Girls in Tech founder cautions against falling in love…with your business model
By Anushia Kandasivam September 21, 2016
- MA2016 kicks off with keynote by global entrepreneur
- Advice and tangible strategies for startups
ENTREPRENEURSHIP symposium MA2016 by the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) opened yesterday with a keynote address by entrepreneur Adriana Gascoigne (pic), who runs her own startup but is more famous for her role as the founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, a global non-profit focused on eradicating gender disparities in the startup and technology ecosystems.
In her opening keynote, Gascoigne gave the audience some background on where and how she started in the technology world before explaining how the idea for Girls in Tech came to her and sharing her tips and advice on creating and sustaining a successful business model.
Gascoigne’s passion for and belief in the power of startups is apparent, as is her enthusiasm for enabling other entrepreneurs to achieve success. To start her talk, she asked the audience to close its eyes and each person to ask themselves two questions: What do I want to learn from this conference and what kind of people do I want to meet? By way of reinforcement, everyone was then asked to turn to the person next to them, introduce themselves and share what they are passionate about.
Girls in Tech
Gascoigne’s start in the tech ecosystem was quite a normal one – she was an executive at various companies, focusing on marketing, branding and product strategies in a range of companies, from Intel to Indiegogo and Change.org.
“There was just one issue though. I was the only girl in the room.”
She realised that something had to be done to increase retention of female staff. This would entail changing the culture to one that was empowering and inviting for women, not just for the sake of change but to introduce diversity in product development and building a comprehensive range of products and technology.
Girls in Tech was thus born in 2007 and very soon Gascoigne discovered an international demand for the programme. There are now about 50,000 members in 60 locations worldwide.
Ideas vs business model
Gascoigne used herself as a case study plus several other companies to illustrate how each startup story is unique and how identifying a major problem and creating a specific solution to it, whether in coming up with a business model or improving an already existing one, is key to a startup’s success.
By way of sharing some video clips, Gascoigne put forward that a great business idea needs a great business model to succeed, and these are not the same thing. “Don’t fall in love with your first idea,” she cautioned. “To compete in a world where your best idea wins, you need to think harder and explore alternatives. Who knows, you might end up with a disruptive idea that changes an entire industry.”
Tools and iteration
Gascoigne listed a range of apps and tools that she finds useful for product development and proposed some strategies for creating a business model that works. One of the simplest is asking yourself basic but important questions, such as “Does my model have an edge today? What about tomorrow?”
She emphasised iteration as an important aspect of product development – designing, testing and learning from mistakes over and over again until you are satisfied with the product and the product is functional as evidenced by user activity. A fluid model is thus another key to success.
“Fail, learn and adjust. It is time to start thinking about business models in a new way. The time for fixed business models is over,” she declared.
She emphasised that though the journey to success will not be a walk in the park, all an entrepreneur needs is creativity, willingness to work and passion for the idea – plus a healthy dose of bravado.
“Be fearless – even if you have to fake it until you make it.”