My Week: Belinda Parmar of Lady Geek

The Lady Geek founder on juggling family life with business, and why technology doesn't get women.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

My son usually jumps into bed with me around 7am and proceeds to bounce all over me – it’s not exactly a soft awakening. But I normally say, ‘let’s just lie down and have a cuddle’ – nothing is better than those morning cuddles.

I take my son to playgroup while my daughter stays at home with our live-in nanny. My husband works for an investment bank - his hours are long, starting early and coming home late at night – so in the week it’s pretty much down to me and the nanny. He’s good on a Saturday and Sunday, though – although he rarely puts on his rubber gloves and does the washing up.

After that, I go straight to work. I started Lady Geek because I was frustrated with the way technology companies sell to men. The current PC World campaign is a case in point – ‘my world is pink’? Those things drive me crazy! And Samsung – they’ve spent millions of dollars asking women what colour their lives are. Are they serious? My life has no colour.

I worked with Forrester to assess the industry, and we found by not targeting professional, educated women, technology companies are missing £0.6bn. Four out of 10 women are now buying gadgets – and we’re not talking washing machines and fridges here, we’re talking HD TVs, consoles and PCs.

On Thursday, I had a meeting with the global CMO of Dell, Paul Henri Ferrand. We talked about how Dell is trying to, in his words, ‘help women achieve their objectives and their dreams’.

You may remember Dell was the creator of the disastrous ‘Della’ – a portal dedicated to women which gave you email tips alongside recipe tips. It was pulled down within a couple of weeks because it was so dreadful – but Dell learned from that. They’re really changing the way the company is structured and how they develop products. Ferrand takes a call with a customer every single day. When I listen to most marketing directors, they talk about customers as this exotic alien species. Ferrand keeps his feet on the ground.

I’ve also been developing a weekly mobile apps show for women. I can’t go into it too much, but I did some research which showed twice as many women as men have never downloaded a single app on their smartphone. Contrast that with the finding that more women than men have upgraded their smartphones in the last six months – there’s a whole group of women who just want to know what’s cool and what’s interesting when it comes to the app world.

Tonight, I’m meeting my editor at The Times. I write a bi-weekly column called Frustrations of a Lady Geek. I want to talk about the new Times paywall which is due to happen in June, and how it’s going to affect the readership of the column. They’re developing something quite unique. We’ll see a new and improved Times, which will have fewer readers, but a stronger, tighter community of readers.

I only started the business this year, but I’ve found it’s pretty much a 24/7 job. It’s my third baby, and it’s much more time-consuming and far more demanding than either of the other two. That said, I think everyone should run a business. You’re too protected in a work environment. I would recommend that everyone does it – for a period of time, at least.

Belinda Parmar is a consultant professor and the founder of Lady Geek, which helps technology companies target women in their marketing campaigns. Belinda is also a regular columnist for The Times and Management Today. You can follow her on Twitter @belindaparmar

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