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Startup scene not just for young, male

Posted by Chad O'Connor  March 31, 2014 06:00 AM

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Another installment in our ongoing series to showcase innovative MassChallenge companies. MassChallenge is the world's largest startup accelerator and the first to support entrepreneurs with no strings attached. Startups can apply to the 2014 MassChallenge summer accelerator by April 2.

I'm Julie Tittler, CEO and founder of Semafores, Inc. We create mobile, multimedia tools for coordination, collaboration and encouragement. Through the magic of user-generated multimedia we are helping families coordinate caregiving across multiple hands, generations and locations.

I started this company because a caregiving miscommunication with my husband almost landed our son in the hospital. Not finding a product on the market that fit my complicated family caregiving needs, I decided to create one myself and help others in the process.

This decision was not an easy one to make as a mother with two young children. My children are nine and three, and my nine-year-old has extra medical needs. That makes any nine-to-five, two-earner household a maelstrom. But a startup entrepreneur? Yeah.

I always wondered why such a tiny fraction of tech start-ups are founded and run by women. The percentage is literally in the low single digits. I knew it wasn't because of capability. Now I know why.

What they say about what it takes to launch a start-up is true. You must do an insane amount of work in a short period of time. The hours are long; the stress extreme; the passion needed immense.

How do you pull the 80-hour weeks when you have two young kids at home who want their mommy? You just do it. Sleep is in short supply. There are no nannies. Pizza and McDonalds are luxuries. Trips to the playground become priceless.

A few things help immensely. The desire to fix my own family's issues fuels a passion rooted deep in a mother's protective instincts. Knowing I'm setting a good example for my children keeps me going. A partner who is willing to help with chores and kids is essential. (Thanks, Love.) But the energy…

The energy in Boston's innovation scene is awe-inspiring. Every day I entered the MassChallenge offices during the accelerator, no matter how little sleep I had, I was instantly invigorated. Even now, the eagerness and synergies and creativity flowing around me sweep me away and take me to heights I never thought I could reach. It isn't just young guys straight from college. It's a multigenerational, international group working together as entrepreneurs, investors and mentors to create the business stars of tomorrow.

The entrepreneurs are hungrily learning anything they can as they try to realize dreams. The mentors reenergize themselves and give back by sharing what they've learned. It's a unique, thriving ecosystem—helping hands across ages, full of compassion and generosity and tinged with a touch of ruthlessness. It's a continuation of a cycle as timeless as human community itself, with societal and technological advances providing a new twist:

Women can be equal players in the game too.

Julie Tittler is a software engineer, and the Founder and CEO of Semafores Inc, although her true role in the company is "Mother of Inspiration."

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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