Michelle Hua and Marija Butkovic, who founded Women of Wearables (WoW), a wearable tech company, have not had the most linear careers -- but their paths have aligned in the best of ways.
Both women are lawyers-turned-entrepreneurs and were working in the wearable tech company for a few years before joining forces. They founded WoW in 2016 with the goal of encouraging more women and diverse teams to participate in building hardware and software products as designers, product managers, and developers - or to be founders of their own companies.
“We found a lack of women and diverse teams in this industry, which is the very reason we co-founded Women of Wearables,” Hua and Butkovic explain. “Without female role models, it is difficult for women to be what they can’t see. We need more role models, which is exactly what WoW tries to do – give these amazing women visibility and recognition.”
During a recent chat, Hua and Butkovic shared with us the obstacles they’ve faced in reaching their mission, how their company has grown, and how they’re encouraging girls and young women to explore careers in STEM fields.
Fairygodboss: What's one of the biggest challenges WoW has faced in achieving its mission? How have you gone about overcoming this obstacle?
Michelle Hua and Marija Butkovic: First and foremost: there is a lack of female role models in the wearable tech industry. This gender imbalance makes it more difficult for women to enter and remain in the wearables industry because it is male-dominated.
Secondly, finding technical teams. Some female founders don’t have a technical background but they have a technical solution.
With wearables being a new industry, it is also challenging for female founders operating in this space to be supported if they aren’t based in a major city with physical access to support networks.
There has also been a surge of wearable products designed by men, for men. Wearable tech teams are very often run by men; they hire male designers and developers, and implement technology that is most appealing to men.
What this means is that ultimately you have products appealing to men, not women, and this way you’re not addressing huge chunk of your potential customers. Although the market has moved toward a feminization of wearables in the past couple of years, there is still very little out there that takes female physiology or traditionally feminized activity into account in a serious way.
Also, investors are men and they often don’t understand women’s mindset when it comes to building wearable products. Some of them even think those are “just” consumer products women are building as a hobby, rather than a proper business. Women make up 80% of the consumer market, so it makes sense for women to be designing products and services that they buy and use.
Read the whole interview on the Fairygodboss website.