Denver Startup Week Event Highlights How Women Can Disrupt the Male-Dominated Tech Industry

Visual Farms and AppIt Ventures CEOs spell out key ingredients for attracting investors

DENVER, Sept. 19, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A crowd of more than 200 members of the Mile High City’s startup scene and entrepreneurial ecosystem convened Tuesday in Slack’s downtown offices to celebrate women in technology at Denver Startup Week's Denver Women in Tech: Disrupting a Male-Dominated Industry event. 

Convening six of Denver’s leading women in tech, the session touched on each speaker’s experience as a woman in the tech industry — some founders, some employees — outlining the roadblocks as well as the growing opportunities for women to thrive in this critical, multibillion-dollar industry.  

While some of the conversation centered around the inevitable challenges and misconceptions women face when attempting to enter the male-centric technology space, much of the discussion focused on how women can ultimately disrupt both the Denver and national tech scene — by focusing on ROI, which includes the strength of a solid team.

“The technology space can be a difficult world to work in when you begin trying to raise money,” said Margaret Maizel, CEO and founder of Visual Farms, during the panel discussion. “In the investment world, it seems projection is continually asked of us, but as scientists involved in a tech business, we are so steeped in absolutes. As such, projection is hard. But we have to find a way to articulate our value, we have to find a way to make it clear what the return on investment is.” 

Maizel speaks from a background spanning time as a molecular scientist, rancher and now as an ag-tech CEO.

“In the area of medical research, the playing field was level,” she said. “In the world of business financing, you have to speak into the hearts of the investors — help them understand how investing in your product and team helps them.”

Amanda Moriuchi, CEO of AppIt Ventures, echoed that sentiment: “There are investors in the community, and what matters to investors is ROI. Focus on the fact that there’s money. What is in it for the investor?”

Even though they make up more than half of the U.S. workforce, women make up less than 20% of U.S. tech jobs. But as the tech industry moves increasingly closer to gender parity and equity, the women on the panel said they were all trying to find their own ways of making the ecosystem better.

Moriuchi noted how she’s made her hiring process more transparent, standardizing pay based on roles in an attempt to eliminate any pay gaps. In a bit of a serendipitous moment, Moriuchi gave a shout out to the company she used for help in the hiring process, and one the company’s founder happened to be in attendance.

“Building a solid team is the most important thing a founder can do to increase their chance of success,” said Charles Causey, founder and CEO of Matchstik, a Colorado-based company that skips resumes to match companies and candidates based on the candidate's natural strengths and skills.

“Companies should hire women for the same reason they hire anyone — because they are the most qualified applicant,” said Causey. “The solution is usually to do a better job of sourcing more women in the top of the recruiting funnel, and then ensure a fair interviewing process.”

Moderated by Crisanta Duran, director of corporate initiatives at National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), the panel also included:

    • Hannah Bottalla, senior software engineer, Slack
    • Lisa Gumerman, CEO of
    • Jennifer Henderson, Founder and CEO of TiLT
    • Amy Sigrest, COO at MAPRagency



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