Halebury’s Female Founders blog series celebrating International Women’s Day: Kathryn Parsons, Co-founder & Co-CEO Decoded
In honour of International Women’s Day, Chairwoman and Founder of Halebury Janvi Patel interviews female entrepreneurs she has met and been inspired by in her journey as a successful female entrepreneur. In this final piece, to round off a week of speaking with some truly amazing businesswomen, Janvi interviews the trailblazing Kathryn Parsons, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Decoded. http://decoded.com/uk/
When did you launch Decoded?
Decoded was launched in 2011. It began with a mission impossible. In 2011 the idea that anyone would want to learn to code, let alone that you could teach people in a day was beyond belief. However we saw a need, a fundamental disconnect between the ‘specialist programmers’ who build the digital world with code, and the project managers commissioning work and the leadership teams navigating their business through an increasingly digital economy. Decoded was established to help fill this gap.
It was from these grounding values that our first product, Code_in_a_Day was created.
What does Decoded do?
Decoded’s mission is to spread Digital Enlightenment to the masses. Empowering anyone to feel like they can be part of this world, taking everyone behind the screen, removing the jargon and the huge levels of fear and misunderstanding about technology.
We believe we have created experiences that transform people’s perceptions about technology. Today, we take people with zero knowledge and understanding and take them to Digital Enlightenment. We’re proud to deliver on that again and again.
How has the business grown? Has this been in line with expectations?
We started out with one core product; Code_in-A-Day and now have four (Data_in_a_Day, Hacker_in_a_Day and Tech_in_a_Day). They are the four pillars through which we believe we can Decode the digital world.
We have offices in London and New York and looking to expand our footprint to the West Coast of America and Australia.
To date we have trained thousands of people stretching from start-ups to CEO’s of multinationals. A huge range of businesses have come to us across technology, entertainment, retail, fashion and government, from Google to Swarovski, from Disney to the IMF.
We’ve worked across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, popping up in over 35 cities in this year alone.
We have grown in-line with are expectations and more and 2015 is planned to be a big year of expansion for us.
What does your ‘standard’ working day consist of (if there is such a thing!)
There is no ‘standard’ day at Decoded! I could be preparing for a talk at 10 Downing Street, meeting with clients taking our courses or sitting down with our developers to discuss new products. I have a jam packed diary, but it’s important to always make time for the team. I have weekly catch-ups with all departments and am forever checking all our internal Slack channels (a messaging system we use at Decoded to openly discuss everything affecting the company).
I did a total email detox last year and would highly recommend it to anyone.
What, or who, has been your biggest inspiration?
In terms of female business women, Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. She turned $5,000 into $1bn while retaining 100% ownership of her business. However, the people who have inspired and mentored me range from my co-founders, my mother, a 14-year-old coder, everyone who works on the Decoded team, our alumni, to all the female businesswomen I have met through The Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award.
What role does technology play in your life? What couldn’t you be without?
Technology plays a huge role in my life! It is my life!
If you could go back in time and tell your former self lessons you have since learned that could save time/angst/money in your entrepreneurial career, what would the first lesson be?
Dream big. Anything is possible. Surround yourself with people who share your vision and don’t stop believing in yourself and your product.
What was the biggest challenge when you started Decoded?
I am learning every day. How do you set up a business? Launch it in the US? Build an amazing team? Ultimately I have learnt to stay true to your vision, values and culture and cherish it.
Technology is this huge open, welcoming, creative environment, yet it feels exclusive, niche, the preserve of the few, and that’s something I am determined to change.
What change/support would you like to see introduced to support/encourage female entrepreneurs?
I’ve worked across and have exposure to a huge range of different industries. I truly feel technology is a great place to be a woman right now. The speed of growth can allow you to define your own culture of business and it’s a place where huge value is put on the quality of your mind and skills.
In the world of tech, there are too many stereotypes that really put girls off. Encouraging teachers and parents not to reinforce these stereotypes is so important. Women have a proud history in computing, with Ada Lovelace inventing the whole idea of programming, and Grace Hopper inventing the first compiler.