Founder Interviews: Nina Patkai of StayInTech

Meet the founder who is determined to help women Stay In Tech.

Davis Baer: What’s your background, and what are you working on?

Nina Patkai: I’m Nina Patkai, the founder of StayInTech a recruiting website for diversity in tech. So far we have partnered with DuckDuckGo, Asana, Digital Ocean and many others, to promote their dedication to diversity.

My background is in engineering, and I have worked in both academia, and tech industry for several years. I’m a Software Developer / Engineer, originally from Finland but nowadays living in Germany.

I studied mechanical engineering as a major for my master’s degree, and then did a year of PhD studies at the University of Cambridge in the UK. However, I realised I did not want an academic career, and thus went to work for the tech industry. I love product management, and coding, but also all the other things that go into building a startup; SEO, analytics, usability testing, user interviews, research, and the list goes on. Working on StayInTech enables me to do all the things I love.

Currently, over 40% of women leave tech in the middle of their careers. Our goal is to reduce that number and help companies increase the diversity of their workforce.

The underlying idea is that tech professionals can use StayInTech to find out more about what is the purpose, mission, and values of companies. From there they can aim to make more informed choices about how they could find employers who offer meaningful work in a diverse environment.

Screenshot of the StayInTech homepage

What motivated you to get started with your company?

The reason is two-fold. Firstly, I have worked as a software developer for several years at various technology companies, and have seen many of my colleagues resign. People often look for work in a mission-driven company that values diversity. For them the ping-pong and free beer at work was not enough, but they wanted to work at an inspiring company with a social impact. Finding a company with values that matched their own was challenging. This is why we want to help companies share their mission, purpose, and values with job seekers. So that job seekers can aim to make more informed choices about how they could find employers who offer meaningful work in a diverse environment.

Secondly, we believe people who build technology should represent the people who use it. Thus helping diverse talent to stay in tech is crucial.

What went into building the initial product?

I started out by creating an MVP as a side project and added company profiles one by one. In the beginning, the process of adding company profiles wasn’t automated as it is currently. We conducted lots of user testing, created surveys, and interviewed companies in person.

Before that, I had built also many other side projects online, so the process of creating an MVP was quite quick.

For a long time StayInTech was a side project, but due to lots of positive feedback, and still seeing a problem that needs to be solved, we are now dedicated to growing StayInTech into a global recruiting website for diverse talent.

How have you attracted users and grown your company?

We have never paid for advertising, we have grown with SEO, direct marketing, press, and word-of-mouth. We often get emails from companies who are interested in joining our mission.

Before we launched the MVP, we already contacted companies, had lots of phone calls with them and explained what we want to do. Therefore we had many companies onboard already before launching.

We are still very much at the beginning of what we want to do, having just automated the process of creating company profiles, we have lots of other features in the pipeline. For example, one of our advisors is a Data Scientist, interested in later matching companies values with candidate values.

What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

We have a freemium business model, creating a basic employer profile is totally free. But we are working on enabling companies to create a premium employer profile, with advanced features.

What are your goals for the future?

Our goal is to grow StayInTech into a global recruiting website for tech professionals and companies. We are working on automating lots of the processes, so that we are able to scale the business

Our dream is to see thousands of tech professionals who finally find a workplace or team where they fit in and use their full potential in that environment.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

In the beginning, we had lots of Skype calls with companies, which took lots of time. It was extremely valuable, to hear the problems and issues HR managers face with the recruiting process, but getting customers one-by-one via phone calls is not scalable. That’s why we automated the sign-up process, and companies can themselves add a company profile easily.

Screenshot of StayInTech.com

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Getting users one by one doesn’t scale, but it has enabled us to do lots of user research which is very valuable.

Nowadays we try to automate as many things as possible so that we can scale the business.

What’s your advice for entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

We started to talk to companies already before building the MVP, that was very useful and enabled us to get companies interested in us before launching.

In case founders are not technical I recommend they learn about at least those technologies that are relevant to their business. We have worked with non-technical people who have changed their business after completing a couple of coding courses. Even if they weren’t using those skills in their everyday business they did communicate better and were able to approach technical challenges with more understanding and empathy.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you are looking to hire, please add your company profile on
StayInTech! It’s free and easy to do. In the near future many more updates are coming, including a multitude of cool tech companies sharing their values, mission and purpose they are willing to work towards. Stay tuned and stay in tech! And, please leave a comment if you have any questions or feedback.

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