Startups

How to boost diversity in the Spanish startup ecosystem

We wanted to use the March edition of our monthly video podcast to put focus on the brilliant women founders in our startup ecosystem. Luckily we have many to choose from in Barcelona, so we invited business angel and co-founder and CEO of B-Wom Helena Torras, co-founder of Geenapp Gina Tostand CEO and co-founder of Eelp! Nina Alastruey to discuss the status for women in tech in 2017, with a special focus on Spain and Barcelona.

Helena Torras is the co-founder and CEO of B-Wom as well as being an experienced business angel and director of Fund Of Funds.

Being a women is an advantage

Torras explains that being an entrepreneur, and being a woman in startups has changed a lot the last ten years. However, a decade ago, she always felt that being a woman was an advantage:

I was the only one, so when I went an event or a meeting, people remembered me. Ten years ago, all investors and entrepreneurs were men, that has changed with time, but I always saw being a women as an advantage.

Alastruey has a different approach that what it means being a woman in tech in 2017:

I think it’s super tough and very difficult. I remember being in an investor meeting with my previous startup in Silicon Valley, and one of the investors asked me what I did at the company. I said I was the CEO, and he was super surprised, he thought I worked with marketing, that’s the general conception.

Tost which founded Geenapp four years ago, said it wasn’t easy becoming an entrepreneurs, but that other women in the startup community, made it much easier:

Compared to Helena and Nina I don’t have that much experience, but when I started out it was easier because I had a network of great women entrepreneurs from Barcelona around me, and that empowered me to work even harder.

The power of diverse teams

All three entrepreneurs believe the startup ecosystem is the perfect place for women interesting in tech to start their career.

Alastruey puts it like this:

Women are incredible as they’re able to multi-task in a different way than men are capable of. For a startup that needs everyone to take responsibility, this is a skill that is in demand.

Tost, founded Geenapp together with Javier Casares and Jaime Ferre:

I have a very diverse team, and from the beginning I was always the multitasker, doing everything, and I think that’s why my more experienced team-members liked me. We started working together almost five years ago, and we’ve know raised a kid that’s kind of big.

Gina Tost co-founded Geenapp with her founders almost five years ago. The company links app creators and users is one of the Spain’s most successful SaaS startups.

Torras has invested in many different types of teams, but she says one thing is clear:

It’s not about having only women or having only men, all studies show that diverse teams perform better than non-diverse startups. It’s all about finding the right balance of talent, and I think a diverse team is the best way to go.

CEO and co-founder of Eelp!, Nina Alastruey think it’s extremely tough to be a women entrepreneur in 2017.

Need to prioritize networking

Even though Torras has never seen being a women as a negative thing in the startup community, she does have some advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs:

Some founders think it’s enough to do well during working hours, but I think you need to go out and network and meet people. It’s a key to building trust with investors and other entrepreneurs.

Alastruey says there’s still challenges also in these areas, and that women founders often are kept out of the networking circle because a lot of it happens in an environment mostly reserved for men:

You rarely see investors who are men inviting a women founder to play golf, and it’s not as normal to go out with your investors and have a beer if you’re a woman as if you’re a man.

Torras disagrees:

I do all the same things as any other man would do, investor or entrepreneur.

Support each other

Tost doesn’t think there’s a clear path to making the startup ecosystem more diverse:

There’s no list of things we should get done to become a more diverse tech hub, it boils down to supporting each other as women in tech and working really hard for what you want to achieve.

Also Torras thinks supporting each other’s progress is more important than anything else:

I always believed in seeing opportunities, before challenges. I like to stay positive and focus on the positive things that are happening in the space of women in tech in Spain.

She continues:

If you are involved in the startup ecosystem, and you show ambition and the right vision, I think being a women is more and more becoming an advantage.

Torras explains that there’s big things going on, and that she can’t reveal exactly what yet, but that it will benefit women in tech in Barcelona and Spain is for sure.

To get the full discussion, take a look at the video in the top.

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