ALLY WATSON, 29
Co-founder and CEO of tech company Code Like a Girl How did you come up with the business idea?
‘I have a Computer Science degree and had been working as a developer for six years when I moved to Melbourne. I wanted to get uptodate with the industry but all the meetups were heavily maledominated and I felt really intimidated. I figured other women must be going through the same thing, so in August 2015, I asked my boss if I could host a wine night for women in tech at our office. Within two weeks of putting the event online I had over 100 RSVPs – and I realised I was onto something.’
What was the next step?
‘The biggest thing for me was making the events regular so I could build up a community, and making them free or low cost so anyone could come along and learn.’
When did you decide to start offering coding classes? ‘Speaking to women at the events, I realised lots of them wanted to get into tech but didn’t have the skills to do so. I asked a bunch of successful females in the tech world to volunteer their time and got them to host free workshops. They were such a success we started holding them at schools with girls from grade one through to 12.’
How do you fund the events? ‘First I just got companies to cover the cost of food, but my time and effort was not being paid for, so I couldn’t grow the business. I partnered with a friend, Vanessa Doake, who has a background in HR and helped remodel my funding structure. Now companies pay a 12month subscription to come along to our events, get to know our community and promote their business.’
What’s been the hardest part? ‘Working two jobs and trying to balance a social life at the same time was really tough, especially when all my family was so far away in Scotland. Despite all that, hearing a young girl say she loves coding makes it all worth it.’
INSPIRING FELLOW CODERS.