If the tech industry wants to play a meaningful role in shaping society, then the people working in that industry need to be a representation of those in society. That means we need – for starters – a significant portion to be women. Strides are being made to create more diversity, but especially at C-level, it is slow progress. These women set an example and successfully take up leadership roles in the startup ecosystem.
Ingeborg van Harten – Chief People Officer at Payaut
‘A bit of magic’. That is what Ingeborg van Harten aims to infuse in startups and scaleups. She does so by making sure the people in the organisation are happy, engaged and motivated. Up until recently, she worked her magic as Head of People and Places at Mollie. For two years, she was responsible for making the fintech a popular place to work, contributing to its rise to become a unicorn.
That’s not where the journey ends for Van Harten. She founded her own HR consultancy and is currently responsible for creating a stellar team at another fintech. Amsterdam-based Payaut is rapidly growing, heading to Europe with their payment solution for online marketplaces and with Van Harten as Chief People Officer on board, it could become the next big thing.
Jantien Herfst – CTO at Superflow
Female leaders in tech are a minority. Female tech-leaders are even more so. Enter Jantien Herfst, who takes up the role of Chief Technology Officer at startup Superflow. After founding House of Einstein, a personal shopping service for clothing targeted at men, she decided to put that experience towards a more scalable solution. Superflow enables unique, one-of-a-kind shopping experiences at scale. Their technology allows retailers to offer personalised shopping experience to their customers, leading to a higher conversion rate, lower returns and increased loyalty.
As CTO, Herfst is responsible for the tech powering the B2B SaaS sales platform. As such, Herfst proves to be a trailblazer. Because as we said last year when we listed her: female CTOs is something we don’t see enough of yet.
Lethabo Motsoaledi – CTO at Voyc
Of course, that doesn’t mean female CTOs can’t be found anywhere else. Lethabo Motsoaledi is responsible for the technology powering Voyc. Their software monitors calls from customers to companies, to make sure every question or complaint is handled satisfactorily. Their AI is able to listen to the calls and flag anything of interest.
Originally founded in South Africa by Motsoaledi and Matthew Westaway, the startup moved to The Netherlands to target the European market. While on paper it’s headquartered in The Hague, they operate from Amsterdam to conquer the European market. After moving here, they quickly made their mark, not only by closing a deal with multiple corporates to use their software but also by winning Accenture’s innovation competition Blue Tulip Awards.
Nadia Udalova – Head of Product Design at Moonpig
After starting her career as a UX-designer and illustrator, Nadia Udalova found that she could use her creative energy for bigger things. So she started to re-design the way teams and businesses are built. After she worked her way up to UX team lead at Xebialabs, she took the role of Product Design Manager at software development behemoth Gitlab. Now, she’s shaping the design strategy at celebratory internet-based business Moonpig as a Head of Product Design.
Besides her day job, Udalova plays a central role in the design community in Amsterdam. She co-founded the Amsterdam chapter of Ladies that UX to empower women working in product design. She also takes the lead at the community events of UXDX in Amsterdam and heads the Amsterdam Chapter of DesignX Community, playing a central role in the Amsterdam world of product design.
Melanie Rieback – CEO at Radically Open Security
Stop looking for funding. That is the message Melanie Rieback shares with the startup world. Making an impact is what everyone should be looking for. Rieback is setting the example with her company Radically Open Security, where she is CEO. It’s the first non-profit cybersecurity consultancy in the world, donating a large chunk of its revenue to a good cause. Rieback sees more value in a startup ecosystem with a flat growth curve and local impact, rather than one inflated by investor money to make it looks successful for the inevitable IPO.
To further spread that thought, Rieback has founded Non-profit Ventures; an accelerator that wants to make bootstrapping sexy again and teaches startups across the world the value of making impact. This accelerator for Post-Growth Entrepreneurship is currently looking for new startups to join the cohort of Q1 2022, registration is open.
Nikky Hofland – Managing Director at TechmeUp
New technology shapes society. A society we all live in. So it is important that that the people making that new technology reflect that society. Currently, that is not the case. But Nikky Hofland is working on changing that. As Managing Director of TechMeUp, she aims to get more people from underrepresented groups into tech. TechMeUp does so by covering the costs of tech education in advance, only to be paid back once the student landed a job.
The interest-free loan that TechMeUp offers covers the cost of studying and – if necessary – living and offers the opportunity to give people a career in tech that would’ve otherwise never been available. Hofland can speak from experience there, as she has already been involved in product design of numerous startups including newsletter platform Revue, journalism disruptor Blendle as well as coaching at Rockstart.
Julia Mitereva – Co-founder and CMO at FashionPotluck
It can be hard for women to find a meaningful space in the online world. That is why Julia Mitereva founded Fashion Potluck. The female-focused platform encourages members to create, share and inspire each other. As the name suggests, fashion is a big part of it. With their Women’s Club, they also offer members to monetise their content, sell articles on the platform, use marketing tools to boost their content. A part of the membership fee of the women’s club is donated to NGOs supporting women.
Julia Mitereva is the CMO of this female-first social media platform and it is not her first role as a marketing leader. Previously she founded and marketed AI-startup LevelPlaneMedia, which offers advanced search tools of Instagram profiles, allowing both brands, marketing professionals and content creators to analyse their target audience. Her plans for Fashion Potluck are big, as the brand has announced they are raising millions to become the first NFT-driven social media platform that allows creators to effectively monetise their content.