Covid-19 has decimated some business sectors, but it has arguably also changed the way we work for the better.
The pandemic normalized flexible working and has accelerated the take-up and importance of virtual programs. That’s of huge benefit to startups and underrepresented groups in the tech industry, including women.
While virtual programs can’t change the status quo overnight, the flexibility and support they give enables women to work on their own terms and access benefits more easily.
“There’s a much more nurturing environment for startups now because of the online platforms and programs we see today,” says Hansa Iyengar, Principal Analyst, Digital Enterprise Services at Omdia.
She says that the move online has been happening gradually before the pandemic, as workers embrace online communities and virtual programs.
“Global teams have been becoming more dispersed … over the last 10 years. Now there are more people working across time zones. It was happening because things like meetings and all hands were happening virtually, but it has accelerated it very quickly,” Iyengar explains.
“Some things that we expected to take five to six years are now business as usual. Technology has definitely empowered people.”
Here are just a few ways the fully virtual Oracle for Startups program helps the founders who are juggling home lives as busy as their work lives.
Virtual programs are particularly important during the pandemic, which is having a regressive effect on gender equality, as they help women access support for their business when and where they need to. We all know the drawbacks of "always on" culture. Many of us may feel compelled to engage in digital detoxes and use fancy apps to help us disengage from the seemingly endless inquiries as our jobs infringe on our personal time and space. The flexibility of a virtual program can be a game-changer for female founders juggling a full time job, family, or any other major commitment.
“It is a very good aspect of today’s world that we can work from anywhere. Having that flexibility no matter who you are is helpful,” says Iyengar.
Oracle for Startups has been virtual since mid-2019, intent on supporting founders anywhere in the world, with easily available benefits ranging from a 70% discount on Oracle Cloud to technical support, and mentoring from experienced executives.
A recent report by Atomico revealed that 42% of women reported experiencing discrimination while working in the European tech industry. Oracle's startup program is open to startups anywhere in the world, from any background. If you are a B2B or B2C startup, with a large addressable target market, you're in.
Iyengar believes online programs help democratize opportunities for startups and “provide access to new ideas globally. You can even collaborate with people.”
The majority of founders and investors are men, and walking into a room as one of the few women can be intimidating. Virtual programs like Oracle’s make networking easier, especially thanks to Market Connect, which opens doors for scaling startups. From a well-placed article, to a seat at the table with a potential customer, qualifying startups can access Oracle's pool of global customers, products, and marketing outlets.
Female founders in Silicon Valley and cities across the world will be spoilt for choice when it comes to networking events and similar opportunities, but anyone living outside these tech-hubs are at a huge disadvantage.
Virtual programs like Oracle for Startups help reach underserved markets, giving founders the tools they need to make their business dreams a reality. Oracle’s Market Connect helps introduce startups to its enterprise and medium-sized customers, while events like Startup Idol help founders share their story with industry analysts.
“Virtual programs will definitely become more important because they are a fantastic way to reach a wider audience,” Iyengar says. They are “shifting the balance from a few selective hubs to a more balanced spread across the globe,” she adds.