The November meeting of Women in Telecoms & Technology (WiTT) celebrated women entrepreneurs in tech with a panel discussion among leading women who have founded, grown, and in some cases sold businesses in the tech sector. Our women entrepreneurs event was timed to take place in the week after Global Entrepreneurship Week, which ran from 14-20 November this year.
Audrey Mandela, WiTT Chair and co-founder of Multimap.com, chaired the panel. Our speakers were:
- Megan Neale, Co-Founder and CIO, Limitless;
- Puja Balachander, Head of Venture Launchpad, Carbon13;
- Melanie Shufflebotham, Co-founder and COO, Zap Map; and
- Anne Todd, Partner, Michelmores LLP.
Our panel discussed their views and experiences, including:
- panelists’ own challenges in starting and growing (and in some cases selling) their businesses;
- best and worst decisions made while building their businesses;
- whether panelists believe there are differences between male and female entrepreneurs, the types of businesses they start, their management styles, and their experiences of raising capital;
- views on scaling up businesses started in the UK; and
- advice for other women entrepreneurs.
WiTT would like to thank Michelmores LLP for hosting.
Chair, Women in Telecoms & Technology / Co-Founder, Multimap /Independent Consultant / Angel Investor
Audrey Mandela is chair of Women in Telecoms & Technology (WiTT), a networking group for women in the sector. She also runs Mandela Associates, which provides market research and consulting services for select clients in the telecom, internet and geographical information sectors.
Audrey was Co-Founder of Multimap, one of the world’s leading online mapping providers, where she acted as the company’s corporate counsel and marketing director, and was a board director. Multimap was acquired by Microsoft in December 2007.
Audrey was formerly Senior Vice President, International, for the Yankee Group, one of the industry’s leading IT research firms. As Senior VP, Audrey was responsible for managing the Yankee Group’s research, consulting and sales activities in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Audrey is also a member of the advisory board of Angel Academe, an angel network that focuses on investments in women-led businesses; and an advisor for TEDxLondonBusinessSchool; a non-executive director on several tech start-ups; she recently served as a board director for Wedu, a charity that mentors and supports young women leaders from underserved communities in Southeast Asia.
Puja Balachander, Head of Venture Launchpad, Carbon13
Puja is a recently exited founder using her capital, and product and commercial experience to accelerate the just transition. She’s currently Head of the Venture Launchpad at Carbon13, where she supports pre-seed stage climate tech startups to accelerate their progress.
Most recently Puja was Director of Product at Think of Us, a civic tech company dedicated to systems change in the child welfare system. Before this, she was founder/CEO of Devie (acquired by Think of Us), a startup that supported parents of children 2-3 YO to understand and manage their children’s behaviour. Prior to this, She was in civic tech, working at local (City of Austin), national (White House Presidential Innovation Fellows), and international (World Bank in Madagascar) governmental organizations to make public services better. Puja has an MBA from Oxford, and a BA from American University.
Megan Neale, Co-Founder and CIO, Limitless
Megan Neale is co-founder and COO of Limitless, a GigCX platform that empowers people to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for brands they love. Megan has a background in global CX operations and technology and is widely regarded as a thought leader in customer experience digital innovation.
Over her career she has held a range of leadership roles in outsourcing and for Unilever. She was founding shareholder of Semafone, the market leading PCI compliance platform for contact centers. Her passion for promoting diversity and inclusion lead to the creation of the Limitless GoodGig® charter which ensures GigCX experts are treated fairly.
Melanie Shufflebotham, Co-founder and COO, Zap Map
Melanie Shufflebothan co-founded Zap-Map, the award-winning website and app which is seen as the authority on the UK’s public charging network. Registered users enjoy accurate route planning and EV charge point features. 2021 innovations included the addition of more charging providers to the Zap-Pay app, and the introduction of a new electricity tariff especially for EV drivers, in conjunction with Good Energy.
Melanie was Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships & Business Development at T-Mobile International, and Business Development Manager, eCommerce at 3Com.
Anne Todd, Partner, Michelmores
Anne Todd is a partner in the Commercial team at Michelmores and leads the Technology & Innovation practice in London. She joined the firm from Macfarlanes in 2022.
She has been advising clients in the technology, communications, data and infrastructure sector for over 25 years, including as in-house lawyer at BT, Vodafone and Balfour Beatty.
She was General Counsel and a co-founder of Storm Telecom, where she advised on the roll-out of its European and US fibre network, and on all regulatory and commercial legal matters. She also managed corporate finance projects, including a management buy-out backed by Soros Private Equity. She was General Counsel of Sodexo UK, responsible for all legal support to the UK operations, and was Head of Legal at Tesco Mobile and at Infinity SDC, a data centre operator.
Anne has expertise in drafting and negotiating agreements with a heavy technology, intellectual property and data component including technology outsourcing and procurement, software and app licensing and development, cloud services and data centres. She also advises on GDPR compliance.
She also has experience in energy, retail & leisure, and financial services sectors and has advised on a wide range of commercial agreements and customer terms and conditions including in relation to outsourcing, franchising, hotel operations, facilities management and fuel supply.