The Triple F: Fierce Female Founders

We meet with quite a lot of companies these days, and our clients often ask us to tell them about ourselves, why we started Joonko and how they can avoid gender bias in their workplace ( “Use Joonko!” is our number 1 answer, we’re trying to sell them our product after all).

For a change, we’ve decided to switch sides and be the ones asking all of the questions around here! We’ve contacted women who started their own companies and asked them to answer those questions and help inspire others. We’ve gotten dozens of responses and we want to thank all of those who answered but unfortunately we can’t publish all your great stories and insights…

So give it up for Katelyn Gleason (Founder & CEO of Eligible), Kiki Schirr (Co-founder & CMO of Fittr), Rania Hoteit (Co-Founder & CEO of ID4A Technologies), Dannie Hetz (Founder & CEO of Topro), Darcey Croft (Founder of BareNaturals), Jacqueline Ros (Founder & CEO of Revolar) and Patrycja Slawuta (Founder of SelfHackathon)

Hi All, let’s start by each one telling the rest of us a bit about herself…

Katelyn: “YC founder, 1st employee at Drchrono (worked on sales and product), Now CEO / Founder of Eligible inc “

Kiki: “I first got into the startup scene by working for the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council. After that, I helped found Fittr, an iOS fitness app, and became their CMO.”

Rania: “I am the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ID4A Technologies. I hold an extensive experience in the field of Industrial product development, User Experience and Design Strategy, Production Design, and Architectural Systems and Technology.”

Dannie: “Product manager at FanGager, Founder/CEO at SPOT & TOPRO”

Darcey: “Founder of Magic Bean coffee shop chain, Founder of a building & plumbing company. Property developer. Currently bootstrapping Barenaturals by working in obstetrics as a labour & delivery Midwife.”

Patrycja: “10+ years in academia doing research in experimental social psychology. I left academia frustrated that the knowledge doesn’t trickle down to the people who need it the most — smart and ambitious high performers. SelfHackathons grew from me + my scientific friends giving fire chat talks on the topics that interest people: dealing with shame, guilt, fear etc.”

Jacqueline: “After working with Teach for America and bootstrapping, I left my teaching position and came to the technology sphere to solve a real-life problem. Revolar’s mission to change the way we keep ourselves and those we love safe.”

Why did you start your company?

Katelyn: “It was 2011 and I was inspired by infrastructure companies like Stripe and Twilio who were making a once archaic and closed off system accessible and ubiquitous. “

Kiki: “At the time, it was impossible to get a good, dynamic, challenging workout from your phone. Now, I’m proud to say that although we’re not alone, our workouts are the best. ;)”

Rania: “I started ID4A because I have a deep understanding of the creative consumer needs and design-to-production workflows which is essential to developing tools and applications that designers and businesses can embrace and value. Therefore, the company focuses its creative energies on solving problems located at the intersection where industry and design meet with technology on the base of developing and producing novel software applications to address these particular needs.”

Dannie: “To solve the invisibility challenge of brave independent professionals and clients”

Darcey: “I couldn’t find what I was looking for and to fill the gap between what I had discovered during my research at university and what I wanted to buy, decided to make products with minimal impact on health and the environment.”

Patrycja: “The bridge the gap between science and real-life application. Especially as it pertains to confidence and the psychological roots of it (self-esteem, self-worth and self-awareness). Everybody talks about confidence-gender but very few people understand the complex psychological underpinnings that make it. That’s’ why we bring science back to people. Making it sexy and relevant again.”

Jacqueline: “I started Revolar because people hurt my sister and I wanted to make sure that never happened to anyone else again.”

Please share with us one best practice that CEOs can implement in order to avoid gender bias at their workplace…

Kiki: “When hiring, watch your language carefully — remember to avoid using masculine pronouns. But that’s only the beginning: studies have shown that while women will only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the qualifications, the number for men is more around 40%, so with that in mind, consider strongly whether every requirement is really “required” — or only just “suggested.” You might be turning away female applicants accidentally!”

Katelyn: “Focus on the positives. There’s a ying and yang to everything. Sure, it may be harder to be a woman in business but it can also serve as a major differentiator and secret weapon.”

Rania: “Knowledge, education and communication- actively change people’s minds by educating them about the issue of gender bias. CEOs need to teach their staff, male and female, about the different behaviors men and women exhibit and how to effectively and accurately perceive them. Women present themselves differently than men. They don’t exhibit the same forcefulness as men do to oversell their skills. However, when they do boast about their skills, they are contradictorily stereotyped and perceived negatively instead of as confident and ambitious. Once these perceptions get changed, then the response to it changes leading to making better decisions and judgments that is non-gender biased. This is particularly crucial in the hiring process as it sets the tone for how a company’s culture gets formulated and it starts as early as hiring the first employee.”

Dannie: “Ask yourselves if you speak the same way to women and men in your company.”

Darcey: “Clear vision and sense of purpose to advance the collective good. This allows them to look beyond the status quo of the ‘way it has always been done’. It gives them a compelling reason to appoint best fit for purpose despite personal bias and or possible insecurities regarding gender. i.e. the best person for the advancement of the vision gets the role regardless of gender.”

Patrycja: “Create a psychologically safe space for people to come up with ideas, present and execute on them. A Harvard definition of this concept = ‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up’.”

Jacqueline: “Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

We want to thanks those amazing female founders. So far with our questions, now it’s time to go back and answer yours — If you are a CEO, COO or HR manager who also wants to ask us how to avoid gender bias in your workplace — use Joonko! Leave us you info on our website or drop us a line at