Despite the slow tempo, the change is happening now
The conversation around gender diversity in tech has been going on for quite some time already, but the numbers are still not in favor of women. The data is clear though: women are not only still underrepresented and underpaid, but they are also still being discriminated against in the tech industry. According to a study conducted by the Silicon Valley Bank, only 7% of US start-ups have at least one woman on the board of directors, and only 53% have at least one woman in an executive position. The Women Who Tech report gives an even more alarming statistic: in the US, in the 2020 study, 44% of female founders said they’d been harassed, and the percentage grew to 65% for LGBTQ+ founders. When it comes to Europe, in 2021, out of 74 million people in EU, 52% of people employed in science and technology were women. Although these numbers look promising, there is still a lot to be done when it comes to gender equality and diversity in tech.
A 2021 report published by McKinsey states that employees with women managers are more likely to say that they were supported and helped over the past year. The study also found out that women leaders are up to twice as likely to spend substantial time on DEI work. Sadly, despite all this great work, the report states that women of colour, LGBTQ+ women and women with disabilities are much more likely than women overall to experience microaggressions as professionals. Related to that, women are much more affected by burnout, stress, and exhaustion due to their everyday experiences at work.
Fortunately, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. The report conducted by Female Founders Forum states that in the GreenTech sector, women were able to conquer at least some of the issues. According to the study, female-led businesses have received 42% of all venture capital going towards greentech businesses – more than an equal proportion of equity funding.
Because of that, we decided to spotlight five amazing women-led GreenTech start-ups, in order to shed some more light on the importance of diverse workforces. Despite the numbers being not in favor of women in tech, these women did an exceptional job in the GreenTech sector and drive the acceleration towards a greener, more sustainable future.
5 Women-Led GreenTech Startups in Europe:
PlanA – Lubomila Jordanova
PlanA is amongst one of the most recognizable GreenTechs in the space. A software provider offering an end-to-end platform that uses machine learning and science to enable businesses to manage and improve their carbon and ESG performance, PlanA has been founded in 2017 by Lubomila Jordanova. Lubomila did not only establish Plan A, but she is also the founder of Greentech Alliance, which is a community of more than 1,500 startups connected to more than 500 advisors from VC, media, and business. Her success doesn’t finish there: so far, Plan A has an overall impact of client CO2e emissions reductions of roughly 60%. Plan A was one of the only start-ups to receive an invitation to COP26 summit, where Jordanova spoke as a guest. Amongst many other awards, Lubomila has been recognized as a MIT Innovator Under 35 Europe 2022, Marshall Fund Fellow 2022, Top 50 Women in Tech in Germany 2021 (Handelsblatt) and 30 under 30 (Forbes).
Single.earth – Merit Valdsalu
Single.Earth is an Estonian-bases Startup founded by Merit Valdsalu. The company merges FinTech and GreenTech, by providing a tokenization platform that enables forests, wetlands, and other planetary resources to generate profit for landowners by selling them as carbon and biodiversity credits. English studies alumna, Merit worked at companies such as Pipedrive and Raintree Estonia prior to establishing Single.Earth. Currently, her start-up is focused on Europe and its forests: areas close to home for Merit and the rest of her team.
In an interview, Merit spoke about the biggest challenges she faced in her carrier: “I think the biggest challenge for me has been finding the right career path. As an English major, becoming a startup founder was not an obvious choice. And neither was working in the tech sector in general. I’ve been a tech writer, content writer, I’ve led localization at Pipedrive, tried out programming and learned some finance. I’ve tried building a couple of startups before. Having done all of that, and learned massively from each of these endeavours and from the people I met during the journey, I feel that I am right now exactly where I need to be.”
Too Good To Go – Mette Lykke
Too Good to Go is a FoodTech startup that targets food waste by providing a platform where customers get connected to restaurants and stores that have unsold food surplus. The company was founded in 2015 in Denmark, and it was joined by Mette Lykke as CEO in 2017, after she first invested in the company. Too Good To Go is not the first start-up adventure for Lykke though. Her first venture was co-founding Endomondo, the successful fitness network app, before it was bought over by Under Armour. Born and currently based in Denmark, Lykke says that finding TGTG is amongst the most meaningful projects she found in Copenhagen.
As she describes it: “It has huge potential. It’s not just that we’re doing good, it also makes sense commercially. Our mission is a world where food produced is food consumed. There’s proof of concept, so it’s just a matter of scaling.”
According to an article, one in ten adults in Europe now use a sustainable food app, with Too Good To Go leading the way in terms of downloads. The platform has now over 18 million users.
HydroGrid – Janice Goodenough
HydroGrid, based in Vienna, Austria, specializes in an intelligent IoT-solution for the optimal control of hydro power plants. According to their company, their SaaS platform allows for optimal production planning and dispatch, which in return helps power plant owners to increase their revenue by 18%. HydroGrid was founded in 2016 by Janice Goodenough, who is currently the CEO of the company. Janice is an alumna of Vienna University of Technology and holds an MSc in mathematics, and has over 10 years of management experience. She is also the lad of the Technical University of Vienna’s Alumni Club Energy Circle and is a member of the future board of the German Chamber of Commerce in Austria. Additionally, Janice is considered an expert in the field of optimization of flexible power generation assets, and she is also a member of the board of the European Energy Analyst Meeting Steering Committee.
Her company has a number of supporters and prizes, including Climate-KIC and Iceberg Innovation Leadership Award.
TripDoodler – Josephine Piplits
Founded in 2019, TripDoodler is a platform for conscious travellers where they can find and share verified sustainable travel options, with a searchable database of user ratings. TripDoodler aims at making sustainable travel accessible to anyone, by empowering the community with first-hand insights in regards to their footprint. The company was founded by Josephine Piplits in Denmark, she holds a Professional Certificate on Sustainable Tourism from GSTC and has over 20 years of experience within the travel industry. Josephine herself has visited 48 countries so far, and is very passionate about making the travel sector more sustainable. In May 2022, TripDoodler signed a collaboration with Green Key – an award in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainability within the tourism industry.
As Josephine said in regards to TripDoodler: “The icing on the cake, and potentially my favorite part of TripDoodler, is that we’ve built sustainability algorithms into our platform. In other words, we make it possible to see the impact of the choices you make in your travel plans. Our sustainability focus doesn’t focus solely on environmental impact. Every traveller has a personal choice on where to focus, to travel more sustainably. We leave it up to them to decide what they regard as most important.”
At Storm4, we partner with startups at the cutting edge of green innovation to help them scale and meet their mission of a sustainable future. If you are at the cusp of hyper-growth and need advice and support in building your teams, get in touch today.