Jessica Butcher, the brains behind British unicorn, Blippar, speaks with GrowthBusiness on being a business mentor to a cohort of strong Silicon Valley-bound entrepreneurs, all of whom are women
From its namesake roundabout in Old Street to New York’s tech alley, Silicon Valley has long been the motherland for fast-growth tech start-ups. Leading female entrepreneurs from the UK’s tech sector are the latest to be selected on an exclusive trade visit for the Mayor’s international business programme, SVC2UK.
15 female founders from some of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies are slated to visit the Bay area, as they look for opportunities to expand their business and secure extra funding from the US market.
Where are all the women in technology?
The issue of the lack of diversity in technology and finance has plagued the Valley as much as it has London’s own tech scene. According to Blippar co-founder, Jessica Butcher, the business journey for any founder can be an arduous and lonely one. Picked to join the delegation as a business mentor, Butcher spoke to GrowthBusiness on how the diversity-starved sector needs a strong network.
“I was thrilled to be involved in the last female mission to Silicon Valley- not only for the contacts and learnings made on the trip with State-side contacts- but for the connections and relationships built amongst the other British female delegates. This is a network I still rely on heavily for both practical advice and emotional support for what can be a stressful, lonely job, growing a fast growth scale up business,” she said.
Female founders are an important driver of growth for the UK economy. According to research recently released by Founders4Schools,women-led businesses make up 11 per cent of UK SMEs. The research also found that there are 762 companies in the UK, with a turnover up to £250 million, which are also led by women and growing at a median rate of 30 per cent a year.
The gender gap in venture capital
According to Alexsis de Raadt, founder of Merian ventures, a US-based venture capital firm focussed on funding women-led innovation, there is still a gender gap when it comes to businesses that successfully secure venture funding. “Women entrepreneurs are making progress in the competition for venture capital but still lag men by a significant margin,” she said, speaking ahead of her meeting with the female founders during the trade mission. “This mission is helping to close the gap by bringing fifteen world-class female founders together with the world’s leading sources of venture funding,” she added.
The four-day trade mission offers opportunities for founders to meet with senior representatives from Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, LinkedIn and Silicon Valley Bank, as well as Brits from the tech and business community who have successfully scaled their companies on the West Coast.
After last year’s trade mission, Blippar broke into the US market and has expanded since. “There is so much for British entrepreneurs to learn from the West Coast growth culture- both practical and psychological,” Butcher added.
Caroline Plumb, co-Founder, CEO of Freshminds will be joining Jessica Butcher as a high-profile business mentor on the trade mission.