Allison Esposito

Founder of Tech Ladies

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 03, 2017

Discussion

Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
Hi everyone! I'm Allison Esposito. I founded a bootstrapped community business called Tech Ladies which has grown to 15,000 members. We help women find jobs in tech, accelerate their careers, and support each other. Before this, I worked in marketing and product at Foursquare, a startup called Oyster, and Google. I'm passionate about turning side projects into a full-time jobs, working remotely, bootstrapping, community, and diversity and inclusion in tech. I'm excited to take your questions!
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
Hey Allison, thanks for joining us! Can you share how you've gone about growing the Tech Ladies community, and now that it's at 15,000 members, ways you're going about keeping community members engaged and active?
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@nivo0o0 Yes! We've grown through word of mouth, events, our newsletters, and now our ambassador program (aka referral program). To keep community members engaged, we encourage discussions around hashtags that we've created. A few examples (#YEPIMADETHAT or #YEPIDIDTHAT is for sharing your wins at work, #HELPASISTEROUT is for anonymous advice about struggles at work, #DISCUSS for chatting and #RESOURCE for when you want to share something useful with the group). This structure has helped a lot!
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Allison! I'm curious what your plans are for Tech Ladies. I remember when it launched ~year ago and it's grown quite a bit since then. 👏🏼
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@rrhoover Hi Ryan! Since we've launched the site (www.hiretechladies.com) and our job board, we've worked with 500+ companies to help them hire more women in tech. We've also launched events in cities all around the US and CA with our City Organizers, a series of Online Events so Tech Ladies can learn new things all over the world, and we've continued to build our online community. We also launched a paid version of the Tech Ladies community who we call our Founding Members, and we hook them up with perks, free events, and a smaller group to network with. So it's been a busy year! Now that we have all of this built out, our plan for 2018-2019 is to make all of it stronger and better and to grow to 3x our size (we are on track to do this).
Eric Friedman@ericfriedman · Partner @ BlockTower
Hi Allison, What are some of the best ways and places to keep a community engaged? Thinking with so many software tools available (thinking Slack, Google Groups, FB groups, etc...) when it can be information overload and you want to make sure you are adding value not interrupting.
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@ericfriedman Hi Eric. Thanks for the question. I think the platform you use depends on your goals and the size of your community. For example, we run Tech Ladies using Facebook groups instead of Slack, because with 15,000 members, we feel a Slack community would get overwhelming, fast. Plus, it will attract those who have time to chat in a Slack group instead of checking Facebook posts at the end of their day, or on a break. As for best ways? Figure out what things you see repeated or asked in your community often, then build conversations around those. For us, we often saw that people wanted to ask questions anonymously about the troubles they were having at work, so we created an anonymous hashtag #HELPASISTEROUT to gather advice for these folks.
Ayrton De Craene@ayrton · Code @ Product Hunt
What were some lessons you took from Google and Foursquare to successfully running your own startup?
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@ayrton I learned a lot from everywhere I've worked about the pluses and minuses of being big vs. being small. As a marketer, it was a dream to work at Google and release our marketing to millions and millions of people. But there are limitations to that as well (you can't build as a strong of a voice, you can't take as many risks). At Foursquare, I learned a LOT about product since we took so many chances with our product, and the importance of listening to your customers and building only what they say they want.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Allison thanks for joining us today. What have been some of the biggest hurdles you had to overcome with Tech Ladies?
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@ems_hodge Hi Emily! Our biggest hurdles are around being a bootstrapped company. Although we've been profitable from day one, being bootstrapped means having to problem solve creatively, plan carefully, and make all the right bets at the right time (pressure!). On the flip side, being bootstrapped means we've had to be laser-focused and prioritize on an almost daily basis. Those are good things for any community and any business, so it's both a blessing and a challenge.
ladycollective@ladycollective · Dean, Grace Hopper Program
Happy Thursday, Allison! As a Tech Lady, I'm definitely invested in the group's success. What are some ideas you have in the pipeline that you don't currently have the resources/bandwidth to execute? How can the TL community can help?
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@ladycollective We have so many things that we see a need for that we wish someone separate from Tech Ladies would build. The biggest is a widespread events calendar for events for women in tech. Thank you for being in the community!
Fadeke Adegbuyi@fadeke_adegbuyi · Social Media & Content Marketing @Doist
Hey Allison, I love the Tech Ladies community! At what point did you transition from working on Tech Ladies as a side project to building this business full-time? Were there any validating moments or experiences that gave you the assurance to make that transition? What advice do you have for others on taking the same leap?
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@fadeke_adegbuyi I left my job at Google last October to work on Tech Ladies full-time. I always tell people with side hustles to "let your business tell YOU when it's ready to go full-time." This simply means, when you have more work coming in than you can handle in the hours between 6pm-midnight, then you're probably ready to go FT. Another thing to watch for is when you're saying no to great opportunities coming in just because of time. Once that started happening with us, I knew I had to give it my full attention. Using these two things as a guide also removes the tendency to glamorize what working on your side hustle full-time will be like (spoiler alert: it's probably 1,000,000 million times harder than your day job, but also awesome.) Go for it when the time is right!
Kunal Bhatia@kunalslab · Co-founder & Design Lead @SlidesUp
Thanks for doing this, Allison! What's one thing nobody told you about scaling a community? Also, how do you adapt the principles/vision for why you started the community as it grows larger? Partially asking for a friend 🙂 @ArgoBatts
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@argobatts @kunalslab Before I got into this, I would have never understood how important it is to have admins on the group as well as a stringent Code of Conduct. A community with a few hundred can self-manage, but once you hit several thousands, you really need safeguards in place, and humans to moderate. We have found that the principles/vision for starting the community scales quite nicely. We build solutions around the things we see our community members need, instead of what we think would be cool, and that's worked out well for us.
Julie Delanoy@syswarren · Design at Product Hunt
Hi, Allison! First of all, thank you for creating Tech Ladies. I love the community and how positive it is. Now here is my question: what’s the best advice you ever received?
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@syswarren Thank you for being part of it! I think the best advice I've received is this quote: "If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done." And then wash and repeat. :)
Julie Delanoy@syswarren · Design at Product Hunt
Joyce Kung@seeroflights · Student @ UWaterloo
Hey Allison! What's been your favourite event/memory/post since founding Tech Ladies? I've been working for my university's Women in Computer Science community this summer and a member of Tech Ladies since April, so I just wanted to see what your favourite experiences have been!
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@seeroflights My favorite moment so far has been when we were asked to write a report for the United Nations, with the help of input from our community. That was such an honor. I have moments where I tear up almost weekly reading stories of women in the community who found their dream job through it, made a new friend, or successfully negotiated a raise at work with the support of the community. It's really rewarding to see these positive experiences unfold. Thank you for being part of it!
Abadesi@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
Hi Allison! Huge fan :) What do you think all diversity groups can do better to work together / consolidate? I'm a member of lots of women in tech groups and feel like the scene is quite fragmented.
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@abadesi I think all the groups serve different purposes and that people will gravitate towards the ones that best fill their needs. Tech Ladies loves partnering with the other groups that are in the diversity space, we NEED each other and we will make change in the industry by forging partnerships.
Arun Sathiya@arunsathiya · Happiness Engineer, Automattic
Thanks for doing this, Allison! What were the struggles you faced during your initial days into starting this? How did you end up as a 15K army?
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@arunsathiya The biggest struggles have been around growing too fast. The volume of requests was so high in the beginning, that we struggled as a small team to fulfill it all, but we hired fast and dealt with it. I learned quickly that I personally have to say no a lot more, and prioritize tasks that will lead to the biggest benefit for the most members of our group. That was HARD to learn but I think we're cruising now. We grew to 15,000 members by word of mouth, our newsletter, our events, and our active online community. Thanks for you question!
Courtney Bolton@courtneybolton · UX | Design, research, innovation.
How can I watch this conversation? Is there a video version somewhere?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@courtneybolton hi courtney, this is a text based chat. If you have a question for Allison, type it here and she'll be able to respond within this hour 👍🏻
Courtney Bolton@courtneybolton · UX | Design, research, innovation.
@courtneybolton I see, Thank you!
Chad Whitaker@chadwhitaker · Product Designer at Product Hunt 👋
Why do you think tech is still struggling with diversity issues? How can we as a whole industry, do better?
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@chadwhitaker Oops I answered this but looks like my reply may have gotten lost. Here's a link! https://twitter.com/allisonveron...
OCTO@octoboard
This is a totally cool area to be involved in Allison! Kudos! We want more women in tech. Tell us what are the top 2 or 3 most amazing things that you have learned about women in Tech. Give us a story that would inspire women to go tech - we will share your stories and help spread the word.
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@octoboard Women in tech have been through a lot more than people realize. I don't think a lot of people understand how much hurt and pain can happen at work (for all genders). Everyone thinks their horror stories about work are unique to them and they're not! So one thing I've learned is that women in tech are insanely resilient to stay in an industry that is really challenging for us. The good news is that things are getting better and will continue to improve.
Songalong@dsong19 · Operations, Hybriflow
Allison! Thanks for hosting this session. Quick question: Bootstrapping is rough. In your experience, from concept to production, what is the hardest part? (building fan base, promoting product, sales, getting parts ready...etc) Thanks!
Allison Esposito@allisonveronica · Founder of Tech Ladies
@dsong19 The hardest part of bootstrapping in my opinion is simply having patience. There are so many things that money can speed up, but finding creative ways to accomplish these things without $$$ + learning to practice patience on your way towards growth is extremely rewarding. But also, SO HARD!