Women in enterprise: It’s in our hands to change | TopMBA.com

Women in enterprise: It’s in our hands to change

By Laura L

Updated Updated

Karina Collis studied an Executive MBA at ESCP Business School in London and now the CEO and founder of Dialllog.co, an innovative software platform for venture capital and private equity funds.  

Karina spoke to TopMBA about what it’s like to have founded a company as a woman, the challenges she’s faced and how her business school experience has helped her to build a successful start-up. 

Tell us more about Diallog.co and what you do

Diallog.co digitalises all operations and workflows in venture capital and private equity. It’s an activity-based platform for relationships and collaboration in the private investment ecosystem.  

Most venture capitalists and private equity investors are still under-digitalised today. Some use basic CRM software to manage their deal flow but most still resort to Microsoft Excel or a fragmented set of applications that perpetuate lost data, low collaboration, and momentum.  

Diallog.co acts as an integrated platform that empowers investment teams with a 360-degree view on all their activities and a means to collaborate with their direct external ecosystem in real time. We deliver previously unavailable efficiency gains to a very large and growing industry.

How did the Executive MBA help you find success in your start up? 

I spent 15 years working in business development for large financial corporations like Bloomberg and Moody's. I dreamt of launching my own FinTech business, but everyone told me that it was too risky, and I was doomed to fail.  

I spent my days doing something that I wasn't passionate about and needed to make a change, so I decided to take on an executive MBA.  

From the first day, I met inspiring leaders willing to share their stories and help each other to grow. I learned that any business, no matter the size, was challenging and that the main skill was to know how to successfully deal with situations of stress and adversity.  

My first entrepreneurial idea was born during the EMBA programme. I wanted to develop a sales automation platform. I remember that at the end of the design-thinking course, I had my first prototype and dozens of customer interviews completed. At the end of the marketing course, I abandoned that idea, realising how saturated the market was already.  

By doing that, I learned about the initial steps of the entrepreneurial journey, from concept to execution, which has helped me to get to where I am today.  

I keep in touch with my EMBA friends daily. Some of them help me with advice, some with introductions to other business leaders, and many reach out to me to discuss their own entrepreneurial ideas. I love this dynamic community. I find it very enriching and inspiring. 

What challenges have you faced being a woman in business? How did you overcome these?

I am proud to be a woman entrepreneur. People say that the female voice is less vocal. Well, it is in our hands to change. I don't find it difficult to knock on the same door again and again until it's open. This is entrepreneurship for me.  

What I find the most challenging is to stay still and calm in stressful situations. I don't know if it is gender-related or not though. I think anyone can feel anxious. To avoid emotional decisions, I've learned to distance myself from a problem and I try to look at it through other people's eyes. I ask myself “what would Anna or John think about it? What benefits and risks would they see?” 

This approach helps me to analyse the problem from different angles. What I learned is that under no circumstances should you rush, even when a mostly male-dominated community puts pressure on me. 

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurial women?

The main advice I can give is to talk to more people to get other perspectives and insights. Nothing can be achieved alone. By talking to people, you gain their advice, feedback, support, and new ideas. Build and expand your network every day. An MBA programme is the best place to start connecting to new people. 


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