Women Who Tech Are Dangerous: Portraits and Stories in the Age of #metoo

All portraits and interviews by John Davidson


Ingrid Vanderveldt

Ingrid Vanderveldt


Ingrid Vanderveldt

Job Title: Founder and CEO of EBW2020, MintHER™, Vanderveldt Global Investments and Ingrid Vanderveldt LLC.

Company Website: http://ebw2020.com 

Years working in the tech industry: 20

On the ‘Empower a Billion Women By 2020’ mission:

Our vision is to Empower a Billion Women by 2020 by providing access to the tools, tech and resources needed for women to succeed as leaders and entrepreneurs. We aspire to help 1M women surpass the $1M annual revenue mark (currently less than 3% ever do) and help a handful of women surpass the $100M mark.

We are building the world’s largest community and database of qualified, trained, and vetted women and diverse led business owners. These women are seeking to grow their businesses with those partners who authentically care to see them succeed. EBW is that place they come together online and offline. Here they gain education, mentorship and financial know-how to earn & become qualified, trained and vetted to meet the needs of corporations and funders seeking to gain access to them.

Foundations — on how a Masters degree in Architecture (Savannah, GA) led to a career in tech:

While in architecture school I was elected one of 5 National Directors of The American Institute of Architecture Students and was appointed the National Student Representative of the American Institute of Architects. I found myself regularly in meetings with policy makers and high level businesses executives across the US and I figured if I got a law degree and a business degree that I would have a better idea knowing what they were talking about and being more effective. So I applied to both. I started businesses while in business school so got my MBA and never did the law degree. I saw starting companies as very analogous to architecture. You are given (or you find) a set of “white space” and resources and from that create something that inspires people to want to be in/ be a part of and be their best.

On gender bias across industries:

Gender bias is the same in every industry I have experienced. In architecture I was told I should give up school since I would “get married, have children and it wasn’t fair that I was taking a spot that a guy could have”. In business I was told I “don’t look, act, sound like any executive that gets funding and would never be able to raise money,” to cite a couple examples.

On creating the ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ program at Dell:

I was inspired by the vision to “Empower a billion Women by 2020” and knew I needed a global tech partner to execute that vision. I wanted to team with Dell. Fortunately at the same time, I knew Dell was making a play to see how they could better serve the needs of women and entrepreneurs around the globe. I organized a meeting with the President of Dell, Steve Felice, and pitched the idea to him. In that meeting he greenlit the idea and that’s how it happened. We had incredible success together and Steve is now the first outside investor in EBW.

On the responsibilities of Dell’s ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’:

I oversaw entrepreneurial initiatives globally for the company. I developed The Dell Center for Entrepreneurs, The Dell Innovators Credit Fund ($100M), The Dell Founders club and built a $250M+ business within 36 months.

Under the influence — on the women who helped shape the path:

My mother — who taught me to be strong while feminine. In our family we were expected to do our best — that anything is possible with hard work. It was impressed upon us that the only limitations we would face are the ones we place on ourselves. I was very blessed in that way. I knew from the time I was 4 that I would be a global citizen serving women and girls around the globe.

Robin Curle, here in Austin, was my first female mentor and taught me fundraising, sales, management and dealmaking. Carol Thompson — early on in my career, she would meet me at 6 in the morning for meetings and taught me about the power of relationships. Today, I learn every day from the other executives of EBW and the women we serve!

The lack of confidence is why 90% of women don’t start, grow or scale their ventures... I find great joy in finding women that are aspiring to “move the needle,” and while they might have fearful moments are willing, with mentorship, to push through to their fullest potential. This fuels me to no end.

On women who continue to provide inspiration:

Mother Teresa, who has inspired me to live a life of service. Oprah, who inspires me to be my best and live a life of impact.

Many women inspire me to be my best in business — like Barbara Corcoran who is absolutely fantastic. I love her “just get on with it” attitude and I’m grateful for the times I have been able to spend with her. My EA Pam Pike is the one who, when I saw no way out of a particularly challenging moment in the business, she was the person who said, “We can do this — we can make this happen.” Finally, Anna McCoy, CEO of The EBW Foundation who continues to show me that following in our faith wrapped in solid business principles opens up and makes the impossible possible.

On the inspiration for EBW2020:

EBW2020 is my mission/ ministry work that also happens to be a business. I was “called” to EBW2020 in prayer while driving on a dirt road in Dallas Texas in 2011.

On what it will take for EBW2020 to be considered a success:

If I was going to be honest with myself, I would have to say that we already are. The fact that we have come this far, reached women all over the globe, built a tribe of women who are following their calling, in service and creating amazing businesses around it is incredible. I am inspired every day. Now, that said, I am in the game of results as well so reaching the billion and helping those 1M women is something that I just “have to do” as part of the call.

On refusing to have a career limited by gender discrimination:

I made up my mind that I would drive my own career and make what I wanted to make happen, happen. So I have gotten LOTS and LOTS of “no’s” in my career (100 “no’s” for every yes) and I imagine that in some cases I was likely passed over. That said, I think its only fair for women to start admitting that we too tend to elevate to people who are like us. But, things are changing now and opportunities are growing like never before.

On the hazards of the workplace — sexual harassment from a managerial figure:

Of course (I have experienced it). I am sure most people have at some point or another.

On whether the work climate for women, and the opportunity for career advancement, has changed during her years within the tech industry:

Absolutely 100%. There are more opportunities now for women than ever before. Companies, investors, partners and more are seeing the enormous business value of the incredible innovations that women bring to the table and see working together as a competitive advantage opportunity. Its an exciting time and I feel blessed to be building EBW2020 during this critical time in our world’s history.

On the challenges most commonly seen in young women she mentors:

The struggle with self worth and confidence. The lack of confidence is why 90% of women don’t start, grow or scale their ventures. This is why I partnered up with the #1 mentor in their area, Pat Pearson. Pat is the best selling author of “Stop Self Sabotage,” and she now leads our faculty programs and coaches our faculty and our women. I find great joy in finding women that are aspiring to “move the needle,” and while they might have fearful moments are willing, with mentorship, to push through to their fullest potential. This fuels me to no end.

One piece of advice for young women at the beginning of their career:

Find yourself a great mentor, surround yourself with a group of 5 (your “tribe”), and join EBW2020 where you can get all of that and everything else you need to build successfully!

On women founders, and their greatest challenge:

Honestly? Excuses. Building your dream and busting through barriers can be trying at times — I get it! There are many days I too feel like I want to give up and do something easier! That said — as I look at EBW2020 as one example of a company that serves women, I look at what we have created… and there are many amazing companies for women. We built what I wished I always had — answers, solutions, access to world class mentors, accountability partners, community, chapters to meet, education, financial literacy help in a confidential safe environment, money matching to corporate contracts, investors and other funders. Truly a soup-to-nuts one stop shop for builders that happen to be women.

I can honestly say with love that there is absolutely NO excuse any more for any woman, anywhere not to be able to build her dream into a venture that can take of her, her family, her community and ultimately the world. The only thing that can stop women now is ourselves.

That said, executives need to set new goals and policies that create measurements of inclusion. This would help to combat the issue that women will apply for positions only if they meet 100% of qualifications while men will come if they meet 60%.

On measures to ensure that women are given a seat at the table:

First of all we need to recognize that any seat at the table has to be earned (its not a mandate but rather goal to include women).

That said, executives need to set new goals and policies that create measurements of inclusion. This would help to combat the issue that women will apply for positions only if they meet 100% of qualifications while men will come if they meet 60%. Women will show up faster for opportunities if they see that they are truly welcome for the business value they bring

Along those lines, corporations need to host “think tank” and strategy days to teach leaders and managers the BUSINESS VALUE of diversity and inclusion to their companies. Its not just a good/ right thing to do — it makes business sense!

On creating LASTING change:

Support legislation that encourages, provides recognition and opens new opportunities for those companies that have been certified as doing such.

Along those lines, EBW is proud to be announcing a new EBW Certification program — EBW Certified Enterprise, led by EBW leader Dan Hughes — that offers validation and verification that corporations have, in fact, been reviewed and are taking active measures to make investments in and contracts to women/ diverse led companies. This certification is different than WBENC and WeConnect certifications — ours focuses on the validation and verification that the funding to those businesses is/ has actually taken place.

On feeling optimistic that the change is real, and the pardigm shift of 2017–18:

Of course I feel optimistic! I think its an extraordinary time in our world’s history. This past year 2017–2018 will go down in the history books as a critical moment in world culture when the “shift” really began to happen in a big way. Now — excited to see EBW2020 help put a cherry on top of that for women (and the amazing men that collaborate with us!) in 2020!

Rachelle Oribio

Rachelle Oribio

Martha Czernuszenko

Martha Czernuszenko