International Women's Day: Q&A with Carly Shamgar
To celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March, we're shining a spotlight on some of our exceptional women founders and the innovative ways they're making a big difference in their respective fields.
We recently spoke with Carly Shamgar, Co-Founder and CEO of Shouta, about how she came to start her company, the challenges facing women in emerging technology, and advice she'd pass along to women considering a career in the industry.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I've been in the tech startup world for over a decade as a co-founder, senior business leader, and investor. I had the incredible experience of being a founding member of another startup in the retail tech space which went on to a successful exit in the US and I'm hoping to do it all again with Shouta. Outside of work, I'm a mum to two beautiful boys and I am very driven to show them both that a woman can have it all and doesn't need to choose between a successful career and being a parent.
Can you tell us a bit about the company you founded, Shouta, and what made you decide to launch it?
Shouta is a digital gifting app that lets you shout anyone in Australia nano-gifts (small, digital gifts) like coffee, drinks, or anything else as a gesture. Shouts are perfect for saying thanks, congrats, cheer up, and more. My co-founder Nick Redwood and I decided to launch the business because we both have friends and family scattered everywhere and there had been many times we would have liked to have sent a token of our thoughts to them - beyond an email or SMS - but there just wasn't an instant or inexpensive solution. Since the launch of the App, we've also launched Shouta Biz, a web version of Shouta which is built for businesses to send shouts to teams.
What three words would you use to describe working at a startup, and why?
Fast-paced, frustrating, and rewarding.
What does your typical day look like?
We start every single day with a team meeting at 9:15am. We work in fortnightly sprint cycles so it's a way for us to check in on the sprint and with each other and have any further discussions needed to get the sprint done. From 10am I start external meetings. These are super varied and include investors (new and potential), potential partners, corporate customers, and various one on ones with the team. These meetings are peppered throughout the day. Between meetings, I'm working on specific tasks that need to get done to bring projects or new initiatives to life. If I'm working from home, I'll always break at 4pm to welcome my kids home from school and check in with them about their day, give them some snacks, and then I'll jump back online until around 5. I'm typically not online again until around 8 (if I need to be) which is after the boys have been taken care ie: after sport drop off/pick up, homework, dinner, etc.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced launching your company?
I would say that would absolutely have to be the lack of resources, specifically bums on seats! Nick and I have a pretty good roadmap of where we're going and what we want to achieve but we need more people on the team to do it all. With that said, I am genuinely blown away by the sheer amount of work and milestones we have reached with the small team that we have! We just want to do things faster.
Do you notice a lack of women in emerging technology? If so, why do you think that's the case?
I have to say that yes, I do. I'm not 100% sure why that is but I would say that sadly, people are still conditioned by stereotypical gender-based ideals and that some of these sectors are considered more "male" even from as early as high school. What I do see though is change on the horizon. Having kids of my own I can see the way schools are starting to promote pathways in tech, even from a very early age, equally to both genders. The NSW government has also done a great job in announcing various grants for female founders and there are more and more awards for female-led businesses so I think all this will work to encourage more women into tech.
What advice would you give to women considering a career in the emerging technology industry? What do you wish you had known?
If I can compare my past experiences to my current one at Shouta, the main difference would be the network of women in the industry and the various opportunities to tap into, from awards and co-sharing spaces to programs and grants. My advice would be to get involved in it all! They do genuinely help immensely.
At Stone & Chalk, we believe in supporting innovative women who are making a difference. That's why we've launched the Stone & Chalk IWD Scholarship, aimed at supporting a Melbourne-based startup whose founder identifies as a woman.
The 6-month scholarship will be geared towards helping take a woman-led startup to the next level, offering curated services to drive impact, growth, recognition, and investment, as well as 24/7 access to our start-of-the-art facilities in Melbourne.
For more information, visit here.