Some of the world’s top female founders got together for Singapore Blockchain Day.

Women at the top of tech: female founders on entrepreneurialism and life at Singapore Blockchain Day

December 13, 2021
Hosted by TZ APAC's Katherine Ng at Singapore Blockchain Day 2021, top female startup leaders shared insights into what it means to be a woman in tech, what it's like to work with friends as co-founders, and how to create a company culture in the Zoom era.

According to Megan Li, founder and CEO of Regtank Technology, one of the most important aspects of finding the right co-founder is getting someone you know in real life. 

"This is very important," says Li, "because if it's someone you know in real life, you will have a better understanding of their character."

"Also, to find the right co-founder, you truly need to understand your objectives and goals. It's not only about business, but also about personal life goals."

Anna Sainsbury, the chairman and founder of location-based tech unicorn GeoComply, agrees. Sainsbury is in business with her husband, who she met through a previous role. She says they had an ongoing conversation during this period about regulating markets versus brands that regulated themselves.

"I think what's great about our relationship is that our skill sets are very different," she said. "He has a lot of skill sets I admire, and I think that's important in anyone you work with on your team, and probably the most important, as co-founder."

Creating cultural values

Sainsbury said when she started the company, she was unaware it was possible to hire an HR manager who would guide the company in terms of its culture. 

"When we got past the group of ten people, people who could sit around my dining table, we realized we had to work on replicating what was working for us," she says. "I received some great advice and read some great books which really pointed us in the right direction of needing to set out our mission, purpose, values, and voice."

Li said given her company is still very much in the startup phase, it hasn't yet defined its culture. "But it's still very typically a startup," she says. "We are working very flexibly and closely as a team."

Learning, she said, is critical to the company's nascent culture because the space it operates in is moving so fast. 

"Being in this phase is good because we are flexible and can make fast decisions; we can have the execution done quickly. So everything is about speed."

Given the breakneck speed startups move at, Li said her company is focused on more and better collaborations between the different teams and building staff skills. 

Hiring team members is also a skill learned over time, said Sainsbury, and the team members help make the culture. "We are constantly learning to communicate, how to ask better questions, and understanding what the cultural sensitivities are. What we are looking for is passion, hunger, drive, and humility."

"We are constantly analyzing ourselves as well as the questions we ask," she continues. "So that we can make sure that we get value out of interviews and find the right people."

The remote work challenge

With the Singapore Blockchain Day event taking place in the shadow of disruption caused by the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, somewhat inevitably, the conversation turned towards the challenges facing founders around having teams working together remotely. 

Sainsbury said her company encourages people to come into the office, visit customers, and travel to conferences. The company supports remote work, but maintaining a corporate culture in a predominantly virtual work environment is challenging. 

"Even as we continue to work from home, we need to improve the skill sets and the tools we use so it can replicate the creativity we get from face-to-face," said Sainsbury. "It's hard to replicate that from home."

Sainsbury's motivation as a founder comes from her love of helping. "It gets me up every day, watching the positive impact our product has on people's lives." 

Closing off the session, Li adds her motivation comes from really wanting to achieve something. "That and having an impact on our industry."

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