(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Claudia is the CEO & Founder of EdSights. EdSights help universities retain their students by focusing on the non-cognitive struggles that students face. They use chatbots and predictive analytics to identify students who are likely to drop out of college and connect them to on-campus resources to help them stay in school.
What makes you do what you do?
The knowledge that higher education is an industry ripe for change and that a small improvement in the industry can have a huge positive impact on our society and on future generations.
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I built a mobile application for college classrooms my senior year at Georgetown University. The mobile application scaled to over 200 schools in less than 2 months -that’s what got me into EdTech. As I was working on the mobile application, I got the idea for my newest company – EdSights.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
Once I realized how big of a problem student retention is in the US, ignoring it and not attempting to solve it was not an option for me. While women in tech face a lot of challenges, I never let this get in my way. In fact, I actually think that this is a big motivation for me. The fact that young girls don’t have that many female role models in tech I think perpetuates gender inequality. I believe the only way to solve the problem is to go ahead and start a tech company and become an inspiration for future generations.
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
The Techstars accelerator network has been a huge support system for us. A big role model for me is Allison Salisbury who is the President of Entangled solutions – a Strategy and Innovation Consultancy for Education. She is a very smart woman with a wealth of knowledge in the industry.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I think the best way to hire talent is by looking at people you’ve worked with in the past or through word of mouth. I try to motivate and support our team by always reminding them of the huge impact and value of what we’re doing.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why? Unity in diversity is go very well with us.
We have a very diverse team and a meritocratic culture where the best ideas rise to the top, not the loudest voices. Having a diverse team is crucial if you want to serve a diverse population.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
I think as a leader it is important to motivate your team with a great vision for your company. I think it is also very important to create an environment in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinion and perspective.
Advice for others?
My advice for other startup founders is customers always come first. It is very easy as a founder to get distracted by fundraising, competition, etc. If you keep your focus on your customers and providing them with the most value possible, funding will be easy and competition won’t be a problem.
University administrators and investors interested in connecting can reach me directly at [email protected] If you’re simply interested in following our progress, feel free to add me on LinkedIn (Claudia Recchi) and follow us on Twitter: @EdSights_