How to succeed in tech: StateZero Labs’ Tazz Gault and Katie Mills share their tips
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Last year, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Tazz Gault and Katie Mills, directors and co-founders at StateZero Labs.
A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?
Last year, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Tazz Gault and Katie Mills, directors and co-founders at StateZero Labs
Tazz Gault, director and co-founder at StateZero Labs
Tazz has spent the majority of her career in brand, strategy and marketing across multiple verticals for corporates and SMEs, including adtech, law, finance, e-commerce and design. She also led the European rollout of Martech accelerator, Collider. Previously establishing her own publishing business, she’s since been on the founding team of 3 startups, primarily focused on market entry strategy. Tazz has now mentored well over 200 startups, primarily in blockchain, AI, adtech, finance, tech-for-good and government. Originally a journalist, she’s now a regular speaker in the tech world, seen at VivaTech, General Assembly, The Business Funding Show and The Corporate Startup Summit. As Co-Founder of StateZero Labs, she’s at the forefront of blockchain technology, challenging its use cases and putting founders first.
What got you interested in technology?
Technology for me has always been about community; about shaping connections and making a difference in society. I’ve always been driven by people and saw a huge opportunity to help shape the impact of technology whilst remaining true to our humanistic needs. Once I realised the need for humanity to still thrive within technology – after all, we still buy from and sell to humans – it was a clear choice for me.
My background is really diverse, and I guess quite unusual for someone now working in tech. In fact, I’m a huge advocate for educating the industry on what’s ‘needed’ to be involved in this space. It’s not just ‘women in STEM’ we’re after – it’s incredible minds that can help craft the impact technology will have on industries for the better.
Growing up, I didn’t sit still and knew what I wanted from a career at a young age. That meant at any available opportunity I was working, creating or building something; I founded my first profit-making business at 18, freelanced my whole way through university, and spent my final year working full time in London, whilst writing my dissertation on my two-hour train commute and getting my degree. It was a huge obstacle for me to learn to accept my age, and to be proud of the fact I’m young but have worked hard to be where I am now.
I learnt quickly to adapt my skills to new environments, which is why I’ve gone from working as a journalist to being on the founding team of three startups, to helping and supporting hundreds of startups in their growth strategy and scale, to founding StateZero with my incredible co-founder Katie.
Did someone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?
I’ve had plenty of the classic experiences, but haven’t we all? I’ve heard the “can’t have a pay rise because you’re younger than other team members”, and I’ve heard the “here’s a new job title to keep you quiet, but we’re not going to give you any training, support or extra pay for the new workload you’re taking on”. I’ve never let it shape me, and I’ve never let it hold me back. It’s only encouraged me to push harder.
A day in Tazz’s life
I am co-founder and director of StateZero Labs, focused primarily on our strategy, brand and marketing. We’re a blockchain lab for startups utilising the technology for enterprise, offering up free cash, community, office space and a bespoke three-month business programme. My co-founder, Katie, is the machine behind all of our operations and programme work.
Of course, no day is ever the same, but is often taken up with planning and executing ideas around the next steps we’ll take as a business. I’m driven by the vision, mission and purpose we’ve created as a brand, and use that to help craft ideas around wellness, inclusion and go-to-market strategy, for both us as a brand and our startups.
We’ve got two key teams in our business – Programme and Marketing – and we all work closely together.
My diverse range of previous experiences allows me to make informed decisions at StateZero Labs. I used to put pressure on myself to conform to what I thought I needed to do and be, through a fear or people questioning my ability. I now realise how lucky I am to be in this industry with such a different professional background, and absolutely love learning from others’ equally diverse experiences. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have had the drive or confidence to found StateZero with Katie, which is definitely the thing I’m most proud of.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
I would absolutely love to see more women in tech – of course I would. But, I do think we actually have a wider issue at play here for diversity and inclusion as a whole. Why aren’t there more BAME entrepreneurs, or why do we forget the conversation around age-inclusion?
What advice would you give to women who want a tech career?
The advice I would give to a woman would be the same as what I would say to a man: you do not need to conform, you just need to be.
Women in STEM
We need men and women in any conversation for change to happen, for diversity in opinion, in mindset and in skills. If more women worked in STEM, just like any other underrepresented group, that’s exactly what we’d see.
Katie Mills, director and co-founder at StateZero Labs
Katie has spent the past 7 years in the startup ecosystem across the UK, Europe and LatAm. With over 5 years of experience running accelerators across multiple tech verticals including the well-known cybersecurity lab, Cylon, her expertise lie in operations, logistics and business strategy. She has also been a huge champion in changing the status quo when it comes to collaborations between startups and corporates.
She’s been part of over 70 investments into early stage tech companies, with many going on to raise 6 and 7 figure sums, and has worked within a number of industries including government bodies, financial institutions and security. As Co-Founder of StateZero Labs, she’s at the forefront of blockchain technology, challenging its use cases and putting founders first.
What got you interested in technology?
In all honesty, I wasn’t really interested in tech at a young age. My interest came after I left university and I started to work with government and early-stage tech companies in developing countries. For me, the real interest came when I saw how tech can have a real impact on the developing world and how it helped change people’s lives for the better. That’s when I decided that I wanted to be in the tech industry permanently.
I came from a pretty average middle-class family. I was the first to go to University in my family where I studied languages. Like most people in the early stage tech scene, I fell into it after university. My language skills opened up doors abroad which then led to me to working in tech innovations and policy for government in multiple countries in South America. From that point on, all my opportunities came from my network.
Once I left South America and came back to London, I went to a large corporate to set up their in-house innovation strategy and team, seeing innovation from the other side of the fence. After that, I went to the world renowned cyber security accelerator, CyLon, where I was Programme Director and worked with some of the most exciting startups in the cyber world. I was seeing blockchain start to come through due to its security properties and became fascinated by the tech and its potential.
Once I met Tazz, she had also come across blockchain in the adtech/martech space and we decided we wanted to provide a proper platform for early-stage B2B businesses to really harness the potential of blockchain technology, hence the start of StateZero.
Of course, my family have always been my biggest support system and will continue to always be there when I need them.
A day in Katie’s life
So I am currently co-founder of StateZero Labs. We are a dedicated lab for B2B blockchain applications. We provide capital, connections and community to help create the best environment for founders to thrive and businesses to succeed. My role is focused on the business programme we provide to the startups for the 3 months they are with us, and continuing to develop our investor and general community outreach. As well as this I focus on the overall strategy of the business alongside my co-founder Tazz.
Starting StateZero is definitely what I’m most proud of. It’s great that when I speak to the entrepreneurs and founders we support, I can now genuinely speak from a place of understanding having gone the process myself. No-one can ever quite prepare you for the ups and downs of starting your own business.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
I believe this issue stems from an education level. Coding and general entrepreneurship should be a fundamental part of our academic curriculum. This would then develop skills at a much younger age and provide the knowledge and support that is needed to start young girls thinking about careers in tech. I also believe we need to amplify the discourse around diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, to provide platforms that showcase exceptional talent within the industry, and highlight when individuals are excelling, including women! This would help to promote women in tech, and provide role models for younger women.
It’s great that the discussion around diversity is gaining momentum, however; women have only been in the working environment for the last century and the issue around inequality has been ingrained in society for thousands of years – women have always taken the role of homemaker rather than breadwinner. With this is mind, achieving true diversity and equality in industry is going to take far longer than one century. We have started to move the needle on the discussion but we still have a long way to go before we see a truly equal and diverse workplace.
What advice would you give to women who want a tech career?
Learn how to harness the skills you gain in everything you do and use those to your advantage. And remember NO just stands for ‘next opportunity’.
Women in STEM
It’s not just about more women in STEM, it’s about proper diversity and inclusivity. If we had that it would undoubtedly lead to further innovations, as with different backgrounds, ethnicities and gender comes a variety of different takes on solutions for both business and world problems.
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
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- The tech industry tends to lose women along the way. Change is underway
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