How Two Women Built an International CE Platform from Nearly Nothing

Sponsored Content: CE Zoom

Navigating the difficulties of establishing a women-owned and operated tech startup.

By Sharon Allen, Director of Marketing, CE Zoom

Building CE Zoom from the ground up, co-founders Sarah Thiel & Katrinna Jackson, faced many mountains to establish themselves and find success.

Lack of Funding and Investment

Women-led tech startups are often overlooked for funding and investment opportunities, leading to difficulty in scaling their business.

While venture capital funding overall has surged in recent years, the numbers haven’t leapt forward for female founders at the same pace. In 2022, companies founded solely by women garnered just 2% of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups in the U.S.1  

Sarah pitched CE Zoom numerous times in the last 8 years. It takes an incredible amount of time and resources to prepare to meet with investors, only to have deals fall through.

When you’re focused on finding investors, you’re not focused on the day-to-day of building your business, which could potentially set it back. With no funding and investment but sheer tenacity, CE Zoom was built on a shoestring budget to become an incredible platform.

Balancing Work and Family Life

Women in business often face the challenge of balancing their careers and personal lives, especially when they are also mothers. There are eight women who operate CE Zoom, five of whom are mothers. In describing this balancing act, Sarah says, “Having to be ‘on’ all the time, whether I’m in mom mode or CEO mode, is equally challenging and exhausting.”

Building a strong team provides additional support when one aspect of life requires more attention. Honestly, there is no work/life balance. It’s all juggling. 

The CE Zoom team recognized the difficulty of juggling career and family responsibilities and have accounted for the needed flexibility and help each other keep all the balls in the air. 

Building a Support Network

A support network can influence every aspect of a startup. Strong team members, people that can make introductions, cheerleaders, and sounding boards are all part of a support network. 

As a small-town girl living in a lonely world, Sarah had to go out and hustle. She went to every possible conference and endlessly networked. She talked to anyone that would listen. During this early phase, Sarah met her fan club – people who support her ideas, give critical feedback, and are loyal mentors. 

Often, Sarah struggled to be taken seriously. As she built her support network, she was able to utilize her connections to gain traction in an industry where she was unknown. Her support network has been pivotal in opening doors for CE Zoom. The hustle continued for years until one day, it seemed like the entire country knew what CE Zoom was.

By persevering in the face of rejection, building a supportive team, and connecting with a respected support network, CE Zoom turned challenges into opportunities for growth and success. Finally reaching the peak and looking out to enjoy the beautiful view.

Schedule a call if you’d like to see what we’ve built: [email protected].

1 PitchBook. (2023. February 1). US VC Female Founders Dashboard.