Data and technology are enablers that make lives easier: Carmen Vicelich, Founder and Global CEO, Valocity
At HerStory’s Women on a Mission Summit, Carmen Vicelich discussed the key changes, challenges, and opportunities that she has seen in the global FinTech and banking space. Along with this, she provided insights into women in tech and issues of gender diversity.
Carmen Vicelich knew that two decades ago was the right moment to step into technology. With experience in valuation strategy in the banking sector, and data analytics, she has transformed the industry. She has not one, but two startups that have scaled into leading businesses.
Having quit her corporate job, she ventured into entrepreneurship by setting up Data Insight, a company that provides insights into consumer preferences and behaviour. It is primarily used by businesses to leverage data in order to improve customer experiences. Her other startup, Valocity, is based in the property ecosystem. It makes use of cloud technology to simplify mortgage valuation by connecting all the parties involved digitally.has been recognised internationally in spaces such as the India FinTech Awards 2019, Singapore Top 10 Global Fintech 2018, and more.
“Data and technology are enablers when you’re passionate about making things better and lives easier,” she says.
Stepping into the world of technology
As a working mother of four children, Carmen discovered that the corporation she was working for was flexible but was missing something – innovation. “I was talking with clients and they were wanting us to solve problems with data and technology. And I could really see around the emerging technologies. I looked at us as customers wanting things to be accessible, relevant, and easy. There was also the buying process where despite all the innovations in the world, very little had changed.”
According to Carmen, any question on why she chose to immerse herself into technology ties back to why she opted for entrepreneurship as well. “When I looked around, I worked from home and it gave me flexibility, but there was no one I wanted to go and work for. I could see the problems that had to be solved, so I left my corporate job.”
She attributes her success to her family and ambition along with resilience and self-belief to delve into entrepreneurship.
Carmen maintains her stand that technology is an enabler. Whether it is the buying process or even working from home, all of these are possible because of tech. The overarching thought is this: no matter what the sector is, data insights are enough to solve the issues.
The challenges then and now
“I launched Data Insights because I needed to fund myself,” Carmen admits, “And I saw this opportunity while I was going to move into banking and property data valuation. At that same time, we were building Valocity, and we were working with companies that had lots of data but no insight.”
Large brands began saying that they had data but didn’t know how to tune in to value. Because they needed help to gain a better perspective on things, Data Insights was born to fill that gap. This was while Valocity, too, was in the process of being built. “It was a chicken-and-egg situation.”
Valocity was conceptualised from the need to have a connecting platform that uses data and to democratise it. So, whether it was an Uber using information to connect with users, or an Airbnb finding the right room for its consumers, data was the very crux of operations.
“We’re going to look back at this time as a technological revolution, just like we looked back at the industrial revolution at one point.”
Trends in fintech
Analysts have predicted that the global fintech market size is set to cross trillions of dollars, and this holds great promise. “Because of Covid-19, everyone has recognised the need to be digitally connected,” says Carmen. “There’s also the democratisation of housing for all and banking for all. That’s why even developing nations are moving towards a mobile-first and open banking sphere. It is technology and data that is driving this growth.”
Today, there is an increased adoption of cloud and digital services which is bringing new competitors into the fintech market. Carmen feels that it has led to increased innovation and diversity of choices for consumers. “There is an acceleration of traditional banks partnering with fintech to deliver better customer experiences.”
Gender diversity and gaps at workplaces
Carmen feels that stories of women entrepreneurs and having conversations about their success creates an impact. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of women feel that the technology industry is welcoming towards them. The downside is that the sector is actually very vast and holds immense scope, but faces issues when it comes to gender diversity.
“What is generally believed is that technology is about engineering or that it means development, but all technology solves people's problems,” she explains, “Whether it’s product design or customer experience, it’s a much broader sphere which will hopefully attract more women to the space.”
There is still a massive way to go. Whenever she goes for a technology conference, there are visibly more men than women present. More often than not, Carmen finds herself to be the only woman in technology panels. One way of going about the problem, though, is ensuring that more stories about women and female entrepreneurs are brought to light.
Advice for women entrepreneurs
“Everything is about the people and the problems that you’re solving. Whatever you’re going to do, make sure that you’re solving a problem, and that you have the right people and team behind you. Make sure that you’re incredibly passionate about what you’re doing, be surrounded by people that are smarter than you, and just get started.”
A shout out to the sponsors of Women on a Mission Summit 2022, an Initiative by HerStory, by YourStory - BYJU’S, the presenting partner, and other sponsors - Kyndryl, Sequoia Spark, Zilingo, Atlassian, Akamai, Freshworks for Startups, and Netapp Excellerator.
Edited by Ramarko Sengupta