In honor of International Women’s Day and Investment Month at TechSPARK, we’ve put together a list of 8 amazing women – both founders and CEOs – who have successfully secured funding in the South West for their techie companies.
The data shows that women are less likely to raise investment than their male counterparts, so it’s more important than ever to shout about the women who have defied the odds stacked against them. We hope that their stories inspire you as much as they inspire us!
Samantha Seaton – Moneyhub Enterprise
Samantha joined Moneyhub Enterprise as CEO in 2016,, the fintech company that develops software designed to allow businesses to aggregate and analyse customers financial data as well as facilitate rapid on-site payments via an API.
She tells us, “It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to lead Moneyhub and to be at the forefront of the Open Finance and Open Banking revolution. Moneyhub continues to innovate and lead the pack when it comes to world firsts in technology developments and I am excited to see where we can go next. Our mission is to use technology to transform people’s relationship with money, whether that be direct to the consumer or through other businesses, with the end goal of making financial wellbeing accessible to all.
“Being a female CEO in the Fintech sector is very gratifying. I would urge young women looking to enter this sphere to focus on what they want to achieve and absolutely go for it. If you’re really passionate about it, you’re already in a great position. In addition, women wanting to succeed and thrive should get involved in mentoring. Mentoring is a great resource for when you need a bit of guidance or insight, and it is also hugely comforting to have someone to talk to who can relate to your particular circumstances. Having access to objective but knowledgeable advice is priceless. It can be invaluable for both sides and those trailblazers in the industry are more than willing to help those starting to navigate the Fintech world.
“At Moneyhub, we regularly discuss gender and potential inequalities in the workplace and we’ve been taking steps to make sure our environment is as accessible, open and flexible for all. For example, all our leave provisions at Moneyhub are gender neutral, to support families in their care decisions and particularly women who often have to shoulder the majority of care in these situations.”
Last month, Moneyhub was listed in our Top 12 Scale ups in the South West which gathers some of the companies in the region that have grown the most in recent years. At the end of 2020, Moneyhub also managed to secure £5.6m in funding from equity investors which, under Samantha’s lead, set the business up for an exciting and brilliant future.
Georgia Stewart – Tumelo
Having previously studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge and worked in Asset Management firms and environmental organisations, Georgia has proven her passion for sustainable investing and helping investors making an impact on climate change and other environmental challenges.
She co-founded Tumelo in 2018 where she currently serves as a Chief Executive Officer. Tumelo delivers a software that aims at helping investment firms improve their client engagement by showing retail and pension investors the companies they own and empowering them to ensure their funds are allocated responsibly. Earlier last year, Tumelo joined forces with Legal & General Investment Management in a partnership that will give the members of one of the largest funds managers in the world the chance to have a say in some of the social and environmental issues related to the companies they own.
In 2020, Tumelo received a £1m investment that raises the estimated value of the company to almost £10m. In March last year, Georgia joined Seeking Out’s series of entrepreneur-focused interviews in which they try to get to the bottom of what makes a startup CEO tick, learn more about Georgia and his time at Tumelo by listening to the podcast.
Stephanie Campbell – OKKO Health
Stephanie has a background as an optometrist with 10 years of experience in NHS in specialist eye care. Her PhD is in the early detection of eye disease. In 2018, she founded OKKO Health where she still serves as a CEO.
OKKO Health has developed smartphone software that accurately measures sight by combining strong vision science with deep clinical insight and with games technology. OKKO is building datasets to predict deterioration ahead of time. As a result, OKKO’s users will benefit from accurate and on-time treatment, reducing visits to hospital considerably.
It is no surprise that OKKO has gained attention from investors and leading pharmaceutical companies. In 2019, OKKO received a £225K investment from Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC), one of the most active investors in the South West, who followed on in OKKO’s Winter 2020 raise (£900k total). Furthermore, OKKO was selected as one of Bayer’s ‘G4A ophthalmology companies’ which also gave them access to further funding through an extensive loan.
Stephanie tells us, “I’m delighted to be closing a second funding round for OKKO Health. We’ve raised nearly £1m from incredible angel investors from across the UK and beyond, with expertise across health, data, finance and software product. COVID-19 has stimulated huge growth in the digital health market and I’m proud that OKKO will play a strong part in the now rapid re-development of the eye care system to meet the needs of patients now and in the years ahead.”
OKKO Health was featured as one of the main contributors to the success of SETsquared at raising 10% of total investment in the South West.
Konstantina Psoma – Kaedim
Co-founder and CEO of Kaedim, Konstantina studied Computer Science with Innovation at the University of Bristol. Despite having graduated less than a year ago, Konstantina’s venture have already caught the attention of investors and Kaedim has earned her a top prize in the University of Bristol’s New Enterprise Competition. Kaedim is a deep tech start up developing AI technology that aims at simplifying the process of creating high quality 3D assets for games, films and other productions. In December 2020 they successfully raised their substantial pre-seed round and are now ready to take on 2021.
She tells us, “While success is great and important, what is also important, but many people don’t hear about it, is that although 2020 ended with success, it was full of ups and downs and worrying.
“It is important to show that success (most of the time) does not come easily. From my own experience, women are underrepresented in the (deep) tech industry as founders but also as investors. During a 6 month fundraise process of continuous meetings with new angels and VCs I only met one female investor for both the gaming and deep tech industries.
“Being a female tech founder under 25 has definitely its challenges and I need to make a conscious effort to take bitter and nonsupporting comments with a pinch of salt. I want to see more young females stepping up, following their dreams, noticing opportunities and claiming them. And I want to help them do that.”
Dana Lattouf – Tickitto
Dana graduated from the University of Bath in Business Studies and gained some experience as a Business Analyst and as a Technology Consulting Analyst before founding Tickitto, which gained her a place at the Female Founders Cohort at Google for Startups Resident. Dana drew into her personal experience as a passionate traveller to come up with the business idea behind Tickitto.
Tickitto aims at helping travellers save time when booking tickets during their travels whilst also helping the leisure industry and travel companies to build external collaboration capabilities to scale their reach. Tickitto is a platform which aims to give travellers access to not only book flights, but also buy tickets to local events by offering configurable front-end interfaces.
Seedcamp was the leader of Tickitto’s pre-seed round that managed to secure them more than £500k. Tickitto intends to use the funds to scale up its engineering team. Having already partnered with some of the biggest names in the world of entertainment, tour, and activities it will be exciting to watch what’s to come for Dana and her team!
Sammy Payne – Open Bionics
Samantha studied Journalism and English literature prior to co-founding Open Bionics. With a strong background in journalism and digital marketing and even freelanced as a business reporter covering Bristol’s startup scene. In 2014, she co-founded Open Bionics and has ever since served as a Chief Operating Officer. Her leadership and determination has earned her several international awards, including being named in the Top 25 Women in Robotics you need to know by Robohub and a pitching competition she attended with co-founder and CEO Joel Gibbard in which they won second place and £180,000.
Open Bionics is an award-winning startup that aims at building and developing the next generation of bionic limbs that, in their own words, “turn disabilities into superpowers”. Their designs are not only innovative and aesthetic but also affordable. They developed the first ever 3D printed bionic arm that was officially medically approved. The 3D printing technology used by Open Bionics allowed them to sell the arm at one third of the cost of traditionally manufactured equivalents.
Besides several awards, Open Bionics has also gained several funding opportunities. In 2019 they closed a successful round that helped them gain £4.55m.
Mel Bound – This Mum Runs
Mel studied Sports, Recreation Studies and German at the University of Birmingham and then pursued a very diverse career in business, holding positions as Sales and Marketing Manager, Head of Events and Strategy Director.
In 2015, she founded This Mum Runs, which aims at helping Mums around the world to adapt a healthier lifestyle and build a community simultaneously. This Mum Runs offers award-winning coaching programmes and a fast-growing apparel brand that is revolutionizing the female fitness market. Mel’s successful ventures have helped her earn a significant amount of awards and recognitions, in 2018 she was one of the 100 global leaders that joined Facebook Community Leadership Fellow program.
The success of This Mum Runs has also come with interest from investors. In 2018 the Bristol Private Equity Club acquired a 12% stake for £156k. In late 2019, they secured almost £100k in fundraising in exchange for a 3% stake, which set the value of the company (at the time) of almost £3m.
Nicola Chilman – Doodle Learning
Before starting EZEducation, Nicola gained over 10 years of experience teaching and became a Director at an Education Center in Bath. In 2012 she co-founded EZ Education / DoodleLearning and held a Chief Operating Officer position.
Doodle Learning develops programs that are aimed at supporting learners aged 4-14 years from all round the world. Their programs are delivered via an app which uses an algorithm based technology that keeps learners engaged and, according to research conducted by Bath University, helps massively at preventing learning loss. The mobility of their programs have allowed EZ Education to deliver their programs in some of the poorest areas of Lagos, Nigeria, helping to raise standards in Maths teaching in the area.
EZ Education won the SPARKies 2019 “The Good Award” as well as a few pitching competitions, including a Runner-up position at KPMG Best British Mobile Startup 2016 at the Mobile World Congress. In 2019, the company was valued at over £6m after selling a 8% stake for £500k through an equity fundraising.
If you know of any female founders we have missed, or think your own business should’ve been in the list, please do get in touch.