Well Behaved Women Rarely Found Startups

“A pioneer is not someone who makes her own soap. She is one who takes up her burdens and walks toward the future.” (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich). A quick look at women in the UK startup scene and how they are defining and pointing to startup trends.

With London’s Startup Weekend looming, the 14th September saw a precursor event at Tech City’s Google Campus specifically focusing on women entrepreneurs ‘Startup Weekend Women’s Edition‘. This month however saw a stark warning with the question: ‘Why are so few women working in technology?‘ by The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss. It’s a good question. Women in the UK business still find great inequality, with 49% of employees being women, yet 33% make up management (with 9.6% being FTSE250 board members) (UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills BIS). This disparity translates to UK startups, with recent moves to redress this at least pledging to. A recent UK BIS report highlights the problem, but also opportunity starkly:

“If we fully used the skills and qualifications of women who are currently out of work, it could deliver economic benefits £15 to £21 billion per year. And if women set up businesses at the same rate as men, there would be an extra 150,000 start-ups in the UK each year.”

The UK is now coming in to a period where women are not only breaking in to senior management and developer roles, but also in to a new generation of being veteran mentors to new startups. It’s time to put the stats from BIS in to practice; here are some of the latest co-Founder rising stars of the UK startup scene who are:


A startup that’s invented a pastime

Name: Victoria Webbon

Company: Camp In My Garden

Founded: 2011

What it does: From bamping to glamping, the UK loves a night under canvas. Camp In My Garden was founded a year ago by Victoria Webbon to allow anyone to offer their garden as a short-break camping spot. This startup is still in it’s infancy and it’s not currently about generating huge revenue, but it’s a trendsetter – fueling a new way of holidaying. This said, both taking a percentage of fees and advertising on the site are set to generate a sustainable business.

Follow them:

Twitter: Camp In My Garden

Facebook: Camp In My Garden


Work-Horse Tech

A tool that’s indispensable in the startup and tech conference world

Name: Natalie Downe

Company: Lanyrd

Founded: 2010

What it does: Natalie Downe, along with her husband Simon Willison created Lanyrd on their honeymoon; allowing users to bring event information together in to one place, with photos, blogs and social feeds, categorised by speaker and event. The site also allows you to track events and friends on Twitter to see who’s going and what’s going on. Like Camp In My Garden, Lanyrd is a child of the 2010’s, but it’s place in the social/tech scene has meant it feels like it’s been around for longer. It’s place in the tech world was solidified by both $1.4 million in seed funding and heavy usage during SXSW 2012. Natalie’s work on Lanyrd makes her stand out, being both co-founder and front-end developer.

Follow them:

Twitter: Natalie & Lanyrd

Facebook: Lanyrd


Being Big But Being Unique

Leading the pack in agency specialisation

Name: Sarah Wood

Company: Unruly Media

Founded: 2006

What it does: Sarah Wood created Unruly Media in London with Matthew Cooke and Scott Button. The agency has now grown to 11 major world city offices and has ‘delivered, tracked and audited 1.65 billion video views across 2,000+ successful social video campaigns for over 400 brands’. At the start of this year it hit an even larger milestone, gaining $25 million in Series A investment. It’s size has not diminished it’s mission ‘to deliver the most awesome social video campaigns on the planet’, keeping a cool and certainly UK identity.

Follow them:

Twitter: Sarah & Unruly Media

Facebook: Unruly Media


Making Noise

New social tools

Name: Michelle You

Company: Songkick

Founded: 2007

Songkick allows people to share photos and setlists at concerts, interact with people that are there, making it the second biggest live music site after Ticketmaster, personalisation is key. Before, during and after an event, users can track artists, create alerts for concerts and buy tickets bridging the gap between live and virtual where other services have either focused on aggregating music or selling tickets. It’s the second-screen space for live music events, whether you’re there or not. The site is not just innovative, it has stats to back up the concept with 5 million unique users per month and it recently landed in $10 million. Claims to be the second-biggest live-music site after Ticketmaster.

Follow them:

Twitter: Michelle & Songkick

Facebook: Songkick


Women Defining and Demonstrating Trends in Tech

Each of the examples here show women not only setting trends, but also showing the wider UK startup world key trends in the tech world. Camp In My Garden is a key indicator that tech can produce new ways of living, stepping out of the norm to have fun as well as save money in austere times. Songkick shows how social is becoming more and more micro, people want to come together around interests, Michelle You has produced a service that rocks, at the same time as the bands do.

Events-meet-tech are another key trend, like second screen apps such as Zeebox, Shazam and GetGlue, Songkick shows that people no longer experience events in isolation or next to those immediately next to them, Lanyrd organises the chaos. Moreover, Unruly Media has established itself as the go-to agency for social video content, showing the trend in entertainment and events. Whether it’s their (now long running in tech terms) viral video chart, or their rise as a solid agency, they have shown the key trend of (like Songkick), agencies, like apps, need to be specialists – this key trend is challenging the old media ‘full service’ mantra that prevails currently in tech.

All these apps are shaking up their industries, UK startups founded by women, showing how absurd both the barriers to entry are for women, and the statistics I started this article with. To bastardise Simone de Beauvoir ‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a co-founder‘.