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Dreaming big key to entrepreneurial success, female start-up founder tells audience (webinar)

Author(s): Chad Bayne

Dec 8, 2021

Despite being discriminated against throughout her career as a woman in technology, Raquel Urtasun, founder and CEO, Waabi, always believed in herself and her capabilities. Now she is one of only a few women in the world to be leading an autonomous vehicle start-up. Raquel shared her experiences as part of Osler’s Women in Emerging and High Growth Companies Leadership series hosted by Chad Bayne, partner and co-chair, and Jordana Corber-Tovel, associate, Emerging and High Growth Companies. Michelle Scarborough, managing partner, BDC, led the fireside chat with Raquel.  

“It’s there, we have to recognize it, and do something about it,” says Raquel, in reference to her experience with discrimination. “When it happens, you need to take a deep breath, look at what you’ve achieved, look at where you’re going, and nothing can stop you.”

Waabi, a Toronto-based start-up formed in June, 2021, raised $83.5 million, which is among the largest Series A rounds ever in Canada. The company began with 30 employees and has grown to 50.

Raquel says that recruiting and retaining talent is one of the greatest challenges facing her industry. But in the last few years, including the time she spent as chief scientist and executive leader at Uber’s advanced technology group, Raquel has never lost an employee to a competitor. “It’s important to build a culture where everyone is aligned to the vision and where everyone can achieve their potential,” says Raquel.

To attract more women and underrepresented minorities to technology in the future, Raquel says support needs to be provided at an early age to those who show an interest in this field.

For women thinking of becoming entrepreneurs, Raquel offers the following advice: “Don’t be afraid to be different. Dream big, be bold and don’t give up. You can achieve what you’ve set out to do. Push, push, push.”

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