Sheri’s childhood was chaotic having to attended over 20 schools by the time she received her diploma. After graduating from UC San Diego, she started working with Sun Microsystems and later attained an MBA to sharpen her business skills. Shortly after having her daughter, she parted ways with her husband and put her best forward to end on a good note. She quickly realized that despite her efforts, the side effects of a divorce can complicate things. One day while doing an expense report for Symantec, Sheri started to imagine how such a report could be used to benefit her child support dilemma. She quit her high-paying VP position, learned how to code and started to build her application. Within a year she was able to get her first 100 users and gained valuable insight on the most-needed features and ideal price point.
“The Bigger the Pain, The More They’ll Pay”
It didn’t take long to discover that some divorcees would pay virtually any amount to automate their childhood affairs. But when in the room with Valley VC’s, many had doubts and solidified the price point at $9.99/month. After continual pitches and little response, funds started to get low and Sheri needed to find an investor and fast. Almost miraculously, 2 of the biggest Silicon players, Marc Benioff and Tim Draper gave the greenlight on a $100 k investment. If Sheri wouldn’t have received funding at that precise moment, she planned to apply for food stamps the following day.
Since then, SupportPay has successfully raised an $4 M Series A round and have moved their operation to Sacramento. You can watch her Startup Grind Sacramento Interview here.
Born in Stockton and raised in Sacramento, Margaret founded her first startup named Paymo with the model that customers would be charged for their digital transactions on their phones rather than their credit/debit cards. Feeling that the idea was ahead of its time for the states, she raised most of the funding in the UK where it was already being practiced. In order to effectively acquire a user base, they targeted online and mobile gamers who were mostly too young to own a Visa but old enough to have a cell phone.
“If you can bring women up to the level of equality in business relations, we would add $25 trillion to the global economy.”
She co-founded Astia in 2008 as a nonprofit in San Francisco providing networks and capital to women who are managing or involved with high growth tech startups. After seeing the clear challenges for women to raise funds in the industry, she was compelled to help make it easier. Not only did it make sense morally, but from a financial standpoint, she feels that women can contribute a lot to the global economy but are largely underfunded. Astia offers free and low-cost services to female entrepreneurs and now have offices in Silicon Valley, Boston, London and more. She discussed how female entrepreneurs tend to underestimate their qualifications in favor of a man. This hinders the amount of examples that young women look up to and gain confidence in their abilities. In regards to the value of programs that promote women and minorities, Margaret commented:
“Regardless of your gender or color, in order to believe it, you have to see it.”
Despite the obvious and not so apparent reasons why women struggle in the tech industry, Margaret understood that the difficulties of an entrepreneur remain gender neutral. The grueling task of working for little to no pay along with constantly trying to beat the odds are true regardless of your reproductive organs. She also emphasized the importance of a team and how significant it is for the well-being of a company.