Nicole Yeary is the founder and CEO of Ms.Tech, a Chicago-based company focused on seeing more women start and scale companies. Yeary and her team encourage women to develop entrepreneurial management thinking, educated risk-taking, creative problem solving, and inspirational, supportive leadership for their teams, organizations, and businesses through education, mentorship, networking, and information sharing.
She has spent over fifteen years in leadership positions with Fortune 500 companies in various capacities such as Direct Sales, Marketing Services, and Learning Development and several years helping build a startup within a corporation that collectively became the most profitable unit.
Yeary now invests her time advising and guiding the next generation of startup companies through a strong partnership between Ms.Tech and 1871 as the co-facilitator WiSTEM, a curriculum-based program that connects women to capital, community, and technology resources.
Since 2010, Yeary has made it her mission to see more women capture the resources needed to build scalable startup companies. In just under a year, Ms.Tech was recognized in “Crain's Guide to Networking” as one of “Six Great Tech Groups, practically guaranteed to commune with the scene's best and brightest!"
Yeary delivers and shares her expertise by serving select advisory boards. She is a sponsoring member of the United Nations, UN Women, Social Enterprise Alliance, Internet Society, and OpenID.
Yeary has been recognized as one of Chicago’s “Top 100 Innovators” by Tribune and awarded "Prominent Woman in Tech" by the Illinois Technology Association and made the 35 Under 35 Making an Impact list. She is among Today's Chicago Woman's list of the 100 Most Inspirational Women. Yeary was awarded MAFA Masters Honoree as an “Industry Entrepreneur Emerging Leader,” and recognized as a 2016 Women Tech Leader by Chicago Woman Magazine.
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Transitioning Into Entrepreneurship
Having The Heart To Start
Five years ago Nicole Yeary was having difficulties getting her health tech startup off the ground. But in talking to her female colleagues in startups and tech, she found she wasn't the only one facing obstacles.
So she started a Facebook group, where women could discuss their side hustle projects, and have a safe place to discuss tricky challenges like an investor inviting them to their home, or what analytics platform was worth the money. Response from the community took off, and five years later Yeary is head of Ms. Tech, an organization that offers mentorship, resources, and meetups for women in the tech around the country.
In this interview, she talks Ms. Tech's transformation over time, the tough conversations women in tech often have, and the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for women founders. Plus, she tells us how a Big Gulp opened the conversation for WiSTEM, the women founder program at 1871.
Karis talks with Nicole Yeary of Ms. Tech about how she started the conversation over WiSTEM at 1871, plus how she turned Ms. Tech from a Facebook group for side hustles to a powerful organization for women in tech.
1871 announced a second group of women founders to participate in WiSTEM, a program for early-stage technology or technology-enabled companies.
“We have a stellar group of women,” said Nicole Yeary ?, founder of Ms. Tech and co-facilitator of WiSTEM. “I am excited for every woman in the group, how they all work together and what they will be able to contribute to the community overall.”
The part-time program, set to begin March 17 and last 16 weeks, focuses on topics including lean business canvassing, legal accounting and pitch training, as well as meetings with mentors and investors.
The WiSTEM program, announced in 2014, graduated its first class of members in January.
The new class, announced Thursday, will include 18 women from 13 companies.
When Nicole Yeary couldn’t get her healthcare startup funded in 2011, she launched a Facebook group for women facing the same challenge. As she added offline education and networking events, Ms. Tech, co-founded with Lisa Russell, was established. Ms. Tech’s goal is to help women “start and scale their businesses through training, resources, mentors and valuable connections.”
“There are women out there doing really awesome things,” Yeary told Blue Sky. “How can we help them realize them?”
In July 1871, Chicago announced that Yeary would serve as a co-facilitator to WiSTEM, its new women-in-tech effort.
Yeary is an SEO specialist and the first HootSuite Certified Professional in Chicago. She spent seven years with UnitedHealth in Indianapolis and has more than 15 years of experience in marketing, team management, and new business development.
Yeary is a member of the Clever Girls Collective, Internet Society, and Social Enterprise Alliance. She also moderates online courses with The American College of Financial Services.
We won’t see flying cars in 2015. But we’ll continue to see advancements in health care technology, wearables, smartphones and more.
A panel of four tech-industry leaders gathered at Google Chicago on Thursday night to discuss trends, new gadgets, and the 2015 tech horizon. Blue Sky reporter John Carpenter moderated the event, hosted by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Organizers said 86 people attended.
Panelists were Ted Souder, Google’s head of industry, retail; Nicole Yeary, founder of Ms. Tech; Linda Maclachlan, CEO of YJT Solutions; and John Flavin, executive director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange at the University of Chicago. They shared insights on what businesses need to know to prevent being left behind.
Panelists said the Internet of Things, the sector for interconnected devices, will lead to big advancements in health care. Data analytics and predictive technologies will enable more personalized medicine.
Yeary: Focus on women-founded businesses. Yeary does this by asking her Ms. Tech team to stay knowledgeable about the latest female entrepreneurs. “Tell me about the women who are building companies that are game-changing, anywhere from 3D medical printing to telemedicine.”
Future of business
The next wave of entrepreneurs may have new technologies at their disposal, and collaboration will rule.
Yeary: If you have an idea or product, the ability to build and sell online opens opportunities. “It’s great to see now that we’re not allowing regulation to keep us from innovating.”
Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune
Support and networking give women in tech a lift
The more experienced panelists — GeneXus co-founder and CTO Veronica Buitron, ProofX CEO Dima Elissa and Dough CEO Kristi Ross — answered most of the questions while Francesca Kress, founder and CEO of fashion app Tippity, listened and observed. Deep into the conversation, Elissa extended an arm to Kress, encouraging her to get involved.
Kress, 26, then gave the audience advice about networking.
“You only need a little experience to help someone below you,” Kress said.
Kress’s words and the support of her peers embodied the theme of the event, co-hosted by Ms. Tech, GeneXus USA and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and designed to uplift women in the technology community. About 40 people, mostly women, participated.
Panelists answered questions from moderator Nicole Yeary, co-founder of Ms. Tech, and from audience members. Topics included the power of networking and the ways to use communication to get what you want.
Kress said networking has helped her get guidance she needs. Plus, it has helped her provide value by connecting people with similar interests, she said.
“To help, it’s (about lending) your network,” Buitron said.
Ross said networking can produce jobs for seekers as well as candidates for open positions. She said she prefers job applicants referred by her contacts.
Panelists also emphasized the effects of communication. Buitron said women, perhaps more than men, need to be aware of how their words are received in male-dominated industries such as technology. In business settings, she said a considerate delivery can make the difference between selling an idea and turning off a client.
“It’s delivery, dealing with people and being respectful,” Ross said. She said “help me understand” is an effective and respectful way to find out what a client needs.
Elissa suggested practicing what you might say, perhaps in front of a mirror, in a difficult situation.
Men get to know their business partners and learn how to talk to them, and women can improve in that area, Elissa said after the talk. She said a better understanding of one’s audience and a thoughtful approach can help empower women.
“I think women have a new forum to become part of the entrepreneurial canvas,” Elissa said, “but it’s got to be balanced against how they represent and present themselves.”
“There’s at least six (female founders), and we tend to find each other and sometimes it might be a Friday afternoon, and we’ll sit at the same coworking table together and discuss ways we can send each other business or collaborate. I don’t know that that happens in other coworking spaces. Grind from the beginning knew it was important to be diverse and kind of invited us in to experience the space.
“Like a terrarium, you have all these elements that play into the ecosystem. Diversity to me is the exact same kind of element.”
Nicole Yeary, founder of Ms. Tech, Grind (Antonio Perez / Blue Sky / 2013 ) By Kate MacArthur, Special to Blue Sky April 29, 2014, 5:30 a.m.
When Nicole Yeary couldn’t get her health care startup funded in 2011, she launched a Facebook group for women facing the same challenge and a new focus. As she added offline education and networking events, Yeary and Lisa Russell co-founded the startup as Ms. Tech. In February, they established it as a membership organization. Yeary shares lessons about getting investors and why women shouldn’t take an “us versus them” view on men in tech and startups.
By James Janega, Blue Sky Reporter Oct. 23, 2013, 9:20 a.m.
Nicole Yeary spent 10 years selling health insurance by telephone, learning to navigate the complex pathways of the health care landscape. The job didn’t last after the economy tanked, but the knowledge she gained about how to get the right medical coverage seemed more pertinent and valuable than ever.
An entrepreneur at heart, Yeary crafted a plan to build an online business that matched customers to health plans, and she set out to find venture capitalists and other investors. They didn't seem interested.... cont.
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