partners including Springboard Enterprises Australia and Tank Stream Labs, Stephens is keen to ensure there is always a learning element to events, and as such is developing material for workshops that will take participants through each of the steps that one goes through in starting a business, from how to refine your idea to writing a business plan, finding financing, customer validation, and so on.
The majority of members so far are based in Sydney, however there are others across Australia and dotted around the world, some coming from the UK and US.
They are at various stages of their business journeys, with some still working in corporate roles and feeling out how to go about starting a business on the side, while a couple who have built big businesses are there to offer advice.
“I just want to make women feel that, if they’ve got that ambition inside of them that they want to do something else, they shouldn’t be so scared to do it. I want to make it easier for them.”
Image: Holly Stephens. Source: Supplied.