Helen Mitchell is a successful London FinTech entrepreneur and role model for women in tech – but she came close to leaving the sector altogether.

Mitchell’s company Blukudu creates commercial collaborations between established brands, venture capital investors and innovative tech companies. It was featured on our '101 FinTech Disrupters' list which was released on Monday.

The company has operated a profit every year since it was founded. Mitchell has been involved in bringing more than £220 million equity investment into the UK tech sector.

A candidate for our '101 Female Tech Entrepreneurs' list, she revealed to BusinessCloud the extent of the resistance she has met with in industry over the last six years.

→ NOMINATE NOW: 101 FEMALE TECH ENTREPRENEURS

“Women are being actively ignored and excluded,” she said. “As a woman in business it can be hugely demoralising. I often feel I am unseen and there have been times I have wanted to give up.

“Many participants across the ecosystem tend to ‘go with the status quo’, which contributes to the slow pace of change.”

Although the well-cited figure for women in tech is 17 per cent, Mitchell says that, worryingly, some stats indicate the sector is actually becoming less diverse.

“The reality is that women founders still struggle to raise investment,” she said. “Female-led businesses receive lower valuations, FinTech events have hundreds of speakers yet only a handful are women and a plethora of thought-leadership and whitepapers have no female representation.

“In UK venture capital, only 13 per cent of decision makers are women and a staggering 48 per cent of investment teams have no women at all.”

→ READ MORE: TECH SCENE NEEDS FEMALE CODER ON STRICTLY COME DANCING

It’s not all bad news: there has been an increase in momentum across the industry thanks to Gender Pay Gap reporting, new diversity initiatives and the FinTech Parity Pledge. Yet, despite these, change remains slow.

“My work with women in tech spurs me on and feeds my optimism for the future,” she said.

“As a corporate-start-up matchmaker I enjoy raising the profile of women-led businesses to the incumbent brands and governments I work with and always request a diversity component be included in each of Blukudu’s client research projects. 

“Ultimately, it’s about ensuring diversity of thought. I also believe it requires many more men to get involved and engage with the complex issues that perpetuate the lack of diversity in order to enable more women to enter and remain in the industry.

“The business, social and economic impact of greater diversity is undeniable – and where there’s a will, there’s always a way!”

Mitchell encourages women in the sector to apply for BusinessCloud’s upcoming list of '101 Female Tech Entrepreneurs', which builds on the success of previous research including ‘100 Female Role Models in Tech’ and ‘101 Female Founders in Tech’.

“Programmes that promote the often unseen female talent in our amazing tech sector are so important,” said Mitchell.

“Being visible helps women to gain profile and to be taken seriously which in turn helps to get that next promotion or investment round.

“Having a platform and facilitating this visibility is fundamental to getting women into the boardroom and shows the next generation of women that FinTech is an industry for people like them.”

Nominate the women who are paving the way for a brighter future in tech now! The closing date for entries is September 28th.

Criteria:

  • Tech is defined as a company using tech to disrupt a traditional industry or is creating / selling a technology-based product
  • To be considered the entrepreneur must be currently living in the UK
  • The judges are looking for supporting information, such as evidence of commercial success; growth; or global impact
  • The closing date for entries is September 28th, 2018

How to enter:

  • If you would like to nominate someone else please email  femaleentrepreneurs@businesscloud.co.uk with contact information for the nominee if possible
  • If you are a female entrepreneur wishing to nominate yourself simply complete the following questionnaire so we can find out a bit more about you and your business, making sure to include contact details
  • Please mark any confidential information as such