Rapid technological advancements are reshaping the business world at a breakneck pace.
To make it in this dynamic landscape takes a new breed of innovators, namely those willing to take a leap of faith, shoulder risks and bring their teams along for the journey. And leading the charge is Renee Welsh.
One part executive and one part serial entrepreneur, Welsh is a natural innovator. She launched her first tech business — Booking Boss, an award-winning ticketing and booking management platform — when she was only 27.
Now, as CEO of both Booking Boss and its sister-company, Embed – a cloud-based, cashless solutions provider for the family entertainment center industry – Welsh is showing the male-dominated tech industry exactly who’s boss.
“I’ve always been ambitious and self-driven,” Welsh tells The CEO Magazine. “And I’ve always considered myself an entrepreneur and will push boundaries whenever I can, especially when it comes to gender parity in tech.”
Unlocking boundless strength
Welsh points out that just over 10 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and just one-in-four startups has a female on the founding team.
It’s a glaring indication of the uphill battle women continue to face in the business world. However, rather than succumbing to these disheartening statistics, Welsh harnesses them as a wellspring of motivation, fueling her unwavering drive to ignite change.
“I’m passionate about advocating for a company culture that values inclusion and diversity by looking into gender equality and disparity issues,” she explains.
“I’m passionate about advocating for a company culture that values inclusion and diversity by looking into gender equality and disparity issues.”
“That means working to eliminate the gender pay gap, pushing for more women at the C-suite level and playing a proactive role in empowering, mentoring and inspiring women to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams.
“I am immensely proud to lead a chief executive team with a 33 percent gender parity, something completely unheard of in the tech industry, and a model of what other companies, both large and small, aspire to achieve.”
With a shared commitment, Embed is dedicated to gender parity at all levels of the organization. The company recognizes the ‘boundless strength’ – intellectual, leadership, cultural and commercial prowess – that comes from harnessing and realizing the talent capital of gender equality.
Mounting research supports this commitment. Organizations that embrace gender diversity in their executive teams consistently outperform competitors financially.
More than promoting creativity and innovation within a company, diversity inspires results that are tangible. Organizations that have a strong diversity, equity and inclusion culture attract top talent, expand the pool of skilled individuals and improve employer branding.
Disrupt like a boss
Welsh, a YPO member, has held stints at prominent startups across the world, including lastminute.com, wotif, Monster and RedBalloon, which undoubtedly helped to give wings to her entrepreneurial spirit.
However, it was during her tenure in the online tourism sector that she pinpointed a significant market gap – many tourism businesses were still relying on archaic paper-and-pencil processes.
“The rapid migration of consumer purchase trends online and the rising number of online travel agents were telltale signs that tourism businesses that stay on manual processes will struggle to keep up in providing a seamless booking experience,” she explains.
A Word of Advice
For aspiring female entrepreneurs, Welsh offers advice to bridge the gap of gender inequality:
- Fight the same fight: Get the seat at the table that all women deserve. We are relentless, talented, compassionate and full of potential. This is a fight we can win.
- Embrace change: Advance just as technology advances. Do not just keep up with the times – stay ahead of them. And if ever you feel disheartened with challenges, bring your focus back to the very heart of what you do and why (the intention) you are doing it.
- Keep learning: If there’s an area of business that you don’t understand, study. Study hard to get up to speed, so you can help guide your team.
This realization sparked the idea for Booking Boss. “Conveniently, my husband is an enterprise software engineer. We eventually launched Booking Boss as a response to the need we had seen,” Welsh says.
A cloud-based reservation software designed for tour operators, attractions and activity providers, Booking Boss has a world-first, in-built channel manager.
“It’s basically an all-in-one platform for ticketing, bookings and capacity management streamlined to take more bookings, make more sales and expand the business’ footprint – all while reducing administrative workload,” Welsh says.
Innovate, innovate, innovate
With the rapid proliferation of AI, Welsh says operations and guest expectations are set to digitize faster than ever. That means staying at the forefront of technological innovation is no longer an option but a necessity for success.
“Entrepreneurs should be armed and ready to keep pushing the envelope of tech innovation for the business to thrive,” Welsh says.
“They must innovate, innovate and then innovate some more. Companies that tell customers that they won’t change are almost promising stagnancy to clients. Advancement means you can bring your customers into the future with your business.
“The here and now is important, but to safeguard and futureproof your clients’ businesses is one of the most fulfilling parts of the job.”
“Entrepreneurs should be armed and ready to keep pushing the envelope of tech innovation for the business to thrive.”
R&D is baked into Booking Boss and Embed’s DNA. This helps to position these two game-changing businesses ahead of the curve, thriving in the face of change and becoming an industry benchmark. It’s something Welsh takes great pride in.
“My greatest achievement to date has been stepping into Embed as the CEO and transforming the business globally, from the operations right through to the business model and product development,” she enthuses.
“It has been extremely rewarding to see the results, futureproof the business and continue its 20-year legacy, instigate major shifts in profitability and transform the culture.
“Embed and Booking Boss are in a position to set the pace of the industry’s future as tech leaders and innovators. There’s no way to go but forward.
“We’re brewing exciting tech for the industry, with the promise to continuously innovate for our customers.”