How to survive the tech start-up “brofest”

feature-nerds-90Kate Kendall, the founder and CEO of The Fetch – an online community for professionals to share and discover what’s happening in their city – has already learnt plenty of lessons since starting her business in 2011.


The Fetch – delivered in a bi-weekly email digest and daily via its social feeds – shares events, news, jobs and local profiles that are relevant to its subscribers across different industries, including the digital and creative sectors.


After quitting her job and selling all of her belongings, Kendall launched The Fetch in Melbourne, which has since expanded to eight different cities, including San Francisco and London, with two more to be added before the end of the year.


“I still classify it as a start-up in beta mode, so I guess it’s been fairly flexible and it’s grown quickly,” says Kendall.


Now based in both Melbourne and Silicon Valley, Kendall is often the sole woman at industry events amongst what she describes as a “brofest”.


“I never really used to see gender. It was only really in the last four to five years working in start-ups and technology that I really started to almost become a bit of a feminist and say, ‘This is not fair’,” she says.


Something Kendall learnt quickly was to stand her own ground and say what she believes in.


“You have to be much more assertive,” she says. “When I started out I wasn’t used to speaking out and embracing conflict. That was something I had to learn … I think as women we’re often too conditioned to thinking it’s about being nice.


“I think a lot of women aren’t confident enough. It’s often not an innate thing, we’re just taught to be certain ways … Once they’re through that we see a lot of women thrive.”


With no business plan to begin with, growing The Fetch has been about “one foot in front of the other” for Kendall.


“I think a lot of new businesses and start-ups get lost with too many ideas but not enough execution,” she says. “I always say doers are better than talkers.”


And putting one foot in front of the other has worked.


In the last five months The Fetch has grown by 70%, has 65 people working within its network and now reaches close to 30,000 professionals.


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