(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.)
Here is my interview with Teri Kirk, Founder and CEO of Funding Portal, a mobile FinTech service helping companies get private and government funding.
What makes you do what you do?
We are motivated at Fundingportal by helping companies find the funding they require to support their business growth objectives.
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I think the top three tips for rising within your industry are:
1. A compelling idea
2. Hard work
3. Visibility in your industry and community.
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)?
I felt Fundingportal was a good idea. The real test is whether investors agree with you. I went to investors with my business plan and they did agree and provided me with the funding I required to grow the company.
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
Yes, there are many I admire and look to for advice. Our first investor is a good example – he is himself an experienced business person and believed in me and my business plan. He continues to provide thought leadership and support as the company reaches each milestone.
How did you make a match if you did and how did you end up being mentored by him?
I made a match by following my own advice, which is being visible in your industry and community. This is how you meet the people who open doors for you and become your investors, mentors, clients, and champions.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
Big companies put enormous time and resources into that exercise. In ventures, you have to proceed more quickly and intuitively. I believe in giving people a platform to be the best they can be. Some seize it and run with it and others do not.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
A common mistake in making hiring decisions and building teams is hiring people like yourself. Strong teams are diverse teams — different ages, skills, backgrounds, and contributions. I very consciously seek out diversity.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
Go wide and go deep. On the horizontal axis, you need to be curious and informed about a lot of things — markets, people, financial statements, and your political and business environment. On the vertical axis, you need to be able to go deep into select verticals — how a product is performing, and why or why not.
Advice for others?
I would go back to the top three paths to success:
1. A compelling idea — bad ideas go nowhere.
2. Hard work — good ideas go nowhere without a lot of hard work.
3. Visibility in your industry and community — good ideas and hard work produce very little if they — and you as the product leader — are not out there and visible within your industry and target market.
Marion is a leadership and development coach, entrepreneur, writer, and angel investor. She has over 20 years of experience in coaching, teaching, mentoring, training, and investing. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University.http://marionneubronner.com/