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.
Today we speak with Megan Smyth CEO and cofounder of FitReserve, the company allowing you to mix-and-match workouts across studios and classes. After spending 7 years on Wall Street, entrepreneurship called Megan’s name. Through cofounding GoRecess and working with the Nike+ Accelerator, the company morphed into FitReserve. Megan, an avid runner and dedicated gym rat, is just as dedicated to NYC’s growing tech ecosystem and goes the distance to give back to the community supporting women and men alike.
What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?
After earning my MBA, I spent seven years working on Wall Street before leaving to pursue my passion for entrepreneurship and fitness. Currently, I am CEO and co-founder of FitReserve, a premium multi-studio fitness membership that allows you to mix and match workouts across a network of over 500 top studios and 70,000 monthly classes in New York City, Boston, and Washington, DC.
What are the advantages of being a woman in tech?
Women make up over 85% of all consumer purchases, so there is a huge addressable market for them to develop innovative solutions that improve the lives of others, while solving problems that are easily relatable.
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech?
Much more can be done to introduce entrepreneurship to women at a younger age, especially when they are graduating college. With less of an opportunity cost of leaving another job (particularly at senior-level roles), they may feel more encouraged to take the entrepreneurial leap. This can be achieved through increased exposure to tech accelerators and other startup resources to college students, in the same way they are exposed to more traditional corporate careers. Similarly, venture firms should increase their focus on recruiting women into junior-level positions. This talent-acquisition strategy will allow them to gain investing experience earlier in their careers, enabling them to grow into senior-management roles, thereby, expanding the pool of female investors and mentors.
What is diversity to you and do you see it evolving in tech?
Diversity can be defined in numerous ways besides gender — it’s diversity in age, experience, race, skills, and academic and professional background. This mentality allows for varied perspectives, resulting in better ideas, an ability to understand customers’ needs, and enhanced creativity. As co-working spaces and online tools play an increasing role in launching and growing businesses, they will foster increased collaboration across diverse populations.
Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?
Women in senior roles inspire younger women to take on similar leadership positions, leveling the playing field among top management.
How can women rise in the ecosystem and what are the unseen barriers?
According to the Ewing Marion Kauffmann Foundation, a foundation that fosters economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success, “Women are one-third as likely to access equity financing through angel investments or venture capital.” The greatest barrier is the absence of female investors, particularly in the highest positions at venture firms. Since investors often invest in what they know, it becomes even more challenging for female entrepreneurs to raise capital. However, if you take the time to expand your network, build relationships, and seek out mentors, you will discover that there are many women and men who are willing to help you navigate these waters, open doors, and advocate for your success.
Please tell us about a few organizations that you are involved with or respect that are promoting women in tech.
Several of our investors are from female-focused angel groups such as 37 Angels and Pipeline Angels, and they have been extremely supportive and helpful in making business and investor introductions. Additionally, I have been a mentor and speaker for Levo, a network for millennials in the workplace that is focused on fostering career development and networking.
What can men do to participate in this discussion?
Be more open to investing in ideas or businesses that may not impact their lives directly or resonate with them personally. While it may feel frustrating to sometimes hear an investor say, “Let me talk to my wife or girlfriend about this,” it actually shows they are making the effort to better understand the solution and opportunity. And, who knows, that wife or girlfriend behind the scenes may just turn into a strong advocate for your business.
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.