Female Tech Leaders and their Fathers who support them in chasing their start-up dreams



When a woman succeeds in a male-dominated industry, we should also look at the support systems that she has in place that have enabled her to thrive. There are programs such as Startup Pinay, an initiative by QBO Innovation Hub to increase the participation of women in the tech sector and to provide focused support for female startup founders.


There is also the kind of support that is indeed closer to home—the support that women in tech could have from those closest to them.


This Father’s Day, we were able to interview two father-daughter duos with very different dynamics. We talked to Mel Nava, founder of 1Export, a startup that provides end-to-end services that help MSMEs go global, and her father and first investor, Carlos. We also received insight from Jojo Flores, co-founder of Plug and Play Tech, a Silicon Valley-based innovation platform that connects the best technology startups with the world’s largest corporations, and his daughter Cody, who is part of the company’s ventures team.


The duos talk about their beginnings in the startup field, separating work from home, and how fathers can continue to support and understand their daughters’ ventures into the startup space.


Mel showed early signs of entrepreneurship skills. It goes back to as early as her grade school days when the craze around themed playing cards was at its peak. Mel noticed this and immediately decided to resell the cards she would buy at the market to her schoolmates at a much higher price. Selling playing cards at school turned into selling clothes at seasonal bazaars, and the rest is history.


“She was always very passionate about what she wanted to do,” said Carlos, who has been working in the corporate field for four decades. “She always knew she was going to end up going down the entrepreneurial route.”


If Mel displayed her interest early on, for Cody, it was quite the opposite.


Jojo & Cody Flores


“My daughter Cody is actually on the shy side. Early on, she didn’t really show signs that she was interested in joining me at Plug and Play,” said Jojo. Regardless, he would still bring her along to various startup pitching competitions that he hosted, back when she was still in school. Jojo eventually noticed how engaged she was during these events and would come up with her own set of winners. He supposes that from then on, her interest in the startup field had piqued and led her to where she is today. “I think she’s enjoying her work now, meeting founders every day and learning new things,” he explained.



Letting them leave a mark in the industry

“I believe that she’s able to bring a more regional perspective for the local startups in the country,” said Jojo. Cody works as part of Plug and Play’s ventures team in APAC and is able to gain exposure to startups from across the region. This exposure is something that is vital to the operations and success at Plug and Play. “She’s able to bring this knowledge down to the Philippine startup scene, and we are all able to learn from her insight,” he added.


Carlos acknowledges just how passionate and driven Mel is, and how that passion has translated into successful results.


“She has pitched all over the world, and seeing so many people interested in her vision is very telling,” said Carlos. And while he does not necessarily have experience in the startup industry, he can see that 1Export is something worth investing in. “Seeing people believe in her work and invest in it, is something that I am very proud of,” he remarked.


The best advice a father could give

“I find that most of the advice I follow to this day are all essentially rooted in the importance we give to people and talent,” said Cody. Her father has always emphasized the importance of building a network that you can learn from, as well as forming warm and genuine relationships with them. “The time I spend speaking with hundreds of people within the startup ecosystem leads to the most priceless learning experience that I never would have gotten anywhere else,” she shared.

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