While men have outnumbered women in tech in the past, this is set to change with the rise and rise of female online entrepreneurs, and the development of social meetups like Girls Who Code. These days, there is more support than ever for women to launch their own tech businesses. Natalie Massenet famously started net-a-porter.com from her kitchen in her Chelsea flat while she was expecting her first child while today, Google hosts a tech space exclusively for women on its Old Street campus.
While women have always been instrumental in fashion, a new generation of female entrepreneurs has dramatically shaped the landscape of e-Commerce, paving the way for other women to become successful tech entrepreneurs.
Here’s a list of five incredible companies (and the women behind them) that have refashioned e-Commerce:
1. notonthehighstreet.com: Holly Tucker & Sophie Cornish
One of the most famous sites to be launched in the UK since net-a-porter.com, these two women founded the company from a kitchen table in 2006. That table still exists, according to their website. Their premise was simple. Find the most original items from the best creative small businesses and bring them together on one site for users to browse and buy. This concept has proved a winning formula. Ten years later, their marketplace has sales of £100million and annual growth at 150% thanks to their ‘power sellers’, many of whom are also women. It’s a double win.
They say: “We have created this ecosystem of women now able to work around their families and have a career. By the end of this year we will have pumped in £250m into this hidden female army.”
2. Chloé Digital: Chloé Watts
Chloé Watts taught herself to code when she was a teenager. At 25, she’s built up an impressive career online, writing for The Huffington Post and running her own consultancy, aptly titled Chloé Digital, which provides strategy and support to fashion bloggers. As a web, developer, she was nicknamed the ‘creative developer’, but this perfectly sums up her skills- set. She loves technology as much as she loves fashion.
Watts says: “When you understand the technology yourself, you are ultimately empowered to do what you want to do.”
3. Lady Geek: Belinda Parmar
As the CEO of Lady Geek, Parmar went on to found Little Miss Geek to help raise awareness and encourage girls to be more tech-focused. Lady Geek was set up after an ‘eye-opening’ experience in a mobile shop, when the sales man began speaking really slowly to Parmar about smart phones and offered her a pink phone. Feeling patronised and alienated by technology companies, she realised these brands were making a ‘huge commercial mistake’. Her pioneering attitudes have earned her an OBE for services to women in technology.
Parmar says: “Tech is everywhere, it’s part of the very fabric of our lives, and more of us than ever know more than ever about it. The computer geek is no longer in the minority. We’re all geeks now, in our own way. That’s why we think it’s time for women to reclaim the word for the technology industry.”
4. Girl Meets Dress: Anna Bance
Co-founder Anna Bance spotted a gap in the market for luxury rental. In 2009, she left her job working in PR for Hermes to team up with Xavier de Lecaros-Aquisel. The two founders launched Girl Meets Dress. The up-and-coming site recently raised funds from Samwer Brother’s GFC fund and VideDressing.
Bance says: “Don’t over think it. There will never be a perfect time to leave your secure job, risk your salary decrease or take a chance on an idea which might not work, but what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll go back to your previous role until you come up with the next idea!”
5. Chic by Choice: Lara Vidreiro and Filipa Neto
These two women form a powerful, but dynamic duo. Their platform allows users to hire-out designer dresses at up to 85% of retail price. The company has secured $500,000 in investment and has built partnerships with boutiques and brands using an ecommerce platform. Users can rent dresses from £60 up to £600.
They Say: “As well as helping women to spend less by renting more, we’re also helping retailers and e-commerce sites to manage inventory excess in a cleverer way.”
A solid knowledge of technology and strong partnerships with suppliers and international couriers are just a few of the ingredients to a successful platform. Many of these women have managed to keep costs down by empowering sellers and brands to use their platform as a marketplace. While partnerships are instrumental to growth, operations and customer service are essential ingredients in sustaining growth and keeping customers happy in the long-run. These women know what it takes to run a successful business in the world of e-Commerce.