Rebecca Pick: shaking things up for female entrepreneurs
Rebecca Pick talks Pick Protection, her award winning tech industry start-up
It’s inspiring to focus on women making their mark as a successful entrepreneur whilst also bridging the gender gap in industries where they are often underrepresented, in particular the tech industry. Despite efforts to build on Scotland’s technology industry, Digital Technology Skills Group found that women account for only 18% of the workforce. It’s challenging to find women working in this industry, and even more challenging to find a woman who has founded her own tech company.
Rebecca Pick is at the forefront of breaking down barriers surrounding women in technology and founded Glasgow based tech start-up Pick Protection– a company that produces its own range of personal guardians. These individual alarm systems can be clipped to the person, providing instant security at the click of a button. These alarms, although initially aimed at students, are aimed at lone workers such as lorry drivers, taxi driver’s and retailstaff- whose duties of work may find them in dangerous situations in which they will most likely to be alone.
Statistics from the British Crime Survey indicate that around 150 lone workers are physically or verbally attacked every day. In fact, International Workers’ Memorial Day is celebrated every year on 28 April, a day to commemorate all those killed through work. A day that sadly exists, as it highlights the very real problem of individuals being killed through work.
The Pick Protection device can be activated by pressing two buttons on each side with one’s fingers- it uses technology on your smart phone to send the Police your exact location, also alerting your pre-determined phone contacts. The most impressive quality is the in-built recording system which will pick up sounds, such as voices, which can be used as evidence to assist the Police, and also used in court.
Pick came up with the idea in her third year at the University of Strathclyde, after a harrowing incident occurred near her flat. The incident made her consider the gap in the market surrounding personal security alarms.
“I lived in the Southside of Glasgow and I lived by these dodgy bin sheds. My neighbour came across one day and said ‘did you hear what happened?’ and apparently a girl had been taken into the bin sheds and attacked and nobody came to help.” She explained. “It made me think that we should all have something on us at all times that we know when we activate it, it will get a response”
Pick completed an internship at a security company where she learned about the necessary technology- in particular how burglar alarms are monitored and connect to the Police upon a burglary. Pick took this idea, and made it her own. Instead of an alarm for a building, she made an alarm for a person.
Dr Nina Burrowes, a psychologist and researcher specialising in sexual violence, told The Telegraph: “I can imagine this device may be appealing to people who feel that they face a specific threat like a stalker.”
Pick worked closely with the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network, a system which encourages businesses and supports students to get their ideas off the ground and up and running. She was mentored by the head of an Angel Investment Syndicate, who decided she was ready to pitch for investment by her final year of university.
Pick stressed that as an entrepreneur, Scotland is one of the leading and most networked places you can start a business.
“I think Scotland is an excellent place to start a business. The community here have got people that are around and willing to give their time”
Not only has Pick Protection won numerous awards, she has also been named as one of the most influential women in the Scottish tech industry. Pick appears to be shaking up traditional gender hierarchies in technology.
Watch more of Rebecca’s interview in the video below.