Courtesy of Marie Forleo, I was studying the Blue Ocean Strategy this week, which is an approach to product/business distinction that “makes competition irrelevant.” I started drawing out my own business’s strategy canvas based on this approach, and it really brought a few ideas into stark relief, especially related to the differences between men and women in tech and the businesses they build.
You are here, so you know that I am a mobile app developer, and it might already be apparent to you that I do things differently than my industry at large. This is true to the point where I sometimes don’t relate to my industry or even consider myself a part of it. I hesitate to even call myself a “woman in tech” because that seems to imply that I’m a part of the Silicon Valley crowd, which, while I physically and technically (hah) might be, myself and my business are culturally not at all. That wasn’t a conscious decision; my natural expression in this space simply didn’t end up aligning with it.
If I can be completely candid for a moment, though speaking only for myself and not for women at large: There’s a lot of talk about how more women should get into the tech/start-up world and there’s the pervasive question of why more of us aren’t there. But the more I got to know the Silicon Valley culture myself, the more I began to see it as a boys club that I appreciate but that has a set a values I can’t relate to. The implication that I want to be a part of it, or that I feel excluded by it and especially that I can’t be in tech without it, is silly, I think.
It’s possible that I’m simply making a semantic point, that a lot of what “Silicon Valley” and “tech start-up” imply for me are not what I, and maybe other women, want to be a part of. Not because it’s bad or even not good, but just because it’s not aligned with who we are, how we do business, and what we’re aiming for. I love men, but I’m not one of them.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that women can do tech their own way, and if I can be a case in point, our version looks entirely different.
It was cool to map this out and see it visually.
In my case, my price point, software customization and emphasis on the latest UX awesomeness is low compared to the mobile dev industry at large. Everything I build is shareable and simple and community-driven and, as a result, financially accessible. Creating a product that is also technically accessible is at the core of my values, and empowering my clients to speak the lingo and take the reins on their apps is also a big part of my MO. My goal is to democratize this space and get more especially female voices and visions onto mobile, particularly the voices of those of us who the traditional, high-cost dev agency would eat alive (been there, they did try to eat me alive… alas).
The difference between what I do, how I do it and who I do it for couldn’t differ more from my male counterparts in mobile dev. As a result, I don’t feel any sense of competition with them, as I’m sure they feel no sense of competition with me. We both have distinct value to add.
And in a general sense, I want to point out that, Silicon Valley aside, female entrepreneurship is alive and thriving, financially and otherwise. We may not choose 28-year-old billionaires as our idols, covet millions in venture capital and aim for a swift exit, but our community is strong and growing at an accelerated pace. Some of us are in tech, many of us are in the healing arts, and a lot of us are re-defining traditional industries by making them in our own, feminine image. We’ve also created entirely new industries. Consider Marie Forleo herself, or Danielle LaPorte. Silicon Valley might doubt us, and does, but most of us don’t need Silicon Valley, and as far as I can see, the fact that we aren’t pounding down it’s doors is because we’re too busy architecting our own entrepreneurial ecosystem.
We require no pity or special treatment or token spots on tech panels.
In short, it’s a blue ocean indeed.
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