Cultivating Customer Understanding: Why Established Tech Companies Need Customer Discovery

Cultivating Customer Understanding: Why Established Tech Companies Need Customer Discovery

Remember Blackberry? Once a dominant force in mobile phones, they failed to adapt to changing customer needs and were ultimately surpassed by Apple and Android. This cautionary tale highlights the importance of customer discovery, even for established tech companies.  A study by Gartner reveals that acquiring a new customer can cost 5 times more than retaining an existing one.  Customer discovery is an investment that can pay off in spades by ensuring your product remains relevant and keeps your existing customers happy.

What is Customer Discovery (and Why Do You Still Need It?)

Customer discovery is more than just a fancy term for market research. It’s about fostering an ongoing conversation with your customers to understand their evolving needs and frustrations.  Here’s why it’s crucial even for companies that have been around for a while:

  • The Customer Churn Challenge: Did you know that according to bain, even a 5% churn rate can significantly impact your bottom line? Customer discovery helps you identify potential churn risks and proactively address customer concerns.
  • Staying Ahead of the Curve: Technology and customer expectations are constantly evolving. Customer discovery allows you to identify new trends and opportunities before your competitors.

Planting New Seeds: Real-World Examples

Here’s how some established tech companies used customer discovery to adapt and thrive during the pandemic:

  • Intuit (TurboTax):  Intuit didn’t just use customer discovery to improve tax filing features. They also focused on user experience.  In response to feedback about complexity, they introduced a simplified filing option.  During the pandemic, this focus on user experience proved critical as they catered to a broader audience filing for unemployment and stimulus checks for the first time.
  • Airbnb:  Airbnb leveraged customer research to understand the changing travel landscape during the pandemic. This led them to introduce “flexible search” and “longer stays” features, catering to the rise of remote work and domestic travel.
  • Dropbox:  Dropbox recognized the need for enhanced collaboration features through customer discovery methods like user interviews.  They responded by developing integrations with popular productivity tools, making Dropbox an essential tool for the remote work revolution.
  • Zoom:  Zoom’s constant focus on customer feedback allowed them to identify features critical for the remote work environment. Based on user needs, they prioritized video call security, ease of use, and integrations with popular calendar applications.  This data-driven approach kept Zoom ahead of the curve during a time of massive user behavior shifts.
The Customer Discovery Toolkit for Established Tech Companies

The Customer Discovery Toolkit for Established Tech Companies

Ready to breathe new life into your tech company? Here are some actionable tools to get you started:

  • User Interviews:  Have in-depth conversations with your customers to understand their current frustrations and unmet needs.  Focus on addressing their specific pain points related to your product or service. Ask questions like: “What are your biggest challenges using our product?” or “What features do you wish our product had?”
  • Customer Surveys:  Gather broader customer insights through surveys with a mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions.  Tailor your survey questions to address common challenges faced by established tech companies.  For example, you could ask questions about customer satisfaction with your current product roadmap or their openness to new features.
  • A/B Testing:  Test different product features and marketing messages to see what resonates best with your current audience.  Use A/B testing to validate your customer discovery findings and measure the impact of changes based on customer feedback.

Bloom Again: Make Customer Discovery a Priority

Customer discovery is a continuous process, not a one-time fix.  By regularly assessing your customer landscape and planting new seeds based on their needs, you can ensure your tech company flourishes for years to come.

Untapped Market Verticals: Innovation Over Saturation

Untapped Market Verticals: Innovation Over Saturation

In today’s rapidly evolving tech landscape, the pursuit of market innovation is akin to a marathon where the finish line keeps moving. With every breakthrough comes a new frontier, challenging businesses to continuously adapt and explore uncharted territories. In the realm of software development, this pursuit is no different. While established verticals like e-commerce, healthcare, and finance have long been the focus of innovation, there lies a vast expanse of untapped potential in lesser-explored sectors.

The trend is clear. According to recent research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, “more than 40% of software companies are increasing their verticalization efforts in existing industries and almost a third expanding to additional industries”. This growth creates a competitive environment where differentiation becomes increasingly difficult. However, amidst this competition, lies a wealth of opportunities waiting to be leveraged.

Today, we will delve into the concept of innovation over saturation, exploring the benefits of venturing into untapped verticals for software development companies. We’ll examine why diversification is crucial in today’s dynamic landscape, how identifying and targeting niche markets can drive growth, and the strategies companies can employ to navigate unfamiliar terrain effectively. Join us as we uncover the potential hidden within the unexplored verticals, and how embracing innovation can propel businesses to new heights of success.

Identifying Untapped Verticals

In a landscape dominated by well-established sectors, exploring alternatives can be a difficult proposal for a business. However, the process of diversification by identifying untapped verticals can show a promising growth potential, which needs a careful strategy to reach a favorable outcome. This often involves:

Market Research and Analysis

Conducting comprehensive market research is essential. This involves analyzing market trends, consumer behavior, and emerging technologies to pinpoint underserved or overlooked sectors by existing solutions. Utilizing data analytics tools and market intelligence platforms can provide invaluable insights into niche markets that are ripe for disruption.

Identifying Pain Points and Needs

Understanding the pain points and unmet needs within specific industries is crucial for identifying opportunity. This requires engaging with potential clients and stakeholders to gain firsthand insights into the challenges they face and the opportunities for innovation they will find. By identifying areas where existing solutions fall short, Nearshore development companies can uncover opportunities to create value and make a difference.

Assessing Competition and Barriers to Entry

It’s essential to assess the competitive landscape and identify potential barriers to entry. This includes evaluating existing competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and identifying gaps in the market that can be exploited. Additionally, understanding regulatory requirements, industry standards, and other barriers can help companies develop strategies to navigate unfamiliar terrain effectively.

Embracing Emerging Technologies

Innovation often thrives at the intersection of emerging technologies and industry-specific challenges. By staying abreast of the latest technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI), software development companies can identify opportunities to disrupt traditional industries and create innovative solutions tailored to the needs of untapped verticals.

In other words, by leveraging market research, understanding customer needs, and embracing emerging technologies, businesses can effectively identify untapped verticals with significant growth potential and seek fulfilling partnerships to exploit them accordingly. This strategic approach lays the foundation for successful diversification and sets the stage for innovation-driven growth in new market segments.

The Advantages of Diversifying into Untapped Verticals

However, the question remains: “Why?” In today’s business landscape, diversification emerges as a strategic approach that propels companies forward. However, this approach requires a careful planning process that enables businesses to expand their market presence, foster innovation, and gain a competitive edge. Some of these benefits are: 

  1. Reducing Risk: By expanding into untapped verticals, companies can mitigate the risks associated with overreliance on a single market or industry. Diversification spreads risk across multiple sectors, making the business more flexible and resilient to economic downturns, changes in consumer behavior, or disruptions in specific industries.
  1. Expanding Market Reach: Diversifying into untapped verticals demands that companies have an effective scaling strategy to access new markets and customer segments that may have been previously overlooked. This expansion of market reach not only increases the company’s customer base but also makes development partnerships critical, allowing them to take advantage of opportunities without stressing resources and the quality of deliverables.
  1. Fostering Innovation: Exploring untapped verticals fosters a culture of innovation within software development companies. Venturing into unfamiliar territory requires creativity, adaptability, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. This spirit of innovation not only drives differentiation but also positions the company as a leader in emerging markets and technologies.
  1. Gaining Competitive Advantage: Diversification into untapped verticals can provide a competitive advantage by allowing companies to differentiate themselves from competitors and capture market share in niche segments if they have the capacity to expand this way. By offering specialized solutions tailored to the specific needs of untapped verticals, Nearshore development partners can help businesses carve out a unique position in the market. 

But even with this approach, the proposition to diversify a business’ output can still be a tough decision to take. Embracing diversification as part of a broader growth strategy enables companies to capitalize on new opportunities and future-proof their business, but in difficult times, risk aversion emerges as the obvious choice. How can a company navigate this choice and ensure a positive outcome, even if the potential has not been explored yet?

Is a Calculated Risk Worth Exploring?

The pursuit of untapped market verticals presents a compelling strategy for innovation within the tech industry, particularly in cases where market saturation starts impacting the outcomes. This strategic shift not only diversifies revenue streams but also mitigates the risks associated with overreliance on the same products and niches, even if the question of resources and commitments doesn’t make this an attractive proposition.

Directing attention towards these less explored niches, however, does not necessarily need to be a gamble. Companies can effectively differentiate themselves from competitors and capitalize on emerging opportunities by leveraging their resources or seeking the correct partnerships to take on new opportunities.

By embracing innovation over saturation, companies position themselves as forward-thinkers, adaptable to evolving consumer demands and technological advancements. This proactive stance can enable a tech business to weather market fluctuations and maintain its edge.

As you navigate the decision to diversify your output, the untapped potential waiting to be harnessed in these overlooked verticals can offer a unique opportunity worth exploring. Embracing this mindset of innovation opens doors to new horizons, driving sustained growth and establishing your brand as a trailblazer in the ever-evolving landscape of the software industry.

Leading from Both Sides of the Keyboard: When CTOs Hold the Purse Strings

Leading from Both Sides of the Keyboard: When CTOs Hold the Purse Strings

For most software leaders, navigating the world of technology is already a demanding feat. But for a select few, the challenge extends beyond lines of code and elegant algorithms. These are the CTOs who also wear the CEO hat, balancing technical vision with the realities of financial stewardship. They’re a rare breed, and their unique perspective offers valuable insights for both aspiring leaders and those seeking the right nearshore development partner.

For a CTO-CEO, it’s a constant dance between two worlds. Their days are a blend of crafting robust architectures and scrutinizing budgets. Imagine building the future one algorithm at a time, while keeping a keen eye on the bottom line. It’s a high-wire act, demanding both meticulous planning and a healthy dose of calculated risk.

But when done right, the synergy is undeniable. Technical agility meets financial prudence in a potent mix. Decisions become laser-focused, aligning development goals with budgetary constraints. The CEO’s deep understanding of technology fosters empathy with teams, leading to a collaborative and efficient environment. Innovation flourishes when the architect of the code also holds the keys to the castle.

Think of Microsoft’s remarkable resurgence under Satya Nadella’s leadership. His ascent from software engineer to CEO wasn’t just a climb up the corporate ladder; it was a strategic move that fueled Microsoft’s transformation. Nadella’s fluency in both code and commerce allowed him to see the immense potential of cloud computing and AI, guiding the company to refocus its efforts and reclaim its position as a tech leader. His story is a testament to the power of having a CEO who speaks the language of both engineers and investors.

Collaborative Efficiency

Collaborative Efficiency

Imagine software development teams where code whispers directly to the CEO’s ear, where budgets aren’t just spreadsheets but blueprints for innovation. Companies with Brain CTO-CEOs, according to industry reports and internal case studies, report a remarkable 30% increase in employee engagement among engineering teams. Why? Improved communication bridges the gap between developers and leadership, fostering mutual understanding and trust. It’s like having a translator who speaks both the language of code and the dialect of the boardroom, ensuring everyone is on the same page throughout the development journey. This enhanced collaboration reduces friction, quicker decision-making, and a shared sense of purpose, ultimately leading to a happier, more productive workforce.

Faster Time-to-Market

In today’s hyper-competitive landscape, speed is king. Studies like the Harvard Business Review study highlight the advantage of dual-focused leadership. Companies with leaders who juggle code and cash are 45% more likely to successfully launch new products on time and within budget. No more missed deadlines or ballooning costs! The CTO-CEO’s understanding of both technical feasibility and financial constraints becomes a potent weapon, guiding teams to hit the market not just with groundbreaking ideas, but also with optimal timing and financial prudence.

Navigating the Challenges

Navigating the Challenges

The journey for CTO-CEOs is one of constant balancing. They must keep pushing for innovation while ensuring financial stability. It’s not always smooth sailing, and there are tough decisions to be made along the way.

For example, investing in tomorrow’s AI breakthrough might conflict with the need to optimize existing infrastructure today. And while exciting new technologies are tempting, staying within budget and resource constraints is crucial. Finding the right balance can be challenging, requiring careful consideration to avoid prioritizing innovation at the expense of financial responsibility.

Here are some specific balancing acts CTO-CEOs face:

  • Avoiding “shiny object syndrome”: It’s important to evaluate if the latest tech trend aligns with long-term goals before pursuing it.
  • Making smart “build vs. buy” decisions: Choosing between internal development and external solutions requires careful weighing of cost and benefits.
  • Embracing the “innovation paradox”: Breakthroughs are important, but so are stability and reliability in existing systems.
  • Solving the “people puzzle”: Finding talent with both cutting-edge skills and operational efficiency is key.

These are just a few of the challenges CTO-CEOs navigate. Understanding these complexities is crucial for steering their companies toward sustainable growth.

Scio: Partnering for Sustainable Growth with a CEO-CTO Mindset

Scio Partnering for Sustainable Growth with a CEO-CTO Mindset

We understand the unique challenges of navigating technology and business as a CTO-CEO. That’s because our leadership embodies this very perspective. Our CEO, Luis Aburto, is not just a seasoned executive; he’s also a passionate engineer at heart.

This dual perspective is the cornerstone of Scio’s approach. We’ve seen firsthand how combining technical brilliance with strategic financial foresight unlocks the potential for stable growth, smart innovation, and empowered teams. We’re not about quick fixes or fleeting trends; we’re about building long-lasting success alongside you.

Luis Aburto’s passion for both software development and entrepreneurship is woven into the very fabric of Scio. He built this company with a singular mission: to empower tech companies to bring their software ideas to life, faster and better. This deep understanding of your world informs everything we do.

That means:

  • Finding the right talent: We handpick top-tier tech professionals in Mexico and Latin America, meticulously vetted for both technical excellence and cultural fit.
  • Managing costs effectively: We leverage our experience and global resources to optimize your project pipelines and maximize your budget impact.
  • Creating a thriving tech environment: We foster a collaborative culture where your teams feel empowered to innovate and build amazing things.

Scio isn’t just a team of consultants; we’re your strategic partner, guided by the CEO-CTO mindset of Luis Aburto. We walk alongside you, understanding your unique needs, budget realities, and vision for the future. Together, we’ll turn your passion for technology into sustainable growth, one line of code at a time.

Together We Build: The CTO-CEO’s Collaborative Journey

Together We Build The CTO-CEO's Collaborative Journey

The journey of the CTO-CEO is rarely a solo endeavor. It’s a shared journey fueled by the combined efforts of engineers, developers, and countless others. It’s a reminder that even the sharpest minds need a team to translate ideas into reality. And perhaps that’s the true strength of the CTO-CEO: to foster an environment where diverse skills come together in a collaborative dance, building something bigger than themselves.

As Nicholas Negroponte wisely said, “Technology alone solves nothing. It’s the way we use it that matters.” The CTO-CEO understands this deeply. In their hands, technology isn’t just lines of code; it’s a bridge connecting people, a springboard for growth, and a canvas for shaping a better future. Their legacy isn’t just the product they deliver, but the way they unite a group of talented individuals towards a shared goal.

Moving forward, let’s remember that the key to unlocking technology’s true potential lies not just in individual brilliance, but in working together. Let’s be inspired by the CTO-CEO who encourages collaboration, not competition, and celebrates the harmony that arises when diverse voices join forces. Together, we can build a brighter future, united in strategy, and empowered to achieve.

Is the FinTech sector responsible for the financial education of its users?

Is the FinTech sector responsible for the financial education of its users?

Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez

FinTech has emerged as one of the most important aspects of the modern world, playing a crucial role in providing access to financial services and products to everyone and changing how we manage our finances. And there’s no doubt that FinTech apps and platforms have taken the financial world by storm, but as with anything, there are downsides to this popularity that are worth considering.


What exactly is the FinTech sector’s role in modern financial literacy and education? Does this industry bear any responsibility on this matter, or their participation amounts to just covering a marketing demand?

As our daily lives become increasingly digitized, more and more people are turning to FinTech solutions for their financial needs”, says Rod Aburto, Co-Founder and Service Delivery Manager at Scio. “From mobile apps that offer budgeting tips to online lenders that help individuals finance their businesses, FinTech companies revolutionized the way we think about personal finance. But as FinTech continues to grow in popularity, some are wondering whether they have a responsibility to provide financial education to their users.

On one hand, many argue that FinTech companies are simply providing tools and services that users can choose to utilize as they see fit. And just like users of traditional financial products can make bad decisions that lead to debt or financial instability, so can users of FinTech products. As such, these companies should not be held responsible for the financial education of their users. On the other hand, some argue that FinTech companies are responsible for providing financial education to their users. After all, these companies often market themselves as alternatives to traditional financial institutions, which typically offer their customers some form of financial education. Furthermore, many FinTech applications are designed for people who may not be familiar with personal finance concepts, making it even more important for these companies to provide clear and concise information about their products, so what happens when people use them without really understanding how they work? 

Poor financial literacy can lead to serious mistakes, like overspending or making poor investment choices, creating a lot of financial anxiety or even worse outcomes. So, while FinTech apps can be helpful, the users must adopt this technology responsibly, understanding both the risks and rewards before getting started.

Financial literacy in the FinTech era

Financial education has become an important complement to market conduct and prudential regulation and many countries have made improving individual financial behaviors a long-term policy priority”, says Simon Pearson of the Investment and Finance site HedgeThink. “In a world dominated by continuum technological advances, the efforts towards financial education shouldn’t be limited to economic affairs but rather focus on mastering the technology that will drive the financial mechanisms of the future.

So as FinTech companies increasingly play a role in our financial lives, it also has a responsibility to help educate people about personal finance, budgeting, and investment strategies, as well as the nature of the financial services they offer. We can break it down into the following categories:

1) Marketing. FinTech companies need to be careful about the way they market their products. In a rapidly developing industry like FinTech, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest marketing trends, but there are a few key principles that all responsible FinTech marketers should keep in mind. First and foremost, always be transparent about your product or service. With so many options available, potential customers need to know exactly what they’re getting before they commit. Secondly, don’t make promises that you can’t deliver on. And finally, always put the customer first, remembering that you’re not just selling a product, you’re solving a problem.

2) Security.  When it comes to FinTech, data security is essential. FinTech firms deal with sensitive customer data daily, so it’s crucial to secure it, making it accessible only to authorized personnel. But beyond that, it’s necessary to make it clear to the user what information is getting stored, explain why, and have clear means of communication and support if any serious problem arises. “FinTech firms and their customers are often targets of all kinds of attacks and frauds, so it’s important to have robust security systems in place to protect against these threats and inform the public of the potential risks involved”, advises Rod Aburto on the matter.

3) Communication. FinTech companies provide a valuable service to their customers by giving them access to financial products and services that they might not otherwise have. However, FinTech companies need to communicate with their customers regularly to ensure that they are providing the best possible service. Customers need to be able to reach out if they have any questions or concerns, and they also need to be kept up to date on changes that could affect their accounts. Good customer communication can help to build trust and loyalty, and it can also help to resolve issues before they become major problems.

The limits of FinTech education


However, beyond these good practices, it’s good to keep in mind that, while FinTech has made it easier than ever to access financial education, there are still some limits to what it can provide. For one thing, FinTech products can be a great resource for learning about financial products and services, but it can’t provide professional financial advice when it comes to making major decisions. These kinds of applications can provide people with the tools and knowledge they need to make informed choices regarding their money, but it is always best to speak to a qualified financial advisor that could provide a good outside perspective.  

Additionally, FinTech can be a great way to learn about personal finance basics, but it’s not always the best resource for more complex topics. Many people view financial education as a dry and boring topic, and with the rise of more and more FinTech platforms and applications, there are now more ways than ever to learn about money management, but a lot of the responsibility of making an informed decision and assuming the ensuing risk still rests on the shoulders of the customer, so seeking information with a trustworthy source is still the way to go. 

Despite these limitations, FinTech is still a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their financial literacy. This is still a relatively new industry, and it’s constantly evolving, which means that there are bound to be some growing pains as the industry matures. So, while FinTech can be a great resource for managing your finances, as a user it’s important to be aware of the risks and limitations of these applications; they are often created to offer a solution to a particular problem, but they are seldom meant to be the be-all-end-all of every financial necessity. 

And as a company, having an adequate ethical framework to approach the creation of a new FinTech platform, informing users and customers clearly of what they should expect, what they can’t do, and the basics they need to understand to make the best use of the product is a must. With these considerations, FinTech companies can help make sure that their products are safe and helpful for everyone.

The Key Takeaways

  • FinTech applications and software are becoming more and more relevant to our daily life, making it easier than ever to get started on a new financial road.
  • However, this abundance of options and innovations also brings new questions to solve: is financial education becoming a responsibility of FinTech?
  • Even if that’s still an open question, there’s no doubt that most FinTech companies can adopt practices (in Marketing, Security, and Communication) to ensure their products are not misunderstood or used incorrectly.
  • And finally, a deeper understanding of finance still falls on the shoulders of users, who should seek knowledgeable and trustworthy people to make sure they use any application or platform to its fullest.

Scio is an established Nearshore software development company based in Mexico that specializes in providing high-quality, cost-effective technologies for pioneering tech companies. We have been building and mentoring teams of engineers since 2003 and our experience gives us access not only to the knowledge but also the expertise needed when tackling any project. Get started today by contacting us about your project needs – We have teams available to help you achieve your business goals.

“We are starting to shift our place in the world”: An interview with Senior PO Gilda Villaseñor about her volunteer work with young women in the software industry.

“We are starting to shift our place in the world”: An interview with Senior PO Gilda Villaseñor about her volunteer work with young women in the software industry.

Even if the software industry is open for everyone with talent and dedication, women historically had to overcome more challenges to carve their own spaces. So we had a chat with Gilda Villaseñor about her work with Technovation, and the motivation to bring more women into this profession.

I was fortunate enough to never notice the idea that math was for men, and women should focus on areas like the Humanities. So when I was in middle school, I started playing chess, and I think that gave me a certain mindset that helped me identify or generate some complex scenarios in my head, and analyze them carefully.

I trained that part of my mind often, but without thinking of a specific professional area to apply it until my mom signed me up for a computer workshop. Both of my parents are doctors who worked at the IMSS (the Mexican healthcare system), and they had a coworker in the IT department that was always telling them about how computers were coming strong, and as they always had been curious about everything new, said: “Well, let’s get her into it to see what happens”.

I didn’t put any resistance to the idea, to be honest. Back then, my siblings had a very strong affinity for art, and they were always doing something related to it. It was something I wasn’t interested in at all, so I was the one that never had anything to do on weekends, and I joined that class.

Well, it turned out that I was good at the logic needed to write programs; they taught us how to write very simple procedural programs, but I realized that I understood those things quicker than all of my classmates and made things work faster when I was writing code. In the beginning, it was just a hobby, though, until I started high school and realized that I was better at the Computer class than the rest of my friends, so when I was finishing school, I decided I wanted to study something that could take me out of the city, and among my options were Computer Science, which was available at the Tecnológico de Morelia, but I wanted something different.

In the beginning, everything was fine, but during my last years of college and my first professional years, I started to notice very few women doing the same things as me, although I didn’t question it until I started hearing the stories of other women in the field. And it was when I reached a certain level when I noticed how my knowledge and experience were sometimes questioned without reason, and I wasn’t advancing as easily as my male colleagues, finding certain resistance to my authority when I started climbing up the hierarchy.

Also, having to decelerate my professional career when I chose to exercise my maternity, and the difficulty of having to juggle my job with taking care of my kids took a toll, as I couldn’t keep my rhythm the way some of my male coworkers could, which is part of the reason why I wanted to change things for myself and any woman working on this industry.

I started my volunteer work in an international program called Technovation. I was there between 2016 and 2019 until it had to stop because of the pandemic, and although I’m not active on that initiative right now, I am collaborating with others that try to bring more women to technology, business, and even writing, where we do women groups helping each other to break the stereotypes and current models, seeking to attain better conditions.

I have always had the impulse to seek a way to improve the conditions of everyone around us, from how we treat each other, to what happens during the professional growth of my colleagues. What started my dedication to this was a women-exclusive event I attended once, where all of these women talked about the challenges and problems they faced at work when they start to climb up in the ladder, and that’s how I started to realize many things I never questioned before, like how few female managers I’ve had, which I believed were just the way things were.

These testimonies, and seeing what other women were already doing in similar organizations and volunteer programs, as part of a greater initiative to support women, fired me up and made me want to get involved. 

Some other female colleagues and I started seeing what was happening in other cities of Mexico, and started to investigate what we would do here in Morelia; we were a group of professionals seeking a way to start changing things, looking for a way to join initiatives directed at women in software.

So that next year I found the international initiative of Tehcnovation with Maria Makarovaand other women showing us what that program was about, what they did, and the things they were achieving with girls between 10 and 18 years old, and everything around that.

We brought this program to Morelia and started with some girls from residential care and private schools, and the year after that we worked with girls from an association that helps kids in underserved communities, helping them obtain an academic education from elementary school until they are ready for college.

We were surprised by the high level of engagement they showed and integrating them into these kinds of efforts is very satisfying for them, and us as mentors. You learn a lot from this labor and it’s gratifying to see kids and young women acquire new skills, especially when they see the possibilities of technology, and the communities we build for and by women.

The biggest challenge I saw was that, since this was an international program, most of the resources we used were in English, and although we do the effort to translate everything we could, some of the books and materials were still in another language, so we had to do some additional things for the girls that couldn’t understand it, or they learned to translate, using what they had at hand, like online translators and such, to learn.

Outside of that, everything else was a great collaboration, with some sponsorships from the local government, which lent us some spaces to do these workshops, and help from Universities and local companies, like Scio, BlueBox, IA Interactive, and Fundación Amamba A.C., in the form of facilities and coffee breaks for the events.

I saw a lot of collaboration and the desire to be part of a change for women, where talented people are always needed, and in most cases the resources exist to keep pushing forward these kinds of efforts, bringing lots of institutions to collaborate and be part of the change.

Back when I started, most of the interactions I had at work were with men; if the teams I collaborated with had 10 members, there would be a single woman in there at most, so I normally worked just with men. But in the last decade, I’ve been noticing a difference; I see more women in development teams, or the software industry in general, not only in departments that require soft skills but in high positions in a company that used to be solely men.

A lot of it has to do with the benefits that are starting to be offered in the industry, with spaces open for us. Now is very fortunate to have the option of working from home, and the women that are having kids now, have the chance to focus better on the very demanding task of raising children.

So, things like these had to do with necessities exclusive to women, but that has an impact in a whole context, and I see how they are starting to change. There’s a lot left to do, but benefits and offerings like that are becoming the norm in the industry.

Technovation is about inspiring and orienting young women to follow a technical career, showing them they can. That empowers them immensely, and through workshops about technology and business to create, launch and market products, essentially teaching them how to create a start-up, teaching them to be independent, and enjoy what they do.

More everyday situations are covered in talks and events targeted towards slightly older women. For example, when a woman decides to get married, for some it’s not easy to balance a marital and professional life, because this prejudice about women having to devote themselves to their homes still exists, and even more when motherhood and children are involved. These topics get touched more on the writing groups I mentioned, where the stories we write we reflect on ourselves, the world we navigate, and we confirm that most of the times we are positioned in a disadvantaged place, but we work intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to overcome these situations, creating sorority ties between us.

We are starting to shift our places in the world. If you compare past and new generations, I think we are already changing our self-perception, how we see each other, and how we accept ourselves. What’s next is bringing these changes to our workplaces, fighting for places with more favorable conditions for women, taking into account our necessities, our specific contexts, opening spaces for us to communicate and collaborate.

In the tech industry, right now there are a lot of incentives and resources being invested, and for women, it’s a place to reach economic independence, with the option to move freely and choose for yourself, which is why I want to encourage more women to try this area.

The women from Mentoralia, the association that organizes the Technovation program in all of Mexico, are starting to develop other similar workshops, and it was with them that I started to bring these efforts to Morelia. I always had their support, and that opened plenty of doors for me to meet incredible women from all over Mexico, which is incredible and it’s a good incentive for anyone looking to join as a volunteer, as it is something we are passionate about, and we build networks of female friends and colleagues that have a good time together while changing the prejudice and stereotypes linked with software, trying to bring a future where women never have to question if they have the space to join in an important professional area such as technology.  

“The best way to keep in touch with both worlds”, a chat with developer Nati Lara.

“The best way to keep in touch with both worlds”, a chat with developer Nati Lara.

The field of software development has a lot of roads, some are more challenging than others. And for Nati Lara, a Front-End dev currently living in Denmark and mom to a toddler, these experiences have been incredible. How does remote work and software impact her job as a mom and developer?

By Scio Team

Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living and I tell them I’m a software developer, the response almost always is “You must be very smart!”, because this preconceived notion of this job is that only the more intelligent persons can do it and, well, no. 

It’s like when I see a carpenter doing their thing, and I say to myself “I could never do that”, but if it really interests you and you want to make your ideas into reality, it’s within everyone’s reach.

I started programming back in High School when a teacher helped us learn to use Delfi by designing a simple website. It was a very interesting exercise, having to do an entire page by myself; it was the final project of the semester and everyone did whatever they wanted, but I got really into it.

It was a gripping challenge because the teacher didn’t explain much, so we had to make with whatever solution and tools we had on hand, and I liked that a lot. Delfi already has some basics, so we didn’t have to start from scratch, writing zeroes and ones, which changed my ideas of programming. I used to think it was a black screen with green text on it like in the movies, so it was a different experience.

I used to like computers a lot as a kid, my parents got their first one when I was 10 years old, but I didn’t know anything that had to do with programming. I was curious about interfaces, not as much as the inner workings, and that’s what I specialize in today.

That’s why I do Front-End in iOS, I like things where I can see the result. I don’t get too much into Back-End stuff, where I don’t have a clear vision of how things are working, I prefer working on things where I can see the immediate result.

As a developer, the best feeling I get is when I can put my ideas in motion, and make something useful out of them, building a work of art without using my hands directly, so to speak. I like working with others, knowing everything about every part of a project, and contributing in a specific direction. The client I’m currently working with makes vegan and vegetarian food; the chefs here run the kitchen and develop recipes that avoid meat, trying to show that the absence of it still results in a good dish. 

Their clients subscribe to the app I’m maintaining, and they get pre-made meals for three days, all vegan. There are many ideas involved with this project, like showing how much CO2 is being saved by avoiding the consumption of meat. I like it because, beyond the food, it tries to show the individual impact we have, and it even changed my conception of vegan and vegetarianism, which has changed since I work here and now I want to do my part.

The road here wasn’t a straight line. I originally studied Art and Digital Animation, because even though I always had some affinity for STEM stuff, I also liked creativity, drawing, and graphic design, but I didn’t want to go completely in that direction. So I tried something that had a bit of everything, but I ended up realizing that I liked it a lot, but maybe I wasn’t as good at it.

At some point, I started developing web pages with a friend that wasn’t very good at programming, but skilled at designing, so we started taking freelance jobs where I did the technical stuff and she did the visual part of the project.

That is how I ended up pursuing a Master’s degree in Software Development because I found it the best way to keep in touch with both worlds. I’m a developer, and I like having an opinion on everything visually going on during a project; when doing a website, I like to make sure everything lines up, looks good and works well. Even if I don’t consider myself the best designer, I like to pay attention to the details of it by programming.

For a degree like this, a proportion of 30% women does not sound like a lot, but it is, even if women are the most prone to abandon it before finishing. In Digital Design it was more balanced, around 50/50 or so, but here it was a noticeable difference. I think this ratio holds in most engineering careers, and in our culture at least, more women go for careers in Humanities like Arts or Social Studies, and a lot less in STEM.

My dad was a teacher, and he always raised us close to the sciences, so it wasn’t an issue for me, but my parents did prevent me from trying things like sports, especially soccer. I mean, I still don’t play it, but I also never had the opportunity, even if my dad somehow planted the seeds of interest in sciences like math.

As a female developer, though, I have never felt out of place or made feel less, although I’ve never worked full time in Mexico. I currently live in Denmark, and so far I have been the only woman in the Tech team of both companies I have worked at.

There were more women at school, that’s for sure, but right now we are fifteen people in the Development department, and to be honest, I like it that way. A lot of owners and entrepreneurs are feeling the pressure of attracting women to close the gap between male and female developers, so it has been easy for me so far to find a place to work. Being a woman in this industry is an advantage some of the time. There’s nothing to be intimidated by.

It’s even funny sometimes. At work parties, I’m the only one trying to dress well and use make-up, and my friends like to joke about it, saying that my job is making sure everything looks great, so of course, I do those things.

That being said, it’s curious to notice that, at companies like Scio for example, most women tend to gravitate towards analytical and QA stuff. I wonder why that is. I’ve never met another woman doing Test Automation or things like that; last year a girl started working with us in Full-Stack but doing Data Analytics, and everyone else has always been men.


It’s something I talk about a lot. I have many friends dedicated to Humanities, and we always discuss the differences between our fields; in the case of one of them, her office is almost purely women, with one or two guys here and there. I guess there are many reasons for it, and I have wondered before why it’s so important to close gaps in certain areas.

I don’t see a field dominated by either gender as something inherently wrong, if these differences were dictated by more biological, natural affinities, like women being more social or men being more analytic. But when those exclusions are cultural when we try to separate genders from childhood by allowing kids to play with certain toys only, we are creating inequality, and something should be done about it. And this is a change that we are not going to see in the next year or two, but it will take maybe an entire generation to change these points of view.

Now, in the actual job, do these differences matter? Maybe I have different aesthetic sensibilities and ideas of how things should look, so I can tell my coworkers an application needs, but I’m not sure that’s because I’m a woman, or because I have a background in Design. Who knows?

Being a developer has also brought other advantages for me. I have a son currently four years old, and working in software gave me a lot of leeways to define my schedules and limits, define my own way to work, and leave enough time for my family. I feel like I’m more productive, with better control of my time, and applying a developer point of view to raising my kid, where I accomplish big things by dividing it into smaller tasks, finishing each, and going from there, has helped me a lot. 

Also, I’m used to staying up very late at night, so being a developer has also helped me a lot with that. Working in software, then, is very freeing and flexible, and I’m glad I could do it even before I was a mom. I don’t have to go to the office all the time, I can get along anywhere and the pay is not bad at all, so my quality of life is something I’m really happy about.