At last week’s ArabNet Beirut conference, Wamda caught up with Kelly Hoey, the New York-based startup mentor, community-building expert, angel investor, and cofounder and former managing director of Women Innovate Mobile, a startup accelerator that focused on mobile tech ventures with gender-diverse founding teams (it shut its doors about a year ago). We spoke to her specifically about her thoughts on supporting women entrepreneurs in the Arab region (and the West), how to build and use networks to one’s advantage, and how teams can use social media to simultaneously strengthen their internal culture and external message.
When asked about the best ways investors can go about supporting women entrepreneurs, as well as women who have yet to take the leap into starting their own project, Hoey emphasized the importance of role models, and telling stories of success in addition to the challenge. “If all you hear about is how difficult something is, you’re not going to want to do it,” she laughed.
Hoey couldn’t emphasize enough the importance of networks to the development of an ecosystem – or, indeed, an individual career. “For anyone, whether a startup or an individual, opportunity comes from networks. You never know where your next opportunity, your sale, your CTO, your first hire [will come from], and you don’t want them coming from the same perspective or the same network, so wider networks [are very important],” she said.
On the topic of how companies can use social media to their advantage, Hoey spoke about how a company’s emphasis on outward presentation on social media networks can actually clarify its mission and vision to employees, and make them feel more involved in the process. “One of the first things a company should do, whether they’re big or small, is sit down with employees and talk about how they want them to hold themselves out. I think that builds a stronger team culture because everyone understands what the corporate brand is…. It’s a way to say here’s who we are and what we stand for, and you’re a part of that.”
Check out the video for more insights.