We wanted to use the March edition of our monthly video podcast to put focus on the brilliant women founders in our startup ecosystem. Luckily we have many to choose from in Barcelona, so we invited business angel and co-founder and CEO of B-Wom Helena Torras, co-founder of Geenapp Gina Tostand CEO and co-founder of Eelp! Nina Alastruey to discuss the status for women in tech in 2017, with a special focus on Spain and Barcelona.

Helena Torras is the co-founder and CEO of B-Wom as well as being an experienced business angel and director of Fund Of Funds.

Being a women is an advantage

Torras explains that being an entrepreneur, and being a woman in startups has changed a lot the last ten years. However, a decade ago, she always felt that being a woman was an advantage:

I was the only one, so when I went an event or a meeting, people remembered me. Ten years ago, all investors and entrepreneurs were men, that has changed with time, but I always saw being a women as an advantage.

Alastruey has a different approach that what it means being a woman in tech in 2017:

I think it’s super tough and very difficult. I remember being in an investor meeting with my previous startup in Silicon Valley, and one of the investors asked me what I did at the company. I said I was the CEO, and he was super surprised, he thought I worked with marketing, that’s the general conception.

Tost which founded Geenapp four years ago, said it wasn’t easy becoming an entrepreneurs, but that other women in the startup community, made it much easier:

Compared to Helena and Nina I don’t have that much experience, but when I started out it was easier because I had a network of great women entrepreneurs from Barcelona around me, and that empowered me to work even harder.

The power of diverse teams

All three entrepreneurs believe the startup ecosystem is the perfect place for women interesting in tech to start their career.

Alastruey puts it like this:

Women are incredible as they’re able to multi-task in a different way than men are capable of. For a startup that needs everyone to take responsibility, this is a skill that is in demand.

Tost, founded Geenapp together with Javier Casares and Jaime Ferre:

I have a very diverse team, and from the beginning I was always the multitasker, doing everything, and I think that’s why my more experienced team-members liked me. We started working together almost five years ago, and we’ve know raised a kid that’s kind of big.

Gina Tost co-founded Geenapp with her founders almost five years ago. The company links app creators and users is one of the Spain’s most successful SaaS startups.

Torras has invested in many different types of teams, but she says one thing is clear:

It’s not about having only women or having only men, all studies show that diverse teams perform better than non-diverse startups. It’s all about finding the right balance of talent, and I think a diverse team is the best way to go.

CEO and co-founder of Eelp!, Nina Alastruey think it’s extremely tough to be a women entrepreneur in 2017.

Need to prioritize networking

Even though Torras has never seen being a women as a negative thing in the startup community, she does have some advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs:

Some founders think it’s enough to do well during working hours, but I think you need to go out and network and meet people. It’s a key to building trust with investors and other entrepreneurs.

Alastruey says there’s still challenges also in these areas, and that women founders often are kept out of the networking circle because a lot of it happens in an environment mostly reserved for men:

You rarely see investors who are men inviting a women founder to play golf, and it’s not as normal to go out with your investors and have a beer if you’re a woman as if you’re a man.

Torras disagrees:

I do all the same things as any other man would do, investor or entrepreneur.

Support each other

Tost doesn’t think there’s a clear path to making the startup ecosystem more diverse:

There’s no list of things we should get done to become a more diverse tech hub, it boils down to supporting each other as women in tech and working really hard for what you want to achieve.

Also Torras thinks supporting each other’s progress is more important than anything else:

I always believed in seeing opportunities, before challenges. I like to stay positive and focus on the positive things that are happening in the space of women in tech in Spain.

She continues:

If you are involved in the startup ecosystem, and you show ambition and the right vision, I think being a women is more and more becoming an advantage.

Torras explains that there’s big things going on, and that she can’t reveal exactly what yet, but that it will benefit women in tech in Barcelona and Spain is for sure.

To get the full discussion, take a look at the video in the top.

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O.

On sales leadership

These are some values that I learned that define a leader:

– A leader is somebody who reaches their goals and achieves beyond their individual abilities aligned with their own values and the organization’s values. A leader without a team is not a leader. A leader works for the team, not the other way around.

– Humbleness. Leaders must get to know themselves first, acknowledge their limitations. Acknowledge they have no recipe for success (no one does). They will succeed only by being curious and trying things faster, testing, changing things again, failing again, learning as fast as possible. In sales, everybody notices when things work well, success is measured in € vs budget. A leader must embrace results with no buts and take action to reach the goals.

– A leader works harder, a leader cares about the goals more than anybody else, they took full ownership of the goals. A leader does about anything to remove bottlenecks away on his team, they assist, train, support everybody, anything it takes. They are always the best resource for their team.

– A leader will always be available for everybody in their team, for personal and professional issues. They go the extra mile. They make sure everybody knows that. They earn the team’s trust.

– A leader makes everyone aware that teamwork is not negotiable. Without a cooperative team, there’s no leader. Lone wolves kill the growing/changing organization. Growth happens only WITH the team, not at their expense.

– Leaders communicate all the time, they don’t keep things to themselves, they are honest with their team. They share good and bad. They share the why’s. They trust their team. Trust precedes process and it is the only path to grow at a scale.

– Leaders learn fast and learn mostly from their team. The team has the most valuable knowledge a leader can get, it doesn’t come from books, blog posts, degrees or mentors. The team gets the real shit from the front line. A leader listens to their teams’ impressions and ideas, they explore them all and give feedback. Leaders generate a culture of idea generation and idea sharing. Leaders stay away from guru preaching.

– It’s important to understand people’s personal and professional ultimate goals and motivations. Leaders spend time asking them on their one on ones and they think about them. They write them down. Everybody is playing the movie of their lives, a leader must find out which one is it, they make sure each team member keeps being the hero of their movie.

– Leaders always lead by example, not by title. They show real bravery. Leaders go first to battle. They call leads and close customers. They apologize to customers when the company screws up. They take the shit first. They don’t leave anyone behind. They don’t show their rank, their status, their difference, their pedigree. Startups are flat meritocratic organizations. Leaders must understand well the company goals and they put them first, they are prepared to step down, or step aside, or leave the company at any moment if needed. Company goals are what matters most. Leaders show this to everyone. Company/collective oriented leaders always thrive.

– Leaders celebrate every victory. They visibly show the pain of every defeat. They take every opportunity to show they care. They analyze why/what/how and find out always changes to be made. Then they go and make the changes. They change anything or everything, but never keep on doing what doesn’t work. They shake the whole company inside out before/when goals are not met.

– Leaders set goals that are both ambitious and achievable. They work along the team to make sure they meet the goals. They are flexible when the goals are set wrong. They are implacable when goals are not met.

Most people will never be a leader. It takes time and patience, it takes survival skills, it takes real personal strength. But after committing to all these things, things start to work. Leaders are such when and only when they brought teams to make things work, nobody becomes a leader just by trying it. True leaders make sure they don’t leave the boat until things work (as they will work, ultimately!). They don’t leave the job undone.

– Bernat Farrero CEO at Itnig