Much has been said and written about the lack of women in the tech sector. Is the problem the old boys network – or that success in technology is seen as a young man’s game? In this series, we speak with some of the top industry women in New York as they discuss the challenges they face, the perceptions that need to be changed and the work that’s being done – or not – to help to promote women in tech.
Today we hear from Nicole Glaros, Managing Director of Techstars New York. No stranger to the startup world, Glaros got her entrepreneurial start in the 4th grade, orchestrating cousins into theatrical plays and charging neighbors admission. From there, she founded three startups, the first of which had a healthy exit and the others which failed miserably. She has spent over a decade working with and funding early-stage web software companies. She has been with Techstars since it’s early days as a humble program in Boulder, Colorado, and has helped expand the brand and operations. In addition to running the Colorado office, she’s also been part of the launch in Texas, and heads operations in NYC.
What was/is the biggest challenge facing you as a female entrepreneur?
I’m not a female entrepreneur – but I think the biggest challenges include:
– being a mom and an entrepreneur simultaneously
– underestimating my own capabilities
– not being great at negotiations
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurship in New York?
The media should be shining huge spotlights on successful women entrepreneurs in NYC. Women need great role models. Also, for those successful women entrepreneurs, maybe set up a mentoring program where they take 1-2 other female entrepreneurs under their wing. Lastly, not doing too many ‘women only’ events. That just perpetuates the biases that do exist.
What is being done that you like presently?
I like that the media is getting more involved and shining more of a spotlight on the issue in general. I LOVE all the programs that exist for young girls – starting when we’re young is a great way to encourage the confidence required.
Are you involved in any organizations that help to promote female entrepreneurship?
I personally mentor three women entrepreneurs, am a member of NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology). I agree to almost any event for women entrepreneurs – although I try to highlight the bias that’s created by even calling them women entrepreneurs. You know what a women entrepreneur is called? An entrepreneur…. the less distinction we make, the less the biases (I believe).
Do you feel investors have a different mindset when it comes to investing in a woman-run company?
Yep, definitely comes up. But the more we show that women-run companies are more profitable and successful than their male counterparts, the less those biases will exist. AND, women should just avoid even dealing with investors who don’t get it…
Do you think that women in top roles at major tech companies are scrutinized more closely than their male counterparts?
I’m not sure. I’m a woman in a top role in an investment firm, and I don’t believe that I’m scrutinized more closely. But I’ve heard of many examples of women who are. So it’s not true in my life, but may be for others.
Where do you and your company fit into the ecosystem?
While my background is as an entrepreneur, I’ve spent the last 10 years working with entrepreneurs, as I run an accelerator (Techstars) and am an investor. Techstars is a mentorship-driven seed stage investment program. We run a three month long program in Austin (TX), Boston (MA), Boulder (CO), Cloud (San Antonio, TX), Chicago (IL), New York City (NY), Seattle (WA), and London (UK) once each year. Additionally, we run several powered by Techstars programs with some of the best brands in the world. We’re very selective – hundreds of companies apply and we only take about ten companies per city. These companies get $18,000 in seed funding and are offered a $100,000 convertible debt note by a group of prominent VCs immediately upon acceptance into Techstars. Techstars founders also get great perks, such as free hosting and services, a nice place to work, three months of intensive top-notch mentorship, and the chance to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program. There is immeasurable value in the mentorship-driven connections and advice that you’ll receive when you start your company with Techstars. When the program concludes, being an alum does not. The supportive network of Techstars alumni, mentors, and investors is unrivaled. Historically, Techstars companies go on to average more than $1.5M raised in outside capital after the program. Techstars was founded by David Cohen, Brad Feld, David Brown, and Jared Polis in 2006. It started and is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, which is Entrepreneurial By Nature.