2020 was the year that accelerated trends that were bound to happen. One of them is the expansion of SaaS services all around the globe – and, of course, Latin American companies have also benefited from the situation and expanded their businesses. But are you aware of the role of female CTOs in driving this change?

How did they manage to achieve that? Not only the context asked for innovation and their solutions more than ever, but also they could count on skilled tech workers. After all, every successful SaaS needs this to be successful.

While distributed teams are a solution that allows to reduce costs and find skilled professionals from any region, it is essential to know what is the right profile for your company.

Nowadays, Latin America offers a talented tech workforce that is in high demand and helping SaaS become an even bigger trend all around the world. Furthermore, it is essential to see how women are standing out in the crowd and gaining momentum in this market.

In this article, you will meet the female CTOs that are contributing to the revolution of SaaS in LatAm. We’ll show you why women in tech are offering even better results for their companies with facts and figures – and, of course, tell their stories.

How LatAm Saas is booming: Key facts you should look into

When we talk about SaaS, it is important to consider how it is one of the most promising markets nowadays. According to a study by Valuates Reports, it is projected to reach the value of US$ 307,3 billion by 2026 – it currently is US$ 158,2 billion.

But how about Latin America? Their SaaS companies are booming, with even better growth rates. While the worldwide CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) for this market is 11,7%, in LatAm it is expected to have accelerated growth of 28% per year – this according to a report by Research Nester.

Why is this market thriving? One of the explanations is the increase in the IT infrastructure in Latin America and the low cost of developing SaaS solutions. Also, emerging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are important factors, with the soaring demand for software as a service a key factor.

It is important to remember that Latin America is breaking its traditional consumer patterns – differently than markets such as Europe and the United States which began this process earlier. So yes, there is room for many SaaS companies to expand in the region.

As we can expect, Latin America’s IT workforce is rapidly increasing, with the world’s second-faster rate – according to a study by the Evans Data Corporation. Moreover, investments in quality of life and innovation help LatAm’s tech pool to thrive, with diversity also playing its role.

Smashing the glass ceiling: Female presence in LatAm IT market continues to grow – from juniors to CTOs

Before we talk more about diversity, it is crucial to point out that inclusion is still a work in progress. And because of a concept called glass ceiling, which is a metaphor for minorities facing intangible obstacles to rise beyond certain levels in companies’ hierarchies.

Having said that, we have great news: female presence in the LatAm IT market continues to grow. For instance, 21 startups co-founded by women became unicorns in 2019. The US$ 1 billion valuation mark was achieved by 15 companies in 2019 and 8 in 2018 – so yes, it is safe to point out that this is an accelerating trend.

Although women are still underrepresented in STEM fields, the situation in Latin America is changing as you read this article. While they were only 12% of the region’s engineers in 2013, their share increased to 35% in 2019.

This increase can be seen in many of the region’s tech companies. For instance, a study by Finnovista found out that women already lead 35% of Latin America’s fintech – Nubank’s co-founder Cristina Junqueira in Brazil is one of them.

It is important to point out that female founders outperform men. For instance, a study from Boston Consulting Group analyzed 350 startups in their MassChallenge program and found out that female-run companies raised 78 cents in revenue for every dollar raised – while men-run ones generated only 31 cents.

Furthermore, a study from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation pointed out that women-led teams can offer a return on investment 35% higher than all-male teams. Also, female-founded-companies have a performance of 63% better than the ones with only men – this according to a study by First Round Capital.

So yes, we can see a few cracks on the glass ceiling – and making this concept a faint memory is something that will always improve not only companies but society as a whole.

Read also: 11 ways women can shrink the gender pay gap to better achieve their financial goals

Who are the female CTOs driving innovation (and how)

So yes, women are a force for change in the innovation ecosystem. We discussed a few stats about how they can improve startups and other businesses focused on tech solutions, but it would be a mistake not to show you some examples.

Since we are focusing on the tech part of business, it is vital to remind you that this list only has females with CTOs (Chief Technology Officer) positions. These are not the only women leading the revolution in tech and science in the region – and we hope to write more articles about these talented STEMpreneurs.

Without further ado, here are important women driving innovation in Latin American companies that you should check out:

Who are the female CTOs changing the way Software Products are conceptualized?

The first step of any software product development is the conceptualization. It’s not only about having a good idea – after all, it is important to determine the scope of the project, how to use available resources to reach goals and timeframes.

With the rise of software as a service, this only showed how a wide range of ideas can benefit from this business model. Here are two STEMpreneurs that proves this point, with products that are from two different worlds:

Laura Mendoza Founder and Chief Operations Officer en Unima

Laura Mendoza – Founder and Chief Operations Officer en Unima

Laura Mendoza, Mexico

The COVID-19 pandemic brought light to many questions regarding infectious disease surveillance technologies and how to diagnose fast – and, of course, at low costs. But there were concerns about this long before the new coronavirus surfaced – and health tech startups such as Mexico’s Unima were already looking for solutions.

One of the minds behind the company’s success is Co-Founder & CTO, Laura Mendoza. Graduated in Chemical Engineering and with master’s degrees in Bioprocesses, Plant Genetics, and even Marketing, she also won the 2018 WeXchange Pitch Competition organized by Angel Ventures in Lima, Peru.

Unima was selected for the Y Combinator in 2016 – Laura was one of the first Latin American female STEMpreneurs to achieve this. With her guidance, the company is disrupting the health tech sector by taking diagnosis out of the lab and bringing it to the point of care.

How? By using a diagnostic device with biomarkers that generates a visual reaction when in contact with a blood, saliva, or urine sample – their app scans it and evaluates the result.

Because this solution is cheaper, it increases access to timely diagnostics in emerging and developing countries. After all, the costs for service centralization in these regions are higher and Unima’s product turned out to be a great alternative.

Cecilia Retegui - Co-Founder & CEO at Zolvers

Cecilia Retegui – Co-Founder & CEO at Zolvers

Cecilia Retegui, Argentina

Marketplaces are one of the most fashionable trends in SaaS solutions. With a wide range of products and services being able to benefit from this business model, it was a matter of time until cleaning and household maintenance joined the list with Zolvers.

Founded by Cecilia Retegui, the platform’s value offer is simple: offer the easiest way to find home cleaners, electricians, plumbers, and every type of home repair provider – all selected by Zolvers and with high quality and safety standards.

This is not the Argentinian’s first company. Graduated in Computer Engineering at the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional, she began her career as a software developer at Ford and founded the BDF Software Factory – which operated for 19 years.

Afterward, she founded Market-Plus, a marketplace that sold high-quality pre-owned products. The experience allowed the STEMpreneur to forge Zolvers’ business plan – and help more than 180.000 workers with employment, financial education, and formalization. The startup expanded from Argentina to Mexico, Colombia, and Chile.

Who are the female CTOs changing the way product, engineering, and design teams are managed

We can talk about SaaS conceptualization, though it is essential to remind you that no project can be viable without effective team management – not only engineering but also product and design.

Since this is a market that breathes innovation, there will be always new ways to do it. Here are two examples of female CTOs that not only are getting resources, but finding new ways to do so:

Daniela Binatti - Founder & CTO @ Pismo

Daniela Binatti – Founder & CTO @ Pismo

Daniela Binatti, Brazil

It is no secret that fintechs are in high demand, with more than US$ 8 billion raised in funding by financial startups based in Latin America during 2020. One of them is Pismo, a Brazilian company that provides SaaS payment processing solutions

The startup was founded by Daniela Binatti, who graduated in Computing Science at The Presbyterian University Mackenzie and has an Executive MBA at the Ibmec Business School.

Binatti, who is also Pismo’s CTO, has 20 years of experience in the traditional financial market and knows every challenge – such as having enough infrastructure and scale to thrive.

When the company was conceived, she and her co-founders knew that cloud computing is the future and followed that path. Pismo’s product has the mission of solving this, also reducing costs and allowing operations to be done faster.

Did it work? With more than 5 million accounts, it is safe to say that the answer is affirmative. Not only are they partners with banks such as Itaú and PTG Pactual, but also with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Co-Founder at Jooycar Connected Car Insuretech/Usage-Based Insurance (UBI)/IOT/AI/Fintech/Fleetr.com

Co-Founder at Jooycar Connected Car Insuretech/Usage-Based Insurance (UBI)/IOT/AI/Fintech/Fleetr.com

Maria Paz Gillet, Chile

When we talk about pioneership in raising capital for tech entrepreneurs, it is impossible not to remember Maria Paz Gillet. The Chilean raised US$ 6 million for her first startup Happy Shop back in 2013. Although the mobile shopping app is no longer in operation, it was a stepping stone for new projects.

And that would be Jooycar, a car telematics company that offers an IoT fleet management solution. This also allowed them to be the first pay-per-mile program in LatAm, with an app that allows to set routes and optimize the driver’s experience so it can be safer.

With the connected car market predicted to rise to 250 million vehicles worldwide, Jooycar is widening its range. Based in Chile, the company expanded to Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and even the United States.

Who is the female CTO changing the Software Development Lifecycle processes?

The Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) is all about producing a product with low cost and high quality. Without it, it will be more difficult to have an MVP and the SaaS product will probably be set to fail.

But how to improve the SLDC and find new ways to use it? Here is a female CTO who is doing it:

Camila Fernandez Achutti - Activist Tech Entrepreneur

Camila Fernandez Achutti – Activist Tech Entrepreneur

Camila Achutti, Brazil

This article is about women in tech positions and one thought that most of them definitely had when they began their careers is that the market is in dire need of female presence. Because of this, Camila Achutti decided to change the landscape and change the world – one girl at a time.

Graduated in Computer Science at the University of São Paulo, the Brazilian started as an Intern Engineer at Google. She also created the blog Mulheres na Computação to help women kick-start their careers in tech.

At the age of 25, the STEMpreneur was already praised as the co-founder of two startups that exceeded the millionaire valuation: Ponte21 and MasterTech – she is the CTO of both companies.

Ponte21 offers consulting services to accelerate the innovation process of organizations. Not only do they develop mobile apps, integrate artificial intelligence, and build high-end technologies, but also deliver the new product in just eight weeks.

What about MasterTech? The startup offers an educational platform that teaches entrepreneurship focused on digital business and tech. Their courses are adapted to the clients’ needs and had an impact on more than 400 companies.

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