As a seed investor for the Accel Starter Program, Georgie Smallwood (CPO at Tier Mobility) is opening doors for women in tech by investing in female-led startups, including her Stealth Mode 2.0 mentee Leonie Ellerbrock .
Senior Program Manager Charlotte Hook sat down with both Georgie and Leonie to discuss their experiences during Stealth Mode and the power of network for women in tech.
GS: I’m Georgie, Chief Product Officer at Tier Mobility and Founder of Auxilia – a network for women entrepreneurs with the aim of increasing funding to women founders.
LE: I’m Leonie, co-founder of Menta, a digital mental health platform. I’m motivated to use innovation to have a positive impact on people’s lives. My co-founder and I founded Menta, because we want to democratize access to psychological methods and knowledge.
What motivated you to be part of the Stealth Mode program?
GS: I loved the concept of Stealth Mode and feel privileged to be a part of the last few cohorts. Mentoring Leonie was a highlight, as we shared a passion and drive to leverage technology to scale support and democratize access to mental health services.
LE: I applied because I wanted to contribute to the female startup ecosystem. I was very early on in my founder journey, so I was looking for learning opportunities, network and community with other female founders. I still connect regularly with some of the women from the cohort, and it really helps to talk to people that face the same challenges.
Leonie, how has having Georgie as a mentor during and after the Stealth Mode program pushed your founding journey even further?
LE: I was very grateful to have Georgie as a mentor. She is always supportive by sharing her knowledge, feedback and network as well. She shows me constantly that you can be an amazing, successful leader in tech while also being a kind and very interesting person. To me, she is a role model because of the way she teaches and leads people.
When I was starting my startup journey as a student 10 years ago, the Berlin tech scene was still pretty much a boys club. I needed more role models like her, so I’m happy for young women today that Georgie and other female leaders like her are becoming more visible.
Applications are now closed. Stay tuned for news and updates.
Georgie, over the past year, you joined the Accel Starter Program, which is a group of handpicked individuals who identify up-and-coming founders and are empowered to invest in them. What are you looking for in a startup in order to make an investment?
GS: When i look at investing in a company I look at 4 key elements:
Does the product do good?
Does it scale, and how?
How will it make money and is that a resilient model?
Why are the founding team the people that will make it successful?
When I joined Accel’s program, I was also in the middle of Stealth Mode with Leonie. Her startup Menta, for example, was a company where the product does good, and had a strong team.
Together, we worked closely on its scalability and its financial model and those efforts coupled with the commitment, passion and drive of these two amazing women make Menta a business I’m proud to invest in.
You recently founded Auxilia Global, a network for women to support founders, who are interested in Founding/co-founding, or want to join early-stage teams. What role do you think ‘network’ has in empowering a founder’s journey?
GS: Network has a huge impact.
The reality of funding, growth partnerships, and even building a great advisory board is that if you don’t know the people who can help, then you are 20 steps behind everyone else in an already insanely competitive space.
I founded Auxilia after years of frustration in VC-funded companies where those that have been successful are doing great things in passing that success on to the next generation of founders, but they are passing it to their existing network. In my experience, those networks have huge unconscious biases that have been built over generations.
With Auxilia, I hope to build a new network for women to connect with each other, for women in decision making positions to advise, support and perhaps even fund the next generation of women entrepreneurs.
What’s your vision for the future of the tech industry?
LE: I hope we have a future where people are becoming bold and work on real innovations, and use tech not only to make money, but really change the lives of people for the better.
Women are increasingly shaping this future and I would like investment numbers to reflect that. I hope we reach a future in which women are as common as tech leaders as are men.
GS: In the next 10 years, I see 2 big trends.
Firstly, a huge shift to digitising services that until now have been seen as offline (like medical access, fitness, and luxury e-commerce). COVID-19 has has changed people’s preconceptions that certain things must be done in-person.
Secondly, as sustainable solutions become more accessible and as our understanding and awareness about climate change increases, we will see the adoption of sustainable services increase.
Both of these trends have strong psychological changes associated with them and I see women leading many of the up-and-coming solutions.