International Women's Day is one of the most important days celebrating women's social, political, economic, and cultural achievements, underlying diversity, inclusivity, and equality. This year, we have prepared a special interview about women in tech with one of our startup founders, Katya Ivanova, a co-founder and CEO at AssetFloow.
Born in Bulgaria, Katya is a high-integrity, energetic leader known for delivering proven results and creating successful outcomes that drive organizations forward. She has extensive experience in the private sector in leadership, management, innovation consulting, sales, business development, and strategy.
Since 2016, Katya has lived in Portugal, where she co-founded a Portuguese tech company: AssetFloow, the first and only behavioral AI software for high-precision sensorless measuring and analyzing how shoppers move and interact with products in a physical store. (more about AssetFloow)
Showing how motivation and determination lead to personal and professional accomplishments, Katya is an inspiration for not only women in the tech industry.
AISI: When and how have you come to the idea of establishing your own tech company?
Katya: I am a firm believer that technology can make our lives that little bit easier, giving us all the freedom to live, learn, and work in the best way possible. Technology has huge potential for innovation and to be a real force for diverse industries. That's why I got excited about the idea to create AssetFloow, to go for a challenge that was never fully solved and is crucial for retailers.
AssetFloow was founded in March 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal, by Ricardo Santos as CTO and myself as CEO. We met in our previous companies. Ricardo was the CEO of a company providing a video analytics solution for surveillance cameras, and I was matching corporates with startups to solve challenges in retail. I introduced Ricardo's company to a retailer in Germany, and we started working together. After a while, Ricardo joined me on an adventure to create a unique and innovative solution for retailers. From my experience working with innovation departments of retail companies, I never found a solution for the current problem AssetFloow is solving.
AISI: Could you tell us a bit about your journey towards success? Have you ever experienced any difficulties as a woman?
Katya: I personally have been fortunate enough never to have dealt with any sort of discrimination during my career. The most I have experienced is from conferences to meetups. Being the sole woman (or one in a sea of many men) in attendance can be overwhelming. From the men who have no idea how to talk to women to just feeling like an outsider to the "boy's club," it's not always easy being female.
AISI: Based on your experience, what would you recommend to other women interested in pursuing a career in your field?
Katya: There has never been a better time for women to be part of the technology industry. The industry is realizing the impact of diversity on the community at large and on companies' bottom line.
So I would just say to go for it! I find more often than not, women don't think that they can get into the tech industry, but there are a lot of different roles and skills needed and so many different things you can do within the industry, so my advice is to create your own table!
"Pulling up a chair to sit at the table is great advice if you want to be a part of someone else's legacy." I want to encourage women to build their own tables. Just go for it, follow your passion, give your best and enjoy the results!
AISI: Do you have any female role models that inspire you in your professional life?
Katya: I have to say, I don't really have anyone that I'd really consider a "role model," simply because I'm not the type to have role models in general. I am very intrinsically driven and tend to do things because there aren't many already doing it.
While having a relatable role model is invaluable, they're sometimes absent for those of us who are statistically underrepresented in tech. On our way to a more diverse future in tech, we need brave individuals who can have their own path, inspire positive change, and promote diversity in the tech industry for generations to come. I believe that we can be our own role models as women in tech!
AISI: If you could give your past self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Katya: Never doubt yourself, and stay true to yourself! Don't let others tell you what you can't do. Don't let the limitations of others limit your vision. Always believe in your infinite potential. You are unique, and that's your superpower, with unique talents for unique purposes. Remember it!