Techstars Startup Weekend Plymouth

Introducing Carly Britton, Mentor for November’s Startup Weekend

Introducing Carly Britton, Mentor for November’s Startup Weekend

Recently, we got to (virtually) chat to Carly Britton, one of our mentors at this November’s Startup Weekend. Head of Client Services at VUALTO, Carly is a strong advocate for enabling girls and women to think about careers in technology. A part of the Startup Weekend community from the very beginning, Carly encouraged the CEO of Vualto, Camilla Young to be a judge at the first ever Plymouth Startup Weekend, and has been involved ever since!

Carly is a Women in IT Advocate of the Year 2020 and was a winner of TechWomen100 Awards 2019 and Venus Awards 2019, for the Inspirational Women in STEMM category.

Read in to hear more on Carly’s amazing background, thoughts on being a mentor and the Startup Weekend going virtual.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background, and your career in Plymouth...

My career in tech started around 14 years ago after I graduated from Marjon’s in Plymouth. I worked in various different industries until I started at VUALTO just over 8 years ago. I joined the company when it was a startup as a Webcast Engineer. I rapidly found a passion for developing client relationships and within 8 years I have managed and developed four key teams: Managed Clients, Technical Support, Network Operations Centre (NOC) and Quality Assurance (QA).

At VUALTO we build video streaming solutions for major broadcasters – it’s a fast paced and fun place to work with an awesome company culture. Over the last few years, I have won two awards for my work in tech: Women in IT Awards Advocate of the Year 2020 and TechWomen100 Awards 2019.

Q: You founded GIRLCODE, an amazing platform aimed at closing the gender gap in tech by teaching girls how to code. Was this something you came up with on your own, where did this idea come from? How did you develop it?

One of my main frustrations in my career was the lack of women in the industry. I would talk to my female friends about my job and I would always receive the same response; ‘I don’t understand what you do, I am not technical’. The women I spoke to almost had this nervous intimidation type feeling at the thought of tech. Which I found crazy because I was so passionate about my career and technology really excited me. I felt like I was having this awesome career in an amazing industry and women were simply missing out.

A few years ago was probably my lightbulb moment where I thought right, I need to actively do something to change this. I got together with a few female colleagues and we started to brainstorm how we could help close the gender gap in the technology space. We knew we needed to target girls early enough before they make their GCSE choices and spark some sort of interest, so that they consider a career in technology. That’s when #GIRLCODE was born.

Having female role models is key to changing girls’ perceptions on the stereotypes, so being a female talking about my career is as important as actually teaching them to code. I relocated to Bath last year and now run #GIRLCODE in both Plymouth and Bath.

Obviously, due to Covid I had to rethink how I could still teach coding. I had a bunch of micro:bits and I decided to pivot and create ‘Coding with Carly’ for both girls and boys. I hand delivered the micro:bits ahead of the sessions to the students and then taught the sessions remotely using Zoom. It has been a huge success; it was challenging and amazing. The children loved it – as did the parents!

Q: This startup weekend is virtual, do you think this is actually a good thing for people looking to startup a STEM business?

I think this is just the way it is going to be now! It has been a huge wake up call to many businesses who spend thousands on traveling to visit clients, exhibitions, and training etc. It can all be done online, and it's actually more efficient, cheaper and accessible to more people. Of course, it’s really nice to see people face to face and build up a relationship that way, but because we can’t we have adapted to this ‘new’ way. I think the Startup Weekend going virtual is absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait to be a part of it.

Q: What does being a mentor at the Plymouth Startup Weekend mean to you….

Being a mentor is all about helping future founders find their own way. It’s not about dictating or lecturing it’s about supporting, encouraging and offering tips and tricks from your own experiences.

Q: Your top piece of advice for anyone thinking of joining the startup weekend…

Absolutely go for it! It’s going to be heaps of fun, you have an opportunity to gain more knowledge and skills and make some new friends along the way. The great thing about startup weekend is that the mentors and judges are there because they want you to succeed and help you on your journey.

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