Why we need females in Tech
By Lea Steuri
The tech industry is still dominated by men. In this industry, Denise DiSano has excelled and proven to be a successful entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of Marked Private. Denise started her career as a public school teacher, but soon discovered her passion for technology. Only a few years later, she decided to found her own company Marked Private, which quickly became a successful New York-based tech firm. Her company’s product enCappture enable companies, brands, and organisations of any type to set up branded mobile apps quickly and cost-effectively. Over all, Denise has shown that in the tech industry, it’s not just jobs for boys, but women can be successful too.
You started your career as a public school teacher. What motivated you to change career paths, hence sparking your interest in the tech industry?
The road to changing my career path wasn’t a straight line for me. I would have never anticipated that a career in technology would be my “second act”. Thinking back now, I was always curious about technology, even while I was working in the public school system. I explored and learned about new software that would compliment and enhance the curriculum. I felt so strongly that students would benefit from access to technology, I applied for and received numerous grants, which I used to bring technology into the classroom. Those efforts led to the development of the first school-wide technology curriculum.
While on hiatus from teaching to care for my three young children, I began exploring
technology even further and eventually formed Marked Private; a company that creates innovative and accessible technology to engage communities. Marked Private’s first software platform was a hybrid of a physical product and accompanying online platform called Invite Bandz, which launched in 2012.
Once you changed your career path and started multiple businesses, what were some of the obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
I faced so many challenges when I pivoted. Many were universal to becoming an entrepreneur for the first time, learning curve, long hours, wearing many hats, fundraising. I was completely out of my comfort zone in the business world and had to figure out the ins and outs of starting a company from scratch. I also found myself trying to find a balance between home and work because my family came to rely on me for everything after being a stay-at-home mom for so many years. I learned to focus on one day at a time, creating lists and prioritising, and what I couldn’t get done in 10-12 hours
would get done the next day. Also, I’d keep myself healthy by getting my 8 hours of sleep, eating properly and working out regularly. I know that may sound simplistic, but I think adhering to a schedule and good habits was and is essential, especially being a mom of teenagers.
Obviously, raising money is always a challenge. You need funds to hire the right people so
that you can get clients and generate income to fund R&D and sales. I self-funded along with some family and friends and now we are planning a Series A round to fund our growth. In addition, we are steadily growing and hope to be profitable by the end of the year.
Finally, I found creative ways to grow the business and add clients to my portfolio when we
first launched. I found bartering really worked well. I tapped into my personal and professional networks to ask for and offer help and services. My first coder was a nephew. He got valuable business experience, and I got coding support. I gave an app to a singer-songwriter in my husband’s office to use to book gigs and share her music and in return, she has opened her network and has set up many fruitful meetings with big names in the industry. I gave many apps for free to friends with businesses to beta test the platform before releasing it. To this day, I still find bartering invaluable. My amazing PR agent helps my firm get exposure and she uses our platform for her events, to distribute press releases and conduct interviews and surveys.
The tech industry is still dominated by men. Why do you think that is the case and what can we do to change this?
Million-dollar question. People need to be evaluated on their merits: expertise, perspective and work ethic. I think women are just as able, but honestly, because we multitask and always have, I think we might actually be better in many tech-related fields because the business requires us to process several things at once, choose the best approach, and implement data quickly. We’re also generally more inclusive by nature so we need to continue encouraging women to think about a career in tech to pursue it and, once in the field, to support each other and network together. On that point, what Global Tech Women is doing is a phenomenal job.
Additionally, we should all support female-focused business incubators, encourage STEM
education for women, help fund tech scholarships, and make sure the recruiting industry does its part.
For you personally, how has it felt to be a woman working in the tech industry?
I am surrounded by women! Not sure if that was an accident! We have a nice balance, but primarily females have major roles, like lead developer, sales and marketing leads, customer service, you name it! So, for that reason alone, I don’t feel isolated in this business. I may be the exception, but honestly, I know how hard we work and the results we’ve achieved. I’m not sure it would be any different if I were a man. My customers expect a solid product backed by consistent and high-quality service. If there’s an issue, I trust and hope they would treat me just as I treat them, regardless of gender. Maybe that’s wishful thinking but, so far, it’s been my experience.
Also looking at the future, why is it important to have women in the tech industry?
I was an adviser and evaluator of technology and key in mentoring young female students in the school’ district’s STEM program. There will be an ongoing and growing need for all kinds of workers in this industry so the numbers alone dictate that we need women to enter these professions to serve the needs of an ever-expanding population. And, let’s face it: technology provides solutions and women are teachers, problem solvers, and multi-taskers… All very important qualities to have in the tech industry, wouldn’t you say?