Inspiring Women in Tech - Jules Coleman

Written on: 30 August 2016

Written by: Amanda McCombie

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Young women in the UK have the skills, drive and talent to build successful careers in the digital sector and here at Baltic we are passionate about encouraging more girls to consider a career in IT.  Key to ensuring more women are inspired to start a career in tech is positive role models who influence and are Inspiring others to succeed.

We have invited some of our leading ladies from the sector to share their stories and talk to us about their lives, success and their personal experience of climbing the career ladder.  This week’s woman in the spotlight is Jules Coleman, founder of Hassle.com.

Can you give us a Description of who you are and what you do?

I’m Jules Coleman, founder of Hassle.com, an online marketplace for domestic cleaning with my friends Alexandra Depledge and Tom Nimmo. I was a management consultant with no tech experience but I taught myself to code (Ruby on Rails) to build the business. We raised $6m in funding from one of the biggest Venture Capital firms in the world, Accel Partners. They were the original backers of Facebook and other huge tech firms. We expanded the business across the UK, Ireland, France and Germany and had almost 100 employees and 3,500 cleaners on the platform at our peak. We sold the company last year for $35m and I am now an Entrepreneur in Residence at Index Ventures another world leading Venture Capital firm.

What was your very first job?

Working in my parent’s newsagents. I think the hourly wage was something like £3.10 an hour so not exactly a get rich quick scheme but it gave me an appreciation for earning a wage and starting to build financial independence.

Why work in Tech?  What advice would you offer young adults who are currently considering their future?

The pace of change in the last 30 years has been staggering, entire industries disappeared or been born out of seemingly nowhere in that time. Technology is at the forefront of that change. The last 20 years have been dominated by the internet and the smartphone, the next 20 will see AI, AR, VR and Big Data become just as important. Technology is about so much more than just coding and I think whatever your passion or skillset there is a place for you in tech.

There are not enough young people leaving school and college considering a career in the IT sector, why do you think this is?

I think a lot of people feel daunted by the prospect. Some people equate being good at Maths in school as a pre-requisite to even thinking about a career in tech. They maybe think if you are not a rockstar developer helping SpaceX send a rocket to Mars you are not good enough to be part of the industry. That is just not the case. Good technology is about solving real problems people are facing. If numbers aren’t your thing maybe looking at becoming a User Experience Researcher, a Visual Designer or a Product Manager are the more suitable roles for you within the tech industry.

How do you think we can encourage more females into technical job roles?

I think a lot of it begins at school. Encouraging students that show an interest in technology, introducing them to people already working in the industry, giving guidance about the courses and education opportunities available. Doing a computer science degree is no longer the only route of entry. Whilst its true women are a small minority in the industry they are just as capable technically as their male counterparts. There is literally no reason a young female student should feel like she ‘can’t’ flourish.

Who inspires you and why?

I’m not sure I have a single point of inspiration but I do love it when people dream big and try and tackle huge problems. They may not succeed but often they change the world more than anyone thought possible along the way. For example Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX. He made his initial fortune with PayPal nearly 20 years ago. He could easily have sat back on his fortune and had an easy life but instead he has ploughed everything into two hugely ambitious projects.

If you could go back and offer your '17-year-old self’ some career advice what would it be and why?

I would tell me self to trust my own gut instinct more. I wanted to do a Computer Science degree but I was told by a well-meaning but misguided career counsellor that it would be a waste of my skills and that I should do an English major instead. I didn’t really listen and ended up doing an Economics & Finance major but it is still a regret that I didn’t persevere and do Computer Science. However things have a way of working themselves out and I still ended up in the tech industry just through a slightly more roundabout route.

Favourite gadget?

Has to be the iPhone. It has only been around for less than 8 years but it has just fundamentally changed so much about how we interact with the world.  I went backpacking in 2008 just before the iPhone came out. It feels like a lifetime ago. I had a paperback Lonely Planet as my guide and an intermittent desktop computer as every other hostel as my source of information. If I did the same trip today I would have an almost constant connection to unlimited knowledge. I’m not sure that is necessarily a positive but it such a huge change in such a short space of time.

Favourite website?

I love vox.com for high quality journalism. It keeps me up to date on current affairs without sending me to sleep!

Favourite App?

Living in the very unpredictable UK, I really love Dark Sky. A weather app that gives real time rain updates. Never get caught out without an umbrella again!

What would your very first boss say about you know?

My first boss was my dad so I’m not sure!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Jules for taking the time out to answer our questions and giving us such a great insight into her career and life as an inspirational, woman in IT!

 

Amanda McCombie

Marketing Assistant

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