At the Women in Cloud (WIC) Digital Summit 2021 – a virtual conference running January 28-30 – the focus was on building economic impact and equity to bridge the gaps that hinder women tech entrepreneurs.  As a group, WIC goes beyond building connections — from recruiting to mentoring to creating more equity through a new cloud marketplace — so much is boots on the ground. 

Watching the #ExecConnectPanel, sponsored by Qumulo, I was inspired by the practical advice on how to persevere in selling to public sector, along with the clear call to redefine the way we approach our businesses with agility and an acceptance of quick changes in context, made especially salient by the seismic disruptions of this pandemic year. 

Announcing the WIC Solution Marketplace–Open for Business

Chaitra Vedullapalli, Meylah & Women in Cloud, introduced Barry Russell, WIC board member and  SVP Cloud at Qumulo who spoke about the size of the market opportunity. According to IDC, spending on cloud services, the hardware and software components underpinning cloud services, and the professional and managed services opportunities around cloud services will surpass $1 trillion in 2024. Clearly, the pandemic is driving the digital imperative for enterprises like never before creating opportunities for cloud entrepreneurs. 

“The way that these solutions are getting procured is on cloud marketplaces offered by cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, as well as AppDirect,” said Russell.  What better way to help women entrepreneurs get their products in front of enterprise buyers today than to provide them with a cloud marketplace of their own?  

Russell helped architect and launch the WIC Solution Marketplace, a one-stop shop for technology solutions and services for the mid-to-enterprise market — created, owned, and operated by women entrepreneurs. The range and depth of the tech is awesome. Take a look and support them.

WIC Solution Marketplace

WIC Solution Marketplace — showcases the collective power of innovation–created, owned, and operated by women entrepreneurs

Countering inequity with community 

Colleen O’Brien, of M12 – Microsoft’s Venture Fund – opened the #ExecConnectPanel by painting a picture of the challenges women-owned businesses face with investors, despite the fact they are more likely to succeed and therefore, a better bet. 

While statistics highlight the obstacles women entrepreneurs face, this conference was all about how to succeed with inspiration and practical instruction led by women tech entrepreneurs and leaders across the global technology community.  

By sharing best practices and collective visions, we organically grow and expand our reach together — Chaitra Vedullapalli, Co-founder and CMO, Meylah, and President, Women in Cloud

Go be this change

One of the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Cloud, Gina Fratancergeli, Accenture, is focused on helping the next generation of leadership to succeed by making the path less difficult. “Develop a business vision to think differently, let go of what’s now, nothing is permanent, change is constant, challenge your own thoughts.” Fratancergeli likened it to the “blockchain of life”—where diverse ideas flow freely, building on each other and preparing you for what’s ahead. “Think critically at all times and visualize what the future can look like,” she said. “Go be this change.” 

#ExecConnect panel — prepare for a profound shift

From a global enterprise branding expert, to a chief diversity office in the public sector, to the owner of a software development company — here are some insights from the members of the executive panel, moderated by Kristen Miller of Stylyz.  

Develop a quick narrative—Katina Kenyon, CEO, Applaudo Studios is an entrepreneur who stressed the ability to articulate your value prop when calling into enterprises as well as the tenacity to hang on during long enterprise sales cycles. “Make meaningful connections who can help you gain access to tech investors,” she said. “Take your ideas to Accelerators like WIC’s or Incubators for vetting.” 

Go get certified—Wendy Garcia is the chief diversity officer at the Office of NYC Comptroller, where they have addressed systemic racism, gender gaps, and disproportionate pay by revising the scope of work to open doors. Now their vendors are about 50% women owned. “Don’t be put off by bureaucracy,” she said. “Work with your municipal governments and get certified as a woman-owned business to diversify your portfolio. Go do it.”

Redefine—Amy Protexter, Senior Vice President, North America Marketing at Insight, is an expert at global rebranding. She advocates joining groups like WIC to get help. “2020 was about resilience during a pandemic,” she said. “In 2021, I think the focus will be on redefining business. A hundred years from now, history will show the profound shift we are living through.”

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