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The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Jaime McNally, Director, Ventures, FrontFundr, an equity crowdfunding platform that provides retail investors the opportunity to invest in early-stage and growth companies.
Name: Jaime McNally
Job Title & Company: Director, Ventures, FrontFundr
Years in the Industry: 8 Years
The Quote That Most Inspires You: “Designing every customer interaction for magic and delight can motivate otherwise rational human beings to stand in line for days to be the first to own an iPhone. And that by obsessing over how people experience their first bite of a burger made from plants, Impossible Foods created a cult following among meat eaters. Beloved companies put customers at the centre of every decision they make. They recognize that no amount of advertising can make up for a disappointing first experience, a bad customer support call, or a data privacy breach. It requires an uncompromising commitment to doing things a certain way, the right way, so customers can actually feel how much you care.
In the context of all the work marketers lead on behalf of a business — product marketing, marketing communications, performance marketing, customer analytics, lifecycle communications and more — leading a company-wide focus on customer experience is where magic happens. The kind that breeds unbridled devotion.” – (Allison Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer at Enphase Energy in San Francisco, CA)
This quote is inspiring and addresses many industries, in particular the technology industry. Relentless customer focus is something that sets the top tech companies apart.
What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?
An entrepreneur’s drive for innovation in the face of risk has always inspired me to be involved with locally owned businesses. FrontFundr was a compelling start-up combining both technology and capital for entrepreneurs to fuel that innovation.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
According to Harvard Business Review, only 17% of senior FinTech roles are held by women. On top of that, my name Jaime being a common masculine name often leads people to anticipate a man when meeting me via Zoom, phone call, or in-person. This is not necessarily a roadblock, but a surprise that diverts some conversations.
What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
Whether it be a FemTech, sustainable apparel, or consumer packaged goods company, many of the companies FrontFundr works with offer products with women in mind.
Understanding the customer experience from the lens of a woman provides for a higher level of understanding of how the company is meeting unmet needs in the market and what the company can accomplish.
Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that females are the primary buyers of tech in the home. What do you feel the technology industry needs to attract more women, particularly into high-level positions?
According to Deloitte, a barrier that women in high-level tech face are limited opportunities and limited funding. However, there are opportunities and solutions developing within the market. According to CNBC, approximately 40% of current female investors started actively investing in either 2020 or 2021. This opens the door to crowdfunding as a solution to the funding gap even further.
In the past two years, we have seen women voting with their dollars increasingly more in the form of investment in tech companies. Empowering women to think big whether it be within their role in the tech industry or with their dollars, will drive tech innovation to the next level.
If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated technology industry in just a few words, what would you say?
Opportunity that endlessly motivates.
Are there women in the tech industry who inspire you?
Whenever I speak with women entrepreneurs and my colleagues, it’s like taking a shot of espresso. Tech entrepreneurs and the fellow females on the FrontFundr team come up with incredible ideas, and seamlessly execute on ideas in a stealth manner. It is a constant reminder to come to the table with solutions rather than get caught up in hurdles.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?
You can thrive in the tech space by embracing your experience and expertise, even if it’s not tech specific. Whitney Wolfe Herd [founder of Bumble], a marketer by trade, is a top tech entrepreneur who redefined dating with a solution for women. She founded a tech company by embracing her talents in brand creation to disrupt an industry.
What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?
There still appears to be a funding gap for female tech entrepreneurs. According to Crunchbase approximately 2% of venture funding went to female founders in 2021. These entrepreneurs need growth capital to expand their marketing, grow their team, and reach new markets. Many of these entrepreneurs are also opting for bootstrapping their growth rather than signing term sheets to avoid high cost of capital. Additional unambiguous funding options is a solution that could amplify the tech industry.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
I have seen tremendous growth and opportunity in the industry throughout my career and do not see that slowing down.