‘Of course I was appalled by his words’ Tina Wilson- CEO of dating app Wingman – on being a female tech entrepreneur
Business Leader talks to Wingman founder and CEO Tina Wilson.
Tell me about Wingman and how is it unique to other online dating apps?
Wingman makes online dating a team effort, allowing friends and family to play virtual matchmaker to help their single friend find a match.
Traditional online dating is a solitary experience for singles only, and not everyone likes online dating. Infact over 50% of singletons still refuse to date online; whether that is due to stigma, bad experience or embarrassment, Wingman answers all of those problems.
You decided to follow your career dreams after a major car accident. Was this period of your life a turning point and why?
I believe it is healthy to evaluate your life at some point, and a near death experience will absolutely make that happen. In my case, a car accident stopped me in my tracks and changed life as I knew it.
Whilst there was a process of learning and acceptance following it, I believe I am braver and more resilient because of the trauma and humbled by the opportunities and friendships I have made. I’m absolutely unwilling to sweat the small stuff, knowing that life can change in a second, gives focus to making all time count.
When you launched your business what do you wish you had known?
Every journey begins from a different starting point and people love to talk about the highs and not the lows. Comparing your journey to someone else is pointless and failure is inevitable but what matters is what you do when things don’t’ work out as you hoped. It is all a learning process. How you get back up and move forward is the important element to becoming successful.
We never know what goes on behind closed doors, and success doesn’t happen overnight.
Do you as a female entrepreneur in tech sometimes face additional challenges when it comes to ‘owning’ a room? Any experiences you’d be happy to share?
When I began my journey as an entrepreneur, I was unprepared for the reaction to a woman working in the technology space, and unaware of the extremely male dominated world it was. I’m happy to say I’ve seen more women in the space over the last few years when you see figures that show less than 8% of investment is allocated to female founder businesses, you realise there is a long way to go.
One funny memory that sticks out to me was when a male service provider suggested ‘my time of the month was clouding my judgement’, after I disagreed with his opinion. Of course I was appalled by his words, but I soon realised it had little to do with me and was actually a result of his ignorance, ego and lack of confidence.
I’ve pushed myself to rise above their lack of education and thank them for showing their true
colours early on, so that I can move away from their inadequacies. There are many men out there who celebrate women breaking barriers (admittedly it’s the minority) but I focused on finding those people and use them as mentors and advisors.
In the end, all you can do is rise above the situation, acknowledge it to them in a dignified manner, and understand their ignorance is not a product of your intelligence
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Preparation, research and resiliance are key. In order to feel comfortable and confident in your entrepreneurial role, make sure you are well read, prepared and be ready for hard work. No matter how much you believe your idea will change the world, it won’t happen overnight and you need to be ready to work hard, roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes.
All feedback, good and bad, will help you. Don’t be put off by those that don’t agree with you, just find your own way and focus on what you want to achieve.
It is important to connect with your community, whatever that may be. You will meet like-minded people and can encourage each other to grow and reach your potential. Also don’t be afraid of hearing no
How do you aim to grow Wingman in the future?
During the pandemic we have seen Wingman explode onto the dating scene in the UK, supporting not only singles, but allowing their extended friends and family, come together on a platform to celebrate love, friendship and fun.
Wingman will continue to grow in the UK, and with an exciting new feature list being rolled out, we look forward to our community connecting in new ways. Wingman will launch in different countries over the next 12 months and allow new cultures to interact and bring love into their lives of their nearest and dearest.