Blog: Catherine Juon

Catherine Juon likes exclamation points. It's an enthusiasm thing. Which makes sense when you consider the success she's seen as Pure Visibilty's Co-Founder & Catalyst. Catherine will be blogging this week about Internet marketing, what it's like to helm a woman-owned tech company, and talking to other women business leaders about their experiences.

Catherine Juon - Post No. 3: Is working in a woman owned company different?

That question turns out to be a great conversation starter, guaranteed! In the crowd I surveyed, the belief tended to be that pinning management style on gender would be tough without formal research. On the other hand, there was no question that operating a women owned business – especially in the high tech industry – presents unique opportunities and challenges

If you’re lucky enough to be a high tech, woman owned business in the Ann Arbor area, there’s no doubt the opportunities outweigh the challenges. We’ve got an incredibly supportive business community here – no matter what kind of business you’re in. It’s hard to describe, but there’s an over-riding feeling that the whole town is rooting for you. Maybe it’s that Michigan spirit carrying over from football Saturdays, or perhaps it could be more largely attributed to the Midwestern ethos… but it sure feels like there’s something truly unique happening here Ann Arbor.

For example, Ann Arbor is home to the only chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) that is centered around high tech. Typically, groups like these operate around the concept of exclusivity (as counterpart groups such as the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) do), but our local community felt so strongly about supporting each other that they chose to ‘break the rules’ and put competitors in the same room.

The benefits to groups like this are huge. Wondering if it’s worth the crazy paperwork to become a woman certified business? Ask for a show of hands and you’ve got an instant answer - along with offers of help if you run into bumps in the process. Trying to win a defense contract? You’ll soon be sharing best lobbying group in D.C. You name it, and you’ll have it, without hesitation, even if you’re competing for the same ‘pot’ of money.

As one local WPO member, Michelle Crumm of Adaptive Materials puts it, “If I build you up and make you #1 in your industry, that doesn’t make me #2, that makes me #1 in a different way.” It’s hard to capture that feeling on paper on a way that doesn’t sound sappy, but that kind of support is quite typical of what you’ll find in Ann Arbor whether it’s through groups specifically supporting women in business, or tech companies, or entrepreneurs in general.

In fact, there are so-o many more organizations for entrepreneurs in tech locally that I put together a list of them awhile back; you can the list on our Pure Visibility blog, and I’m happy to keep adding to that list if you find anything missing!