Interview by Marija Butkovic (@MarijaButkovic)
Jenny Fielding is a Managing Director at Techstars where she invests in Internet of Things companies. Prior to joining Techstars, Jenny headed up Corporate Venture and Digital Innovation at BBC Worldwide where she made strategic investments and led business development deals. She has also started several tech companies, most notably Switch-Mobile, a mobile VoIP company that was acquired in 2009. Jenny began her career as a lawyer, spent time in banking at JP Morgan and is a graduate of Columbia University.
What does your current job role entail? What projects are you working on at the moment?
Finding the best entrepreneurs in the world to support and fund. Lots of travel and time spent helping the founders that we invest in. Right now, I am getting ready for our fourth IoT program in NYC.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
I’ve had several careers - as a lawyer, entrepreneur and investor. I love to learn and try new things. Curiosity and hard work got me where I am today!
What was the biggest obstacle?
I had no experience when I started my first company. I made every mistake in the book and had to learn the hard way. I didn’t have mentors back then so I lacked a support network. It was incredibly hard and lonely.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female entrepreneur?
Running a start up is crazy hard. Now multiple that times ten if you are building physical product. Female founders often have to pitch to investors who don’t always get their products or point of view. That can be challenging but there are ways to turn it around and make it a positive.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Working with talented and passionate founders is such a privilege. I feel lucky every day in my role at Techstars and as part of the tech community.
What will be the key trends in the IoT industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
It’s awesome working in an industry with so many unknowns but so much potential. I think the smart home will actually become smart, wearables will be as ubiquitous as mobile phones and industrial IoT will allow for transformational efficiencies.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Any way that we can get more women into tech is great. I think it’s the perfect place for women to thrive. And with so many unknowns, IoT is an especially good place. The fact that IoT is not an old school entrenched industry, levels the playing field for sure.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
Build what you are passionate about. Have conviction and never take no for an answer!
Who are your 3 inspirational women in IoT and wearable tech industries?
Ivy Ross - Vice President, Design and User Experience for Hardware Products at Google; Nora Levinson - President and CEO at Caeden, Madison Maxey - Founder of Loomia.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, co-founder of Women of Wearables and Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.