The tech industry is constantly evolving, and one of the most significant shifts in recent years is the increasing importance of having a balance of female founders. As more women enter the tech workforce, they are challenging the industry's traditional gender norms and bringing new perspectives to the table.
To celebrate International Women's Day, we sat down with one of our portfolio's female founders, Diana Saarva, the co-founder and CCO at Miros, who has been disrupting the tech industry for over 10 years.
In the interview, we explore Diana's journey in tech, the challenges she faced, and get her advice for a new generation of women entering the field.
AISI: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Diana Saarva: I've been building and scaling e-commerce startups in the tech scene for over a decade. Before Miros, I co-founded one of the world's first virtual fitting room (Fits.me), which got acquired by Rakuten in 2015.
AISI: What initially sparked your interest in pursuing a career in the technology sector?
Diana: My interest in technology sparked while studying in one of the leading STEM high schools in Estonia, where, at the age of 15, I learned programming languages such as Java. At that time, it was one of the only schools to do so. I was one of only 100 pupils selected in Estonia, so I was thrilled to have this unique opportunity.
I have always been very interested in problems and how things work. And this is where the first interest came. We had labs, advanced math, and physics classes, so I think the problem-solving at school sparked my interest in technology because I don't come from a tech background — my mother is a fashion designer.
AISI: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges women in tech face? Have you ever personally experienced any?
Diana: Diversity in tech companies is still a challenge. Most tech companies are male-dominated, and it affects the overall team dynamics and communication. Many females often come to rapid-growth companies where decisions must be made quickly. And if they are not experienced, they might get frightened in male-dominated teams.
AISI: Why do you think it's essential that more women join the tech industry?
Diana: For the same reasons more women are needed in politics, they are needed in tech. Women bring balance and new perspectives that benefit all of society, not just the male half of it. Balance is key to everything.
AISI: What's the best professional advice someone has ever given you?
Diana: I have a friend who's a very successful entrepreneur. One piece of advice he gave me is that the most important thing is long-term resilience.
Because what happens, especially with young entrepreneurs, is they go into this bubble, and they work, work, work, but they treat it as a sprint. It's not a sprint; you need to maintain long-term resilience. You need to prioritize and understand it's a marathon. That has helped me a lot over the years.
AISI: Has your career in the tech industry changed your personal goals in any direction?
Diana: Yes, it has. My career has allowed me to be financially independent and live in different parts of the world that I would not have imagined possible as a child.
It keeps your mind very young and agile.
AISI: Based on your experience, what advice would you give other women just entering the tech industry today?
Diana: What happens is your focus shifts somewhere else. So, you start to look away. I compared myself with others in the same field, but they had a much longer history in the startup world. It creates noise, and then you don't focus on what you have to do to make your company successful.
Interested in more interviews with women in tech? Read our interview with Katya Ivanova, the CEO and co-founder of AssetFloow, from last year's International Women's Day.