March is Women’s History Month and today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. As a woman working in Atlanta’s startup scene, I’ve been fortunate to meet incredible people (women and men alike) who are helping to build an incredible place to live and work.
Being a successful woman in the tech arena requires agility and adaptability — and Atlanta is a fantastic place not only to start a company but also to be a female entrepreneur. With organizations like Women in Tech (WiT), Startup Sisters from WEI, digitalundivided, Ladypreneur EO, Launchpad2x, and countless more, women should feel empowered to be in ATL!
In the spirit of both #GirlPower and Southern hospitality on International Women’s Day, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some fierce and fabulous females who are crushing it in Atlanta’s technology community.
Here’s a glimpse of Atlanta’s Startup Wonder Women.
Afshan Ali is a healthcare innovator bringing her background in management consulting and healthcare to her role as co-founder and CEO of telehealth company — SkyTherapist. Ali serves on the executive team at Community Consulting Team, the Board of Directors of HealthMPowers and Emerge Scholarships, and a recipient of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Women Who Mean Business award.
“The landscape for women in tech is undergoing an undeniable and exciting shift,” says Ali. “We are linking arms to turn obstacles into opportunities, expand and mobilize our networks, and offer value by embracing our unique voices. The conversations which previously began with “if” now start with “how” and the challenges we encounter are preparing us for greater ones.”
Atlanta Tech Village Team: Karen, Kaitlyn, Karlee, Raleigh, and Kelly
Starting with the Atlanta Tech Village, one of the largest tech hubs in the U.S., director Karen Houghton and her team work 24/7 to create a positive, supportive, and collaborative community for ATV’s 1,000+ members.
“As a woman in tech, I believe we have a unique opportunity to bring a fresh perspective and balance to a male dominated industry. I am proud of our team, our work, and the thriving Atlanta community. We are all actively striving to be better together. I look forward to the day when one of the tech sector’s greatest strengths is our diversity,” says Karen.
Hey @davidcummings @d_lightburn thanks for buying this building 4yrs ago. So thankful to have helped build the @ATLTechVillage community! pic.twitter.com/EbMufjvv4j
— Karen Houghton (@kc_houghton) December 22, 2016
When it comes to unsung heroes in Atlanta’s startup scene, no woman deserves more praise than Brianna Smith. She has worked as Atlanta Ventures‘ Director of Human Resources for the past five years, playing an integral role in growing some of ATL’s most successful startups including SalesLoft and Terminus. Smith’s love for startups was the impetus for her own outsourced human resource startup, GratiForce.
“Atlanta is changing the climate of tech and challenging the idea of women in tech,” says Smith. “Cities like San Francisco and Denver are now competing with us for talent, and the icing on the cake for me is that women are leading many of these companies in positions as CEO, Director of Sales and Head of Engineering. More than 35 percent of my staff are women with most of them being in leadership roles and technical positions.”
As the Founder and CEO of Marketwake, a digital marketing agency, Brooke Beach has a passion for helping businesses and leaders grow. Previously, Beach put Kevy on the road to success and acquired $250K in revenue, breaking even in a little over a year. Brooke was recently named the 2017 winner of the Dean John E. Drewry Award — recognizing a UGA Grady grad with a successful early career.
“I have always felt supported by the Atlanta community, as an entrepreneur and as a woman,” says Beach. “Atlanta offers incredible opportunities and an even better support network, but you have to ask for help. You can try to go alone and people will not interfere, but the moment you ask for advice, help, support or insights, people will come out of the woodwork to lend a hand.”
The co-founder and CEO of beauty tech startup Techturized Inc., Candace Mitchell provides personalized hair care recommendations for every woman’s hair journey through consumer brand Myavana.
“It’s great to be a woman in tech in Atlanta because, well I’m biased since I’m a Georgia Tech alum (go Jackets!), but mainly because the city is so diverse across cultures, industries, and history. It makes it a beautiful place to thrive based on our unique interests, talents, and passions,” says Mitchell.
Gina Kawalek is a two-year Atlantan, but in that short time has already made waves at Salesforce, Insightpool, and now as Senior Marketing Manager at QASymphony.
“I love Atlanta. The city offers an incredible quality of life (at affordable prices), loads of sunshine, quaint neighborhoods, tons of art and an extremely welcoming community of people,” says Kawalek.
Jacey Lucus is an extreme extrovert (yes, we mean extreme) with a passion for community, marketing and helping people succeed. As Marketing Manager at Leadtime, Lucus infuses creativity and innovative ideas into the MarTech startup. Her spare time is spent creating unique volunteer experiences with nonprofits all over Atlanta through a company called Community Bucket.
“I’ve been fortunate to spend time in the tech space, and I’ve witnessed numerous other women come alongside me to blaze a path ahead,” says Lucus. “I don’t see that trend slowing down. These strong and powerful women are thought leaders and actually know their stuff. If they don’t know something, they hustle harder to find the answers. Now, more than ever before, we have access to robust resources and an opportunities to grow ourselves and invest in those younger mighty women coming up in tech. It’s an exciting time and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
Katharine Mobley is a mentor to so many young women in Atlanta’s startup scene.
“Seriously, what can stop us?! With our current Tech ecosystem, now it’s one of the greatest times to be a woman in tech in the South — specifically in Atlanta. Not only are we a melting pot of individuals and a thriving environment for entrepreneurs, we are witnessing support for women by women (and men) more than I’ve ever seen in my 20-year career in the South,” Mobley says.
Kyle Tibbs Jones
As one of the four founders of The Bitter Southerner, Kyle Tibbs Jones recently joined PeachDish as Marketing and Communications Director.
“Atlanta is amazing right now,” says Jones. “I still laugh that Bitter Southerner is considered tech, but being a woman in tech in Atlanta is exceptionally cool. The whole world is watching our startup scene. We’re Southern, removed from Silicon Valley, and as Southerners we will always feel like we have something to prove. Right now, we are proving it, and some of these badass women, are at the forefront of getting that message out there. I’m especially honored and proud to stand with these women.”
Stefanie Diaz is a marketing strategist, radio host, and brand expert with a talent for empowering entrepreneurs, particularly in her backyard of North Fulton. In 2015, she founded Mastermind Your Launch, which has expanded into a weekly radio show: Mastermind Your Launch on Business Radio X. She also holds leadership roles at 1 Million Cups Atlanta, Alpharetta Startup Connect, Tech400, and Envision Alpharetta.
“By giving experts a place to share their wisdom, and supporting newcomers with the tools they need to launch, I know I am helping create a robust community where Atlanta entrepreneurs can attract not only clients, but their dream team of partners, investors, and employees. That’s what lights me up most about the work I do,” says Diaz.
Stephanie Espy is a leading lady in STEM: she recently authored STEM Gems to offer tangible advice and guidance for young women to help launch their own successful STEM careers.
“I have felt the gender gap first hand; I have sat in classrooms and worked in industry where I can count on one hand the number of women in the room,” says Espy. “I have always been passionate about STEM – and I’m equally passionate about getting more girls and young women excited about STEM too. I wrote STEM Gems with a mission: to help girls and young women to see their future selves as scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, and to show them the many diverse options that exist in STEM.”
Speaking of Atlanta Ventures, SalesLoft would not be where it is today without the efforts of Director of Marketing Tami McQueen. She’s helped by other SalesLoft female leaders including Katie Rogers, Vice President of Customer Success, and Aly Merritt on the Product team.
“My social profile @LocalATLast reads that I have been in Atlanta long enough to be considered a local. Atlanta is a beacon not only for emerging technology and innovation but for inspired leaders and change agents that extends beyond the borders of 285. The authenticity of collaboration and willingness to fuel inspired minds is unlike any city; truly validating the adage that your network is your net worth,” says McQueen.
Closing thoughts from Brooke Beach, “While the road is not always easy, no one should feel limited in what they are capable of. Remember to fight hard and get others to rally around you. When you do this — it is remarkable what can be accomplished.”
Here are even more women trailblazing Atlanta’s startup scene.
Lauren Patrick is Storyteller at Terminus: Account-Based Marketing and Editor of Pretty Southern, an Atlanta lifestyle blog. Follow her on Twitter @Pretty_Southern & @Terminus.