International Women’s Day 2021: Tina Wilson

To celebrate International Women's Day 2021, The Executive Magazine speaks to Tina Wilson, tech entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Wingman app.
Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Editor In Chief at The Executive Magazine

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Any opportunity, that highlights the contribution women make to this world, should be embraced and celebrated.  International women’s day is a wonderful chance to take a moment to recognise the huge accomplishments that women have made to our world and be conscious of how we interact, elevate and empower one another.   If we all paused, men and women, and thought of 5 great women’s achievements, it goes some way to pushing those thoughts into daily life.   It makes me pause and appreciate all of the wonderful women I know, not just in business but my family and friends too – and how their support and love have helped me along.  It takes a village as they say.

What makes Wingman app so unique?

Wingman allows friends and family to get involved in the dating journey, helping their single friend to meet their perfect match.   Traditional online dating can be an extremely solitary swiping experience and not all singles are comfortable to date online, in fact over 50% of singles have rejected dating online, whether this is due to the stigma or uncomfortableness associated with it, it leaves a huge gap in the market.   Wingman allows friends and family to write a testimonial for their friend, giving some real-life insights into their personality and who they would be a good match for.  They also get to make the introductions to those they deem an appropriate match for their friends, with the ability to browse through potential singles and choose.  With no stigma of the singleton  being rejected, Wingman has been compared to a virtual night out, where friends can now play online cupid and we believe our collaborative, team like approach to dating, is why we’ve seen such a huge surge during the pandemic, as more people come online to stay connected to their friends, family and looking to meet new people.

How do you overcome stereotypes in the tech world which is predominantly male dominated? And are there any differences between the UK and USA?

When I began work in the tech industry I was shocked at the male dominated force and intimidated by it, but I pushed ahead nonetheless, as I believed in my product and vision for Wingman.   It has been undeniably noticeable that I’m usually the only woman in the meetings I take, but over the last few years that has changed.

People are always going to have an opinion, but their opinion of you is none of your business.  Whilst you are mind-reading or second guessing their beliefs, it takes focus away from what it important.   So my advice would be to stay focussed on what you want to achieve, and ensure you treat people how you wish to be treated.  Ensure your side of the street is clean, in that no matter how bad the other people behave, you ensure you rise above it and keep your behaviour to be something you are proud of.

I’ve learned that people’s bad behaviour generally has more to do with their own issues and nothing to do with you.   Whatever field or job you find yourself in, just make sure you are well read and researched. In any topics you are discussing – your knowledge will give you confidence and you will care less about others and focus more on what you want.

Whilst I’ve met countless men who are challenged by women in business, I’ve also met a few good men who are supportive and celebratory and encouraging of women breaking barriers and changing things up.  I would say focus more on finding those gems and swipe left on the others.

What is the single piece of advice you would offer to a budding female tech entrepreneur? 

Be ready.  Be well read, researched and practiced for any meeting or experience you find yourself in.  When you are confident in your knowledge and know your truth, this will push you further than anything else.  There is a growing female community in tech right now and we all want to help each other recognise their potential, reach out and get connected.

You decided to follow your career dreams after suffering a major car accident. How much of a turning point was this period in your life both professionally and personally? 

Evaluating ones life at any point is always a healthy choice, but when you have a life death experience, you cannot help but be forever changed.  I would suggest that no matter what fears, doubts or struggles you have along the way, there is an awareness that life is never guaranteed so you better make the most of it, and knowing that things can change in an instant can give you a braveness that you didn’t have before.

What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?

No-one starts at the same block as you, meaning everyone’s journey is different so do not compare apples to pears.

Falling down and failing is going to happen, but what matters is how you get up and move forward.  Successful companies do not happen overnight, or by one person and they’ve experienced years of failure and upset to get to their success.

Would you have done anything differently in your life and career?

‘I wish I knew then what I know now’ is such a cliché but very true.  I wish I had more confidence in myself and trusted my intuition, rather than second-guessing and being safe.

What are your growth plans for the future? 

Wingman has exploded over the past year due to the Pandemic, and seeing that we are keeping friends, family and loved ones together on the quest for love, gives me total joy.  We are a global team and will continue to grow that team.  Our plan is to launch Wingman into different countries, as demand increases for our product which will likely be parts of Europe and India.  Our roadmap for the year ahead will see some exciting new features within the app with a monetisation and reward plan ensuring our users get the very best of what the world can offer.

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