Juliette Souliman is the youngest investment professional at Octopus Ventures, and in February, was named on the Innovate Finance Women in FinTech Powerlist, which celebrates the top 150 women working in fintech today. She was also named in the Standout 35 Star category of outstanding contributors. We asked Juliette to tell us about what she does, and why she’s such a fierce advocate for diversity within fintech.
Juliette, tell us what you do
I am a venture capital (VC) investor at Octopus Ventures. I focus exclusively on identifying and assessing new deals within fintech, insurtech and blockchain. I’m also currently building a domain expertise and investment thesis on the future of payments and banking.
I’m an entrepreneur at heart. Before joining Octopus, I set up an endurance events marketplace company. While not being the success that I wished for, we launched a beta version, generated early revenue, and integrated into an incubator in the heart of London.
How have you tried to have an impact in the fintech sector?
I’m a firm believer in meritocracy, the idea that people deserve to succeed because of their ability and determination, rather than their gender. At Octopus Ventures, we look to discover the best, pioneering entrepreneurs and contribute to their world-changing success, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or other background.
I’m a big advocate for more diversity in fintech and especially in fintech funding. It’s still early in my career, but I always try to be outspoken and to have maximum impact. I’m particularly keen to break the glass ceiling of diversity in the fintech sector.
I’m also a true believer that the fintech of tomorrow needs to be massively inclusive, and this starts by empowering and providing more visibility, support and funding to a more diverse group of disruptors.
How did it feel to be named as one of the UK’s top women in fintech?
It was great to be nominated, and I think awards like these are really important, in terms of raising the awareness of what people like me and Felicia (Kodderitzsch, who was also named as a Standout 35 Star) do within fintech.
But in many ways, this is just the beginning. We need to keep calling out the inefficiencies within the system, and we need to champion those pioneers who are looking to create disruption. And, I think there are three things that we need to do within fintech to create meaningful change.
First, we need more women role models, both in terms of entrepreneurs and those in senior roles. We need to see more women reaching positions of prominence that the younger generation can aspire to.
I’m a mentor at the London Business School Women in Business Programme and at the London & Partners Business Growth Programme, where I enjoy sharing my personal experience with prospective applicants in VCs and passionate entrepreneurs seeking funding.
Second, we need to get better at networking, which is one of the most essential skills to grow and enhance visibility and support in the sector. Breaking into fintech can be hard, and everyone needs to be aware of the unconscious biases that can prevent some people from even thinking about entering the industry.
So, looking out for each other and finding ways to help women to get a start within fintech is super-important. Education plays a huge role here.
And third, women in fintech need to be more vocal. Being active, having a voice, and making yourself heard, really makes a difference. I co-organise social and networking events as well as round tables with participants to discuss key trends and aspects of our industry.
This is our industry too, and we’ve earned the right to be a part of it. Making a bigger impact in fintech in 2019 is a challenge that I cannot wait to take on.