Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Primarily, Heidi Angove is a geek. Out and proud! Over the years this has meant she’s been lucky enough to work in a couple of very different worlds. Telecommunications and IT, and the Arts and Technology sector.
Telco and IT wise, she’s done everything from managing a variety of UNIX Systems, managing a number of large scale physical sites through managing Internode’s Corporate Support team, Typed ‘show int’ on way too many Cisco devices and even written a bit of code here and there. Mainly, writing code in PHP, perl and Python, as well as hacking hardware makes her happy.
She presently holds a wonderfully diverse position as the Operations Manager for Base64, Tech Evangelist Simon Hackett’s post Internode adventure. A day in her working life might see her working on Large Scale Batteries to see the Base64 co-working space site go off grid, working with the residents, hosting technology based workshops and meetings, assisting in IT strategies for a variety of businesses Simon has an investment in and getting a little too grumpy at the state of the coffee machine.
She’s also embarked upon a social enterprise startup called “Women of Steele”. The women of Steele deliver hardware tech gadgets and tools and will deliver bespoke software to keep women Safe, Charged and connected. Go check the range out and hear more about the caper here.
Arts Wise she’s served as the General Manager of ANAT (Australian Network for Art and Technology), been a member of a number of Boards, made portable ‘backpack’ internet radio stations, interactive audience controllers for theatre, rebuilt old rotary phones and connected them to the internet to make audio storytelling projects and a bunch more tech based stuff. She loves art, food, books and doing geeky things with any or all of the aforementioned.
Heidi, welcome to our team! Tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and how you became interested in the world of technology and wearable technology. And how did you find out about Women of Wearables in the first place?
I’ve been searching for you for a long time! In my online research for other explorers in wearables and fem tech innovation I came across this splendid community. Being one of the few women in tech here in Australia with an active industry contribution for over 20 years, finding like minds across continents has been a great joy.
You are an entrepreneur yourself. What is the idea behind your projects and business?
I want to live in a world where people of all shapes, sizes and genders can find technology that adds to their life, not takes from it. A world where you can choose to wear technology that fits into your lifestyle. I want you to be out at a restaurant and feel the smartwatch on your wrist or the power bank that forms a part of your tech kit is a part of who you are - not just an ugly set of heavy tools you need to take with you wherever you go. I want your devices to give you meaningful information about your body. I want to build software that keeps women safe. This means I have started a company that will deliver hardware and software to do just that!
This hardware and software needs to be:
Ethically sourced and enables women to feel safe, charged and connected within their own style. These tech tools are specifically designed to fit in with your life and not make you fit with the way you step through life. You should not have to adapt to technology. Technology should adapt and fit you.
Easy to use! I’m lazy and don’t like tech support! I want tools that are easy to use in your life.
When did all start and do you have other members in your team?
I started my journey in November of 2018, having been to Shenzhen China (Geek Disneyland). There, I had a mission to discover and test products that looked good on thinner wrists, hips with curves, designed and delivered to women.
I do have a number of members to the team! I have an Adelaide based Graphic designer, Sydney based finance support, Mentoring and funding in Adelaide as well as software and hardware development here in wonderful Adelaide.
What are the projects you're working on at the moment?
Right now I’m still at the start. I’ve got a suite of 5 products, a simple online retail presence with goods tested and appropriate for my market. I mainly deal with USB power banks, Base stations/ multi chargers, high quality charge cables and smart watches / pendants.
I’m moving into smart homes with NFC enabled rings and google home connected compatible accessories as phase 1.5.
Phase two involves low cost fitness trackers with multiple OS support and long battery time with specific, bespoke software tools in the areas of duress alarms and women and safety.
What was the biggest obstacle? How about biggest achievement?
The biggest challenge has been just relying on myself and thinking I could “do it all”. I’m slowly realising that “being able to do it all” and “can do it all” are two very different beasts.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
I think a new market largely uninformed about wearables and the possibilities of that technology, coupled with the lack of a female presence in tech generally have been the two biggest mountains to climb.
In terms of being a woman .. well I’m lucky. I have some great fellow tech geeks in my life. But, like many women I’m often given a raised eyebrow and hear the phrase: “you do tech stuff?” all the time.
Why is #WomenInTech movement important to you?
Simple! I’m actually really sick of there never ever being a queue to the ladies toilets at work.. or any other tech workplace. It’s a well worn and often spoken about “ideal” but we NEED a diversity of voices in technology and we’re sadly way behind the 8 ball.
How does the tech ecosystem look in Adelaide?
The future is bright eyed! We have a number of precincts and innovation in business and the ecosystem has public and political support!
What will be your main goals as Women of Wearables Ambassador in Adelaide?
I want folks to nod and understand what a wearable is and what it can do for them .. and to make women aware that they don’t need to look like a man to wear a bit of tech kit.
What will be the key trends in the wearable tech and fashion tech industries in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
I think finally we are hitting on a time where the market is recognised and more importantly beginning to be considered in new technology design decisions. There are huge gender and culture gaps in Big Data Analysis, DRL (Deep Learning Radiomics)/ AI, etc right now. I believe in the next five years that will change. The new frontier is to discover the input and insight women have into the design and delivery of technology in our everyday lives.
Who are your 3 inspirational women or businesses in tech?
Hedy Lamar (She invented wifi!!! .. sorta)
Beverly Matthews - An unrepentant Adelaide programmer in her 70’s now who was told she couldn’t do something.. then went ahead and did it anyway. She was instrumental in terms of Industrial automation when manufacturing machines were managed by Apple Mac Classics!
Any woman who also writes code and knows her way around a unix command line like me. GO HARD! CHICKS!
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of 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.