Are you a woman in NYC Tech and interested in participating in this series? Make sure to read the whole article…
Much has been said and written about the lack of women in the tech sector, be it as investors (or associates), founders, or in management positions at major companies. 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 women in tech 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 speak with entrepreneur Valeria Girimonte, founder of Risk Event-Driven and Distressed Intelligence (REDD). REDD is a leading provider of material intelligence on distressed and high yield event-driven special situations. Originally studying economics in Argentina, Valeria came to NYC to work in finance. After realizing the current model did not take into account emerging markets, she started REDD and has been going strong since 2013. Valeria is a passionate founder who attended Stanford Graduate School, in the Latino Entrepreneur Leaders Program.
What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?
I studied economics in Buenos Aires and always dreamed of working in Wall Street. When I moved to New York in 2005 I started my career in a financial media start-up after working for a financial media multinational back in Argentina.
My cofounder (who was my coworker at the time) and I realized that financial media companies continued to develop platforms for North America and European coverage and then poorly try to adapt those platforms for the Emerging Markets. We were keen to develop a suite of platforms only focused on properly covering these markets.
What are the advantages of being a woman in tech?
I don’t really see any advantages of being a woman in tech. However, after surviving and thriving in male dominated fields I strongly believe that this unbalance just makes you stronger and more determine to succeed. When I was studying pure Economics in Argentina back in the day I was one of three women in a class of 40 and when I worked in finance in New York the environment was and remains quite male centric. That being said, these experiences have made me stronger.
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in New York?
I believe that supporting efforts like Alicia Syrett’s #MentHERnyc initiative is important. I also believe we need more women investors at all stages (Angel / VC / PE).
What is diversity to you and do you see it evolving in tech?
Diversity for me is becoming gender blind, color blind and country of origin blind. Silicon Valley still feels very old school this way (much more than New York), just look at the waves that Susan Fowler’s complains on sexism at Uber have created. It is encouraging though to see how notable investors Mitch and Freada Kapor have reacted to it as well as Melinda Gates words and initiative. But it does feel like tech everywhere is broken when it comes to supporting women equal treatment.
My cofounder wrote an inspiring message for International Women Day, I certainly believe that the day that companies like REDD stop being the exception we will have reached our goal.
I also strongly believe in supporting efforts like Stanford University Latino Entrepreneur Leaders Initiative. I am graduate of their third Cohort that took place last fall and plan to remain heavily involved and hopefully become an investor in thriving Latino businesses.
Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?
Look at the picture below with the CEOs of the top 16 US unicorns. This is how innovation looks for America and the world now. We need to change this.
How do you see the future of teams and interactions in a diverse environment and what implications will this have?
I think the future is today at least for us. Our company is 60% women strong of all backgrounds and ages based everywhere in the world, we communicate constantly online, we see each other a few times a year for company events. I believe diversity (of gender, age, country of origin) make us stronger as a company.
How can women rise in the ecosystem and what are the unseen barriers?
We need more women investors and more investors in general supporting women led companies. It is unreal to still have to be fighting to be “taken seriously” in business as a woman in 2017.
Childbearing and rearing is still a barrier today. I have two kids under 4 and we were raising our seed round when my first one was 18 months. I remember having to explain to a potential investor in the valley that this was not my hobby, this was for real, my full-time job, not something that mommy does on the side while the baby naps. The US needs to get its act together in terms of maternity and paternity leave approach and stop stigmatizing women in this regard.
Please tell us about a few organizations that you are involved with or respect that are promoting women in tech.
Alicia Syrett’s #MentHERnyc initiative, Stanford University Latino Entrepreneur Leaders Initiative which is extremely gender balanced.
What can men do to participate in this discussion?
Realize that the struggling is real and help us fight it. Not feel threatened.
The team at AlleyWatch believes it’s important to have an inclusive discussion around the challenges facing women in tech along with highlighting the work of the female entrepreneurs that have made NYC one of the best places for women in tech according to some recent studies. That’s why we are running this series that showcases women in tech in New York.
If you are a female founder in NYC working in tech and interested in participating in the series please visit this link or click on the image above.
Please feel free to pass this on to any women in NYC that you feel should be considered for the series. Thank you.