Here, the founder of SwipeGuide, talks to BeverageDaily about the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated tech business and why she started her company, which provides a cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform to create, distribute, use and track intelligent visual instructions for machine operators and field service engineers thanks to digital user guides on mobile devices and smart glasses.
Schneyder’s software company has been recognised as ‘the new industry standard’ for digital work instructions and standard operating procedures, solving problems for ‘real people’.
“I jumped at the opportunity to become a tech entrepreneur over frustration with knowledge management and instructions, and an industry very much stuck in the last century. I believe creating, using and tracking instructions and procedures should be intelligent and effortless,” said Schneyder.
“Before SwipeGuide I led several fintechs and cleantechs to growth acceleration in the role of interim c-level executive. And prior to that I worked as a management consultant and led multiple corporates through their digital transformation.
“From the start of my career ‘outside-in design- or 'user-centred design' was at the core of everything I did. Challenging the status quo and bringing the customer or user perspective back in. Putting recognition of people, customers, users and their needs at the core of everything I do.
“When I was a kid it would be standing up for injustice among my peers in school, which would get me into trouble. In my first job it was about bringing back respect for our customers in the shops among the teams at HQ and now it is about helping manufacturing industry understand that the actual expertise is with your frontline workers. And you need to lift those workers up, respect their expertise, enable them with the best tools you can find.
“By making your frontline workers awesome you have a chance of being an awesome manufacturer.”
Schneyder said she originally designed SwipeGuide in 2016 with the goal of solving the problem of endless product returns, claims and questions for consumer goods.
“We found that >80% of after sales contact is related to the instruction around the product,” she added.
“In the first year we worked for companies like Philips Consumer Lifestyle to reimage the after sales experience and increase customer satisfaction. However, we found this vertical to be too early a stage to start in and the problem we solved there was just not as concrete and value adding compared to where we operate now.
“The platform and the shopfloor apps solve a huge and daily pain-point for workers in manufacturing and drives value for the company.
“The manufacturing industry and especially its workforce has been grossly overlooked by the tech sector. To us the workforce is key to unlocking the manufacturer's operational excellence at scale. By putting these users and their needs first companies can capture their procedural knowledge bottom up and with that improve operational excellence at scale and learn how to improve their competitiveness through automation.”
Schneyder says key to this excellence are her ‘Swipees’, a team of 25 staff who are experts in product design, software developers, architects, customer success specialists and business developers.
Clients include Heineken which has integrated the SwipeGuide platform into its global supply chain, helping breweries minimize waste and maximize efficiency.
With Pernod Ricard SwipeGuide facilitates work instructions on the bottling line of Chivas Brothers’ whiskey production and ABB’s field service engineers can create, distribute, and maintain work instructions from the field.
The Ocean Cleanup needs to teach a large number of employees and volunteers how to operate complex devices and machinery. With sustainability and instant usability as a necessity, digital work instructions via SwipeGuide were a natural choice.
Finally, Animo prides itself on the user-friendliness, durability, and quality of its coffee machines. SwipeGuide, together with Eluxis, put together a step-by-step digital instruction guide, allowing customers to set-up, use and maintain their coffee machines.
Speaking about being a female entrepreneur in a male dominated environement, Schneyder said women face the same challenges as any other predominantly male industry.
“The biggest challenge to overcome is the prejudice. Biases and prejudices limit our ability to see clearly, to review and asses the data that is presented to us. A woman first has to prove that she is a worthy expert on the topic at hand, for a man it is always assumed,” she said.
“So if you’re a woman and you find yourself in the position where another woman pitches her company, a project or proposal, assume she’s done the groundwork and asked the right questions.
“Looking back I wouldn't have done anything differently because I learned a lot. I would have trusted my gut instinct and my own decision making more. To give advice to anyone else starting out in this industry I would say you’re an entrepreneur for a reason, trust your own expertise.
“Female founders are in general underfunded and over-coached according to a study by BCG, so spend more time on the funding and less on doubting yourself.”
According to BCG, when women business owners pitch their ideas to investors for early - stage capital, they receive significantly less - a disparity that averages more than $1 million than men. Yet businesses founded by women ultimately deliver higher revenue - more than twice as much per dollar invested than those founded by men, making women-owned companies better investments for financial backers.