Join Marie Claire and Entrepreneur First on Friday 12th Feb at 1pm for a special STEM panel in light of National Women and Girls in Science day. Editor in Chief of Marie Claire, Andrea Thompson, and Co-founder of Entrepreneur First, Alice Bentick, speak to a host of successful female founders who are making waves across their industries.
As Marie Claire launches Women in Tech week, we catch up with Alice Bentinck, the trailblazing STEM investor and co-founder of Entrepreneur First and Code First Girls to talk life-changing opportunities in STEM for women
As a STEM investor and co-founder and General Partner at talent investors Entrepreneur First, Alice Bentinck helps ambitious people find their co-founders and build tech startups from scratch.
She started the company with friend Matt Clifford in 2011, and they currently receive more than 1,500 applications a year. In its first four years, Entrepreneur First - backed by Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman - helped 2,000 plus people create more than 200 companies, worth a combined $2 billion.
Following the success of Entrepreneur First and noticing most individuals applying to Entrepreneur First were male, Bentinck and Clifford created Code First Girls, a not-for-profit that has taught more than 20,000 women to code for free. Code First Girls aims to provide skills, space and inspiration to become tech developers for free.
Here Bentinck - who was awarded an MBE for services to business in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours - discusses why opportunities for women in STEM is the way forward.
Becoming a STEM investor
What inspired you to carve a career in STEM?
"I never thought I'd work in STEM as that's not my background originally [prior to setting up her own companies, Alice worked at management consultancy firm McKinsey & Co]. After teaching myself to code, I founded a company with Matt called Entrepreneur First, supporting technical talent for those who want to build their own tech startup. We mainly take talented individuals before they have a team or an idea, and spend six months getting them to the point where they can take on serious seed funding."
"We’ve built 40 companies over the last three years. As I embarked on this career, it became increasingly obvious this was where exciting, world-changing opportunities were to be found. For anyone who wants to have impact, at scale, a career in STEM is the obvious choice."
Tell us more about the success of Code First Girls?
"Over the last seven years, we have been working hard to address the desperate need for more diversity in tech. As a STEM investor, at Code First Girls, we've taught more than 20,000 women to code for free at universities across the UK and through our online school. Half of those women are from BAME backgrounds. We are proud of what we've achieved but we're also aware how much more work there is to do."
So what needs to change in order for more women to have successful tech careers?
"We are seeing more and more young women realise a career in tech is the right path for them. One of the things I love about Code First Girls is that it provides women with a network when they join the tech industry. This is so important to help them realise there are lots of other amazing women in tech alongside giving them access to word-of-mouth opportunities.
"We were also worried applications to our Entrepreneur First cohorts would drop during the pandemic, but interestingly applications have risen by 8%, and from women they’ve risen by 37%, which is fantastic. We’re seeing budding entrepreneurs have a real drive and risk appetite and are adaptable enough to capture the pandemic as an opportunity. The best entrepreneurs will earn their way out of the pandemic. They'll work out how to adapt their ideas to be able to make the most of the opportunity."
What future plans or initiatives are exciting you this year?
"I’m excited to be able to help some of the world’s most ambitious people build the most important companies with the help of Entrepreneur First. As a company, we back founders with time, money, resources and a co-founder to build world-changing companies from the ground up. I can’t wait to see what brilliant new ideas 2021 brings. Investors are now more keen than ever to back tech companies that will innovate and enhance the ways we live. Tech is playing a huge role in how the world adapts to the pandemic and there's more demand than ever for tech in the ‘new normal’ we now live in. Investors are on the lookout for world-changing technology, so now is a great time for budding tech entrepreneurs to thrive."
What personal achievements make you proud?
"I'm really proud of the work Code First Girls has done. Tech is such an exciting, fast-growing sector and while the current climate is uncertain for many, I'm confident it will only continue to grow and provide an exciting and challenging career path. I'm so delighted to see so many more women join the industry after being exposed to it through Code First Girls."
Marie Claire Newsletter
Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Maria Coole is a contributing editor on Marie Claire.
Hello Marie Claire readers – you have reached your daily destination. I really hope you’re enjoying our reads and I'm very interested to know what you shared, liked and didn’t like (gah, it happens) by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
But if you fancy finding out who you’re venting to then let me tell you I’m the one on the team that remembers the Spice Girls the first time round. I confidently predicted they’d be a one-hit wonder in the pages of Bliss magazine where I was deputy editor through the second half of the 90s. Having soundly killed any career ambitions in music journalism I’ve managed to keep myself in glow-boosting moisturisers and theatre tickets with a centuries-spanning career in journalism.
Yes, predating t’internet, when 'I’ll fax you' was grunted down a phone with a cord attached to it; when Glastonbury was still accessible by casually going under or over a flimsy fence; when gatecrashing a Foo Fighters aftershow party was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy and tapping Dave Grohl on the shoulder was... oh sorry I like to ramble.
Originally born and bred in that there Welsh seaside town kindly given a new lease of life by Gavin & Stacey, I started out as a junior writer for the Girl Guides and eventually earned enough Brownie points to move on and have a blast as deputy editor of Bliss, New Woman and editor of People newspaper magazine. I was on the launch team of Look in 2007 - where I stuck around as deputy editor and acting editor for almost ten years - shaping a magazine and website at the forefront of body positivity, mental wellbeing and empowering features. More recently, I’ve been Closer executive editor, assistant editor at the Financial Times’s How To Spend It (yes thanks, no probs with that life skill) and now I’m making my inner fangirl’s dream come true by working on this agenda-setting brand, the one that inspired me to become a journalist when Marie Claire launched back in 1988.
I’m a theatre addict, lover of Marvel franchises, most hard cheeses, all types of trees, half-price Itsu, cats, Dr Who, cherry tomatoes, Curly-Wurly, cats, blueberries, cats, boiled eggs, cats, maxi dresses, cats, Adidas shelltops, cats and their kittens. I’ve never knowingly operated any household white goods and once served Ripples as a main course. And finally, always remember what the late great Nora Ephron said, ‘Everything is copy.’
Chia water is all over TikTok claiming to boost gut health and satiety - but after trying for a week, it's not for me
The results were.... interesting
By Sofia Piza
People are using face tape to minimise wrinkles, but does it work? After asking a plastic surgeon, I tried it for myself
Turns out, TikTok might've duped us on this one
By Tori Crowther
This weekly Olaplex mask is my answer to frazzled winter hair - the before and after pictures have to be seen to be believed
And it just takes 10 minutes
By Tori Crowther