North Saanich, Vancouver Island/Coast
Locelle Digital Inc.
North Saanich, Vancouver Island/Coast
Locelle is an employer-funded global platform created for women in the workplace. Through relevant professional development opportunities like our successful mentorship program, Locelle delivers personal and professional growth to women at work.
In Business Since 2018
Best Community Impact
What motivated you to start your business and what core cause do you support?
Loneliness and lack of representation in the tech industry were the main motivators for me to start Locelle but along the way, the dedication to creating equitable workplaces for women is what has helped the business grow and thrive. I personally support gender diversity in male-dominated industries - not just as an overall representation, but in leadership because that is when real change will happen. Ruth Bader Ginsberg said that, "women belong in all places decisions are made." This is what we believe in and this is what we are working towards. Locelle is an employer-funded global platform created for women. With mentorship and other professional development opportunities, Locelle delivers personal and professional growth to women at work.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Community Impact award?
Locelle is a bootstrapped tech startup that is helping women globally get the network they need but most importantly, the guidance they need and when they need it. Through it's recent pivot to 1:1 mentor matching, Locelle is partnering with tech companies across BC and beyond to deliver personal and professional growth to women at work. Our mission is simple: attraction, engagement, retention of women as well as development of diverse leadership pipeline. We are part of the solution in creating equitable workplaces for women, especially at a time when women are being disproportionately affected due to the global pandemic. As an immigrant and minority led tech venture that has successfully been bootstrapped and has grown significantly through the pandemic, Locelle is one of the fastest growing tech startups in BC and continues to put Victoria, BC on the national map through features in the Globe and Mail, Science World, and having been accepted into Microsoft Accelerator out of Seattle. Locelle is also leading by example when it comes to diversity and inclusion with hiring women in minority from China, India, Pakistan and Brazil - even in tech positions like software development.
Best Immigrant Entrepreneur
Please tell us your personal story and about your business. How you started, and how you have overcome challenges.
Born in raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Humaira was always told what she could do and who she could be. At the ages of 15 and 17, she was engaged to men she didn't know as that was the status quo. She escaped those marriages through perseverance and education. Humaira got into Software Engineering and maintained highest GPA in Karachi, until her family moved her to Toronto, Canada. There, she learnt that not many women pursued education in STEM fields and found herself to be one of the few women in a class of 160. She eventually completed her Bachelors in Communication Studies where she could learn about the culture and language and be amongst other women. Humaira has worked in the tech industry for over a decade and frustrated with how few women make it into leadership positions and most drop out mid-career, she launched Locelle 3 years ago. Locelle started out as a networking app for women to easily connect with peers and other women leaders in the tech industry and through a pandemic pivot, launched a 1:1 mentor matching platform connecting women with leaders for guidance on the go. At a time when women were being disproportionately affected, her employer-funded platform took off supporting women in tech. It is through the lessons she learnt when faced with adversity throughout her life, and challenges with being a woman CEO of a tech startup, that she pulled her company through even stronger. Locelle is now profitable venture, employing 6 people and working with forward-thinking tech companies like StarFish Medical, Schneider Electric, Terramera and more. A mother of two young girls, Humaira is on a mission to create equitable workplaces for women. She has been written about in the Globe and Mail, was featured in BetaKit as 30 women to follow in tech and featured in a women in STEM exhibition at Science World amongst 6 other trailblazing women. Her story is that of resilience, perseverance, tenacity and brilliance. More people (especially young girls and women) need to hear her story so they too can dream to be in a leadership position in a male-dominated industry and do well.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Immigrant Entrepreneur award?
It is not easy for immigrants to establish themselves in a new country where the barriers seem endless - from language to capital to access to meaningful network, let alone for a woman to establish herself as a CEO in the industry. There are less than 5% women CEOs in tech and less than 1% are women of colour. Humaira's vision, ambition, execution, passion and dedication, all have proved to be powerful and inspiring as she continues to put her company, her city, her mission on a global map. She is an inspiration to young girls and women and is setting an example of how diverse leadership and ideas can not only make the world a better place, but provide employment to underrepresented communities and generate profits. She has been able to build a strong team of women (even in engineering roles), and is showing how women led and owned tech companies can break stereotypes and help make the world a better place through the work they do. This video sums up my life well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kAwoB6YRWA&feature=youtu.be
What motivated you to start your business, what challenges did you overcome?
I started Locelle in Feb 2018 to easily connect with women in leadership to tackle loneliness. Over the past few years, I have learnt that one of the biggest challenges women face in the workplace is lack of mentors and sponsors, so Locelle has since pivoted to provide mentor matching through employer-funded programs. Having worked in tech for over a decade, with a background in Software Engineering, I know first hand how challenging it is to be the only one or one of the few. I wanted to create a platform that helped women in male-dominated industries navigate challenges and explore opportunities so we can not only survive but thrive and advance into leadership. Product-market fit has been the biggest challenge. With over 2,000 users on the platform, Locelle did not monetize as well until the pandemic hit. The pandemic really helped us dig into our data and learn that we could provide instant value to women working in male-dominated industries through tailored mentorship and guidance from other women leaders. Since the pivot last summer, we have grown our team to 7 people as well as found a business model that will allow us to be profitable within a few months. I have also learnt that product-market fit is achieved when clients not only use your product/service, but pay for it and also refer it to others. Our clients are reputable tech companies in BC - StarFish Medical, Schneider Electric, RingPartner, Terramera, Vanhack, Codan Communications and more and none of the companies we onboarded have dropped.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Innovation award?
At a time when loneliness, gender diversity, women in leadership are all important world topics, Locelle is providing a solution to all these challenges facing our world today. Through a unique "guidance on the go" approach, the matching platform is creating easier access to leaders with knowledge and shared experiences at a time when it's needed the most. We have already started to see results and can't wait to double down in 2021 to reach many thousands of women and continue to grow revenues and be part of Canadian success story.