Why Your Male-Dominated Tech Startup Isn’t Sustainable

Why Your Male Dominated Tech Startup Isn’t Sustainable (and How to Diversify)

(Image: iStock.com/BraunS)

When someone tells you they work for a tech startup, you probably picture boys’ club in Silicon Valley full of fast-talking, Aaron Sorkin-esque programming wizards with beer kegs and pool tables. Although that bro-tech stereotype still prevails, many tech companies try to diversify their staff. In the end, they know the male dominated culture is not sustainable.

When my co-founder and husband, Danny Boice, and I first created the idea of Trustify, a company offering private investigators on demand, we wanted to build something different. We set out to break the mold of the traditional tech startup mentality of hiring only coders, computer science majors, or those with extensive startup experience. Instead, we cast a wider net to find the best talent out there. Most importantly, applicants had to fit our culture. Through the process, we noticed we had selected candidates with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets–and most were female.

Trustify has been such a success thanks to the vast, diverse group of women that joined our team. In our quest to build something different, we broke the mold of the traditional startup company using non-traditional tactics that we believe will lead to more women in technology startups.

Here are the five rules we followed:

Build a Company Meant to Last

Many startups look for a quick exit. However, true disruption is building a startup meant to last. While it is important to think outside the box, doing this successfully begins with your hiring practices. We recognized early on that we needed to have our best talent grow with us as a company.

Most startups seek to hire only young, hungry, recent college graduates who are willing to pull 18-hour work days in an office. But what happens when they get married, have children, find a place in their community, and have obligations? They leave. In turn, startups have to start the process over of hiring more young, uncommitted individuals who burn out fast. These new hires have no institutional knowledge, as they were not a part of the original strategy sessions or tough first months in the trenches.

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Jennifer Mellon is the Co-Founder and President of Trustify, the world’s first technology platform to connect clients across the U.S. with a network of highly trained and qualified private investigators. Previously, Executive Director of Joint Council on International Children’s Services and Program Director at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Founder of Aqua Pure Technologies & Oh My Darling Designs. Graduate of Bucknell University. Lives in Washington, DC with her husband and Trustify Co-Founder and CEO, Danny Boice and their 5 children. 

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.