A fortnight ago I packed my bags and flew out of Manchester airport to Silicon Valley, home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world.
I’m here for three weeks as part of an all-female accelerator programme called The Women’s Start-up Lab. Eleven of us from around the globe are being guided through the programme by some of the best tech entrepreneurs in the world.
I am CEO and founder of The Link App, a multi-device, cloud-based, encrypted communication platform that allows solicitors to deliver updates to their clients instantly on their smartphone or via a web portal – the ‘what’s next’ after email.
When I first qualified as a solicitor, nothing prepared me for the amount of time I spent keeping my clients ‘in the loop’. It was a daily battle just to keep up with the constant emails, phone calls and letters going back and forth. My entrepreneurial spirit kicked in – and The Link App was born.
Being accepted on to this programme was a dream for me – an opportunity to pick the brains of some of the world’s leading tech visionaries, to learn, to polish our pitch and accelerate the growth of our company.
In week one we had our visions, business models and pitches challenged. It was great: I want to be challenged. I’ve actually grown fond of the ‘why’ word: it’s made me think differently, in ways I’d not even considered before. It’s made me more confident and that’s why I was excited to come on this programme.
The mission of the programme’s founders is to create a world where female entrepreneurs thrive and succeed through innovation and collaboration. Having International Women’s Day occur while I’ve been out here has been enlightening.
Social media and various news channels were full of commentary on women in business. There were stories of organisations who ‘understand’ equality and are doing the right things but there were many more of organisations who still don’t get it. It’s frustrating.
But as a group we shared our stories from around the world and one thing united us all: to continue to press for change in our respective countries and industries. Fighting for equality in business is important to me. It won’t happen overnight, but if we continue to share our successes, together we can make a difference.
I’m proud of what my team and I have achieved at The Link App in just a few years. The support I have received from fellow solicitors, to people within the tech industry, through to business experts, has been overwhelming – it’s why I am in California now.
When people believe in your vision, it’s amazing how much they are willing to do to help bring it to life.
— Julia Hartz (@juliahartz) March 14, 2018
“When you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life” ???? quote is so true with the #startup journey. Passed 15,000 connections on LinkedIn same month I’ve visited their head office building in San Fran and had mentoring by their ex head of product! #tech #inspired pic.twitter.com/Dxw66A8B6X
— Lauren Riley (@MissLaurenRiley) March 21, 2018
Upon her return from the US, she will share her key learnings from the WSL programme which could be useful to entrepreneurs with BusinessCloud.