IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Elizabeth Tweedale
On March 8, 2021
Elizabeth has always straddled two worlds – in university she was both president of the computer coding society and also captain of the cheerleading society - straddling two worlds that would never usually collide. She has worked as a computational design specialist at several architectural offices, including Foster + Partners, where she was part of the team responsible for the code behind the moving walls of Apple’s HQ. Elizabeth wanted to help excite other girls about coding and teach them that it was both fun and cool. With her passion to motivate and educate children and experience in tech, she launched Cypher in 2016 after moving to London.
In addition to launching Cypher – one of the UK’s leading coding camps inspiring boys and girls aged 5-12 years old to learn to code, Elizabeth has written and co-written six books, her most recent focusing on teaching children Python. She has also written and patented the code for her and her husband’s business, GoSpace.
What would you love to share to encourage other women to start their own business?
One of the main differences I’ve seen between men and women – both in entrepreneurial success and within tech specifically – is the levels of confidence. Despite women’s clear abilities and skills, they often lack the confidence and support to go for a venture that might appear to be ‘risky’. I would love to see more women gain the confidence to start companies, go for the big idea! Undoubtedly, there will be many hurdles to overcome – I struggled to be taken seriously when raising investment for a previous business as a female CTO – but by staying true to yourself and not lowering your own standards for anyone, you’ll be able to stick to your values and create an incredible business that can change the world.
What are your 5 top tips for entrepreneurial success?
No one can do it ‘alone’ – you have a support network of friends, families and industry connections. Tap into that wealth of knowledge and expertise
Think fast and trust your instincts. It can be a quick-paced world, whichever industry you’re in and you need to be able to rely on the expertise and insight that feeds your instincts
Create a business you’re passionate about. If investors and future employees can understand why your idea is so exciting and important then they will feel that excitement as well
Always challenge yourself. We only succeed and innovate by facing challenges and overcoming them
Take care of yourself and your team - they will drive your business forward - aim to create an environment where everyone is looked after (including yourself) - this will help to avoid burnout
Who are the 5 women who inspire you the most?
My all-time hero and constant inspiration would have to be Ada Lovelace, known as the ‘first computer programmer’. At a time when it would have been highly unusual for women to be interested in mathematics, she defied conventions to follow her passions and vision for technology
My grandmother, Rose, a nurse who gave up her career to bring up children and perhaps because of this, was the biggest supporter I know of for encouraging women to go back to work after having children. She ardently believed in the transformative powers of education and practiced her core conviction on a daily basis – that it’s never too late to learn and that motivation and experience transcends age
I think that Kamala Harris has become a modern day inspirational figure, becoming not only the first black, Asian-American and female Vice President. As someone who is also in a male-dominated industry, I appreciate what she’s achieved not only for herself, but future generations
Considering my background, I have to include Grace Hopper, the ‘Queen of Code’ into this list. As one of the first programmers, having that female role model in my own career helped to build my confidence in the industry
Not to sound too cheesy, however my team is an absolute inspiration to me and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have at Cypher without them. We employ many working mothers and their skills in juggling home and work life so successfully are what drive us forward. Having this support network among women is so important.
What is your favourite saying/inspirational quote?
Although not from a renowned technology genius or famous person, my favourite quote would have to be from my grandmother - “do your best and let them say”. It speaks to me because there are so many ways you can interpret it. Specifically, as a woman in tech and starting my own company, I’ve faced people who may have doubted me but I know as long as I stay true to myself, then it doesn’t matter what they say.
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