Emma Joy Obanye is an entrepreneur, advisor, mentor and tech geek from Hackney and has spent the last 15 years building products and leading teams in tech for both corporates and startups.
On a mission to increase diversity and inclusion within the London tech startup ecosystem, Emma leads on entrepreneur-facing activities of Capital Enterprise’s ‘OneTech’ initiative as Director of Entrepreneurship. As well as an advisory group member of Lambeth Council’s mission to support diverse talent and open up the creative workplace through Elevate.
An entrepreneur herself, Emma does this whilst splitting her time between her ventures Mindful Team (a tech platform to measure and improve the health and culture of teams) and The Retrospective Game (card games for teams).
Emma previously co-founded and exited the award-winning, music-focused loyalty and influencer platform BuddyBounce. Emma was recognised by the Inclusive Boards and Financial Times as one of The UK’s top 100 black and minority ethnic leaders in 2019.
1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given
To pursue a career in tech. When I was making my A-Level choices, I had a chat with my cousin’s husband who was a teacher. He advised me against my first choice in journalism and towards my hobby at the time and second choice computing as he didn’t think there would be enough opportunities in the media for someone like me. I’m so grateful that I followed that path as it’s been everything I imagined and more. I’ve experienced personal development beyond belief.
2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given
You’re trying to solve too complex a problem. In 2007 my business partners and I were at a tech event talking to a VC about our startup Taxi Jungle. We’d built a price comparison engine for minicabs in London. This investor advised us against continuing, saying it was too big and too complex a problem to solve…
3. What would you tell your younger self?
Accelerate your personal development by trying things, taking risks and putting yourself out there more. There is no set path you have to follow…don’t listen to all the “rules”, believe in yourself. This will develop you as a person and as a result amazing opportunities will come your way. It won’t be easy, there will be lots of difficult times too, but they will be greatly outweighed in the end.
4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?
The movement that’s taking place. The number of amazing female and minority led businesses I’m seeing that are killing it. The energy in the ecosystem is changing as a result of the research being conducted to shine a light on the problems, the education senior leaders are receiving to transform their biases, the new diverse funds popping up, the support structures for the amazing pipeline of entrepreneurs and just the awareness to change the status quo. The pace is upping and the conversation is shifting from hack to transform the system.
I’m naturally optimistic, so although the results aren’t very different just yet, I am starting to see the shoots that will hopefully develop into the trees of progress. That’s exciting.
5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
The women in my life. The female role models in my life normalised business and showed me that entrepreneurship was something I could do. My Mum had a side hustle fabric business and a catering one (all whilst working 6 days a week and raising 4 kids on her own). My older sister talked to me loads about business and gave me books to read. My Aunt taught me about computers and gave me this gift as a hobby.