If you’re not considering women when you do business, you’re taking money off the table.
That was the message Thursday evening from Kelly Hoey, founder and managing director of New York City-based Women Innovate Mobile.
“Girls got the checkbooks,” she said, noting that women influence 85 percent of business transactions and directly or indirectly contribute between $7 trillion and $8 trillion annually in business and consumer purchases.
Hoey spoke to about 100 people involved in information technology, entrepreneurship and Omaha’s corporate world as part of a “speak easy” series put on by the AIM Institute and Straight Shot, an Omaha-based e-commerce and software accelerator.
Other speakers at DJ’s Dugout in Aksarben Village were Rick Turoczy, co-founder of the Portland Incubator Experiment, and Straight Shot participants Jesse Hultgren, chief executive officer of Cympel, and Alex Adelman, founder and CEO of Cosmic Cart.
Hoey’s program requires a woman on each founding team and focuses on mobile and mobile-first companies.
“They think women are the niche part,” she said, “but they’re your customers. They’re your clients.”
Businesses also tend to miss the best ways to apply new mobile technologies, she said.
More than 90 percent of Americans have cellphones and 56 percent have smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.
That’s important for startups to take into account, Hoey said, because more people are turning to mobile devices more often for purchases, opening an opportunity for startups to create innovative products that make people’s lives easier.
“Don’t think about the technology,” she said. “Think about the person behind it.”
Turoczy, whose Portland incubator has accelerated 40 companies and generated more than 400 jobs in four years, recommended that startups recruit people with diverse skill sets.
Not everyone will be a founder, he said, but they can still fill a need as mentors, investors or new hires. “In my mind, entrepreneurship is a very realistic path to success.”
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