After ten years of entrepreneurial adventures, Tatiana Jama (M.08) has co-created Sista, a collective that aims to promote gender diversity in the digital economy and the financing of start-ups launched by women. A challenge that combines her two passions: feminism and tech.
What if we asked women the same questions as men?” If you haven’t seen this delightful video yet, take a look at it quickly. You’ll discover eight top French executives cleverly grilled on various subjects: their talent for balancing professional and private life, for curbing their overflowing emotionality or for taming that damned impostor complex, all topped off with flattering reflections on their looks – and their physiques – and “unavoidable” questions on their beauty addresses and their “morning routine”. Alternately bewildered, amused, even hilarious, François-Henri Pinault (H.85), CEO of Kering, Xavier Niel (Iliad Free) or Frédéric Mazzella (Blablacar) lend themselves to the exercise that humorously denounces the unequal treatment of women and men business leaders in the media. Guaranteed effect! At the origin of this punchy viral campaign? Sista, a collective of female entrepreneurs and investors created in 2018 to promote diversity in the digital economy and support funding for female tech startups. The inspiration for the video? “It’s simple,” exclaims Tatiana Jama (M.08), co-founder of Sista, “I compiled all the questions I’ve been asked over the past 15 years.” So it’s all about experience.
Tatiana is one of the pioneers of French tech who, at the dawn of the 2010s, enthusiastically cleared the way in a predominantly male field, where certain prejudices are still very much alive. A serial entrepreneur who emerged from the crucible of a bubbling class of the HEC Incubator, an investor, a member of the National Digital Council, the think tank The Galion Project, Station F and Eurazeo PME, Tatiana was destined to become a lawyer before the tech and entrepreneurship bug caught up with her. After studying criminal business law at the Sorbonne and a Master’s degree in law and international management at HEC Paris, her path changed when she met Lara Rouyres (M.08), a lawyer from a family of entrepreneurs.
The entrepreneurial virus
“After discussing our projects and working together, entrepreneurship became an obvious choice for us. It’s a stimulating and exciting world, very different from the standardized and hierarchical world of law. With a start-up investment of 3,000 euros, the two young women created Dealissime, a high-end group buying platform. “We were met with criticism: our profiles didn’t seem complementary enough to set up a start-up.” And yet: Dealissime, which quickly raised 600,000 euros, experienced a meteoric growth. The nugget was spotted and then bought by Amazon via LivingSocial, whose French subsidiary the two entrepreneurs would manage for two years: “It was a fast-track learning experience. We were young, Dealissime was our very first company, we had put a lot of emotion into it. But selling it made sense: at the time, only an American company could raise the millions needed to ensure its development.
women entrepreneurs receive on average 2.5 times less funding than their male counterparts
Tatiana and Lara then decided to launch a mobile application, Selectionnist. “The idea was simple: to help consumers instantly find a product by taking a picture of it on a magazine page. Here again, success was the order of the day: they canvassed women’s magazines and raised funds. After a few years, the founders gave up the brand to develop its spin-off Levia.ia, specialized in conversational technologies. But this time, Tatiana focused her energy on a new venture: Sista, which she co-founded with Céline Lazorthes (M.08), creator of the Leetchi group and now co-founder of Résilience Care. “The links forged at the HEC Incubator are at the origin of the Sista collective. Céline and I were there at the same time: women entrepreneurs in tech, we had similar experiences and difficulties, especially when raising funds. Ten years later, we realized that nothing had changed: gender diversity in tech was still a societal issue.
We thought we were in the right position and at the right time to make things happen,” explains Tatiana. Sista is kicking off by launching its Accelerating Funding for Women Entrepreneurs charter, with the goal of reaching 25% of startups funded, founded or co-founded by women by 2025, 30% by 2030 and 50% by 2050. The first barometer conducted by Sista, BCG and CNNum in 2019 provides a clear picture: in France, start-ups created by women are 30% less likely to be financed by major venture capital funds than those led by men. And when raising funds, women entrepreneurs receive on average 2.5 times less funding than their male counterparts. “Cognitive biases work against equality: 89% of venture capital fund partners are men. Moreover, 50% of these funds have no women on their investment committees. Yet human beings have an unconscious tendency to help those who are similar to them… While the 2022 Sista BCG barometer points to an encouraging increase in gender diversity among start-up founding teams, those that are 100% male are still favored when raising funds. And female teams are the big losers: they are 4.4 times less well funded than male teams – so their situation has deteriorated further since 2019! Nothing is won.
A collective on all fronts
Tatiana deploys the collective (which counts among its board members Mercedes Erra (H.81), president of BETC Groupe, Nathalie Balla, co-president of La Redoute, Stéphane Pallez, general manager of the Française des Jeux (FDJ) or Cédric O (H.06), former secretary of state in charge of digital) on all fronts. Sista EntrepreneurEs brings together women founders of start-ups who want to help each other grow. The investment division brings together female investors and over 130 investment funds and support structures that have signed the collective’s charters. Finally, the SistaFund aims to raise €100 million to finance European start-ups led by mixed teams. With major players (BNP Paribas, FDJ, etc.), the Sista Fund is expected to support around thirty start-ups in the fields of commerce, healthcare, fintech, web3, the future of work and edtech. The first employee is Alice Groth, an HEC 2021, and her team is now composed of 6 people! At this point in my career, devoting myself 100% to Sista and creating this fund made the most sense,” says Tatiana. All the studies show that diversity is a performance factor. It is crucial to ensure the economic success of our start-ups and tech companies in our country!”