ArticleHumaira's journey from Pakistan to founder of Locelle in Victoria. see more
One of the hardest parts about growing up is breaking free from what people expect from you and learning to embrace who you really are. For Humaira Ahmed, founder of Locelle, growing up in a heavily male-dominated culture in Pakistan, was an especially challenging process.
“I was always told what I could do and what I couldn’t do,” says Humaira. “I was such a rebel though and I just couldn’t conform.”
Humaira grew up in a Muslim family in Karachi, Pakistan. Although her family was not overly religious, the culture affected her upbringing.
Humaira (left) with her siblings and father in Pakistan in 1987.
From a young age, Humaira loved the competitive nature of math and her favorite sport cricket. She excelled at both and was asked to join the national cricket team. When she shared the news with her mother she was told she wouldn’t be able to play cricket anymore because sports were not appropriate for girls.
“It wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t my mother’s fault, it was just the culture. “I didn’t see those restrictions upon my brothers so I knew it was a man’s world.”
It didn’t get any easier for Humaira in her teenage years either. A pre-arranged marriage was determined for her at the age of 15, to an older man who she had never met. Fortunately her parents called it off. “I remember being that 15 year old girl, crying every night and being like God please help me escape this and I will do amazing things with my life.” Two years later there was another proposal that her parents called off again out of fear she would be in a controlling relationship. This time she made a deal with her father that if she got into the best school they would wait to arrange her marriage till after she graduated.
Following her interests in math and problem solving, Humaira decided to pursue a degree in software engineering, a respectable profession for women in Pakistan. She was enjoying school when her parents decided to move the family to Toronto for better opportunities.
Eager to gain work experience like other young people in Canada, Humaira got a job at an IT Company. Once she was able to apply back to school, she transferred her credits into a computer science program at York University and continued working part-time. “I realized I was the only girl in a class of a 160. It was a shock. I was coming from around 40% women in my program to none. All my female friends in Pakistan are either doctors, engineers or lawyers. Even for a submissive society women are really qualified professionals there.”
She also noticed while working all the engineers were male. After months of switching classes and trying to fit in, she decided to go a different direction and switched into communications. “That was really hard because I’d never done anything in communications,” says Humaira. “It was brand new to me.” Humaira’s father didn’t understand her choice to pursue communications as a profession but she credits her communication skills to giving her an advantage. “It really helped me because coming to a new culture I was able to write better and present better,” says Humaira. “For somebody that was an immigrant it was such a valuable skill.”
After five years of living and working in Toronto, she met her husband who lived in Vancouver. She decided to move across the country to be with him.
Humaira with her husband and two daughters at Island View Beach in 2017.
They lived in Vancouver for a year and spent a lot of time visiting the island. Humaira always loved Victoria and suggested they move to be closer to his family. Her husband found a job in tech right away but Humaira didn’t have as much luck. She decided to start her own marketing business for tech companies. One of her first clients was VIATEC, where she worked on the Mustard Seed Food Bank Challenge and helped launch the VAP program.
Although Humaira was doing well in her business and enjoying being a new mom, she was struggling with feelings of isolation. “I was spending time online but I wasn’t making meaningful connections. I was constantly scrolling through social media and feeling depressed. I seemingly had it all but inside I was suffering.”
It was through these really difficult times Humaira was inspired to start Locelle - a platform for women to connect with like-minded women in their area.
“I wanted to easily be able to talk to women that were like me and have a tribe to support me in making good decisions.”
After going through VIATEC’s Accelerator program, Locelle launched its beta in October 2018. Although she had lots of passion, Humaira faced the challenges of most start-ups in securing financing to grow her initiative.
Locelle’s soft launch in Vancouver, October 2018.
“There’s been so many ups and downs. It’s ridiculous how much rejection I’ve faced but to me it’s all a part of the journey. It doesn’t phase me anymore.”
Locelle has been getting lots of attention including being a VIATEC Awards Start-Up of the Year Finalist and featured at Collision, a global tech conference in Toronto. With over 1100 members on its beta and launched in 3 major cities, Humaira has big plans to make Locelle a global community that can help women overcome the stereotypes they often get boxed into.
“We need to break stereotypes from a very young age and acknowledge people for who they are. We all bring our unique strengths and perspectives and we just need to be open to them and not box people up so early on.”
Humaira with her two daughters in Tofino in May 2019.
Humaira believes it starts with setting an example for future generations. She sees Locelle as a way for women to support each other in a safe place, creating opportunities for women to tackle challenges like isolation, self-doubt and gender inequality.
“When other women empower you, you truly feel the sense that I can do this. I’ve been able to overcome so much. I feel empowered in my own life and I want every woman in the world to feel that way.”
ArticleFrom coast to coast, thousands of entrepreneurs pitched their business for a chance to win $100,000. see more
Locelle selected as one of the 2019 TELUS Pitch Top 100 Businesses
From coast to coast, thousands of entrepreneurs pitched their business for a chance to win $100,000. Now it’s time to choose one finalist to make it into our top 10 and could take home $100,000. Who has what it takes? Vote for your favourite. Voting ends July 10.
ArticleThe company was recently selected as a Featured Startup at Collision, a global tech conference. see more
Source: Douglas Magazine
Locelle Aims to Empower Women in STEM
Retention of female employees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields is a major issue — the turnover rate is more than twice as high for women as it is for men, and over 56 per cent of the women in the field quit their jobs mid-career due to isolation, frustration and loneliness.
To address this issue, local company Locelle has developed a location-based networking platform to help women in STEM connect.
The company was recently selected as a Featured Startup at Collision, a global tech conference in Toronto.
ArticleRound 2.5 and Round 3 ventures announced! see more
Source: New Ventures BC
New Ventures BC 2019 - Cuboh, Open Oceans Robotics and Locelle move to next rounds
Congratulations to Cuboh for advancing straight to Round 3 and Open Oceans Robotics and Locelle for moving to Round 2.5 of the New Ventures BC 2019 competition!
The results are in! Our esteemed panel of 64 judges have evaluated the Round 2 submissions. This year was extremely competitive, leaving us with 16 ventures moving directly into Round 3, and 27 ventures pitching in Round 2.5. All scores were analyzed and normalized by Octothorpe software.
Congratulations to all!
Top 16 advancing directly to Round 3 (in alphabetical order)
- Beatdapp, Vancouver
- Cuboh, Victoria
- Farm-Trace, Vancouver
- GT Water Machines, Victoria
- Kranked Bikes, Gibsons
- Lumen5, Vancouver
- Open Oceans Robotics, Victoria
- www.plugzio.com, Coquitlam
- Qase, Vancouver
- Singular Software, Surrey
- SpayVac, North Saanich
- Spectrum, Vancouver
- Spexi Geospatial, Delta
- StoryTap, Coquitlam
- VRSQUARE, Vancouver
- WeVu, Vancouver
Round 2.5 (in alphabetical order)
- Acacia Power Solutions, Coquitlam
- Advertaze, Vancouver
- BiKube, Vancouver
- Biointeractive Technologies, Vancouver
- Brave Technology Coop, Vancouver
- c3d, West Vancouver
- Caera Therapy, Vancouver
- CityHack Corporation, Vancouver
- Flexchanger Technologies
- Flowlink Environmental, Richmond
- GoodNet.io, Vancouver
- Just Practice, Vancouver
- Koonkie, Vancouver
- LincEdge, Vancouver
- Locelle Digital, North Saanich
- Manage Petro, North Vancouver
- NiceJob, Vancouver
- Persistence AI, Vancouver
- QiiQ Healthcare, Vancouver
- Quantify, Vancouver
- REITIUM Blockchain Technologies, Vancouver
- ShapeMeasure, Vancouver
- SparkLink, Kamloops
- Speakbox, Vancouver
- Vancouver Computer Vision, Vancouver
- WeDoLaundry, Vancouver
- WeWell, North Vancouver
The top 16 companies advance directly to Round 3. The remaining 27 teams will enter Round 2.5, where they will pitch for a chance to advance. The top nine ventures from this pitch day will join Round 3, creating our Top 25!
Round 2.5 pitches happen June 14. Our final Round 3 ventures will be announced on June 17.
Good luck to all of the teams!
Article196 BC tech companies are moving on to Round 2 of the NVBC competition. see more
Source: New Ventures BC
196 BC tech companies are moving on to Round 2 of the NVBC competition.
Local Victoria companies including Cuboh, LetHub, Live It, Locelle and Orpheus Key are in the running.
The 2019 New Ventures BC Competition presented by Innovate BC has officially begun! This year they received a record breaking number of applications by the competition deadline on April 10th, over 200 in fact! 196 BC tech companies are moving on to Round 2 of the competition.
Victoria entries included:
Locelle Digital Inc.
HRG Infrastructure Monitoring Inc.
orpheuskey Research and Development Inc.
VIZVA AGROTECH LTD
BoatKey Enterprises Inc.
Open Ocean Robotics
Anvy Technologies Inc.
Build A Better Earth Movement
GT Water Machines Inc.
What's next for the competitors?
The 196 ventures will attend educational seminars and on May 6 the companies will submit a venture plan and pitch. Stay tuned for more info!
Humaira Ahmed, CEO and Founder of Locelle (/lōk-el/) see more
20 Mile Podcast: Humaira Ahmed, Locelle
Opening Doors through Sheer Passion (S1, E2)
In episode 2 of 20Mile’s season 1, we sat down with Humaira Ahmed, CEO and Founder of Locelle (/lōk-el/) - A location based women only social networking platform.
Humaira tells us her story, from being raised in Pakistan and challenging cultural norms to fit her vision, to moving to Canada with her family at a young age and her march towards empowering women entrepreneurs.
OUR TEAM IS EXCITED TO BRING YOU SEASON 1 OF THE 20MILE PODCAST IN JANUARY 2019! WE ARE CURRENTLY RECORDING EPISODES FOR OUR FIRST SEASON. WHO ARE OUR GUESTS? SEASON 1 WILL SHOWCASE A SMALL PORTION OF THE ABUNDANT LOCAL TALENT WE HAVE HERE, IN VICTORIA BC. ATTENDING TO A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT INDUSTRIES, OUR GUESTS WILL TELL WHAT THEIR MARCHES HAVE BEEN LIKE SO FAR, FROM PERSONAL STRUGGLES TO PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGES, EACH MARCH IS UNIQUE YET RELATABLE.
Among the semi-finalists are Victoria's own Barnacle Systems (BRNKL) and Locelle Digital Inc see more
Barnacle Systems and Locelle make it to Small Business BC's Top 10 Best Concept List
The Small Business BC Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of BC's entrepreneurs. These awards are a celebration of the contributions small business owners make to their local communities and to the global economy. It's free to enter and open to all new and existing small businesses in BC.
The votes have been tallied and the Top 10 Semi-Finalists for the 2019 Small Business BC Awards have been announced. Among the semi-finalists are Victoria's own Barnacle Systems (BRNKL) and Locelle Digital Inc, both of which are in the Top 10 for Best Concept. See the Top 10s for each category right here.
- As a Top 10 finalist, they'll be given one month to provide the expert panel of judges a more detailed application outlining why they deserve to win the award. These applications will be assessed to narrow down competition to the Top 5 finalists.
- Come February 4th, the Top 5 in each category will be required to make a ten minute pitch explaining why their business trumps the other finalists in their category. If they can convince the judges that their business really is the best, then they’ll be selected as the winner.
- February 21st: Awards Gala! Each winner will be recognized with a cash prize in the amount of $1,500, a one-year all-access pass to Small Business BC education resources and experts, business mentorship from the award sponsor and the opportunity for extensive media exposure.
About Barnacle Systems:
Barnacle Systems Inc. is a boat security and monitoring company based in Victoria. Founded in 2017, the team at Barnacle has developed an innovative new surveillance product for the marine industry called BRNKL.
BRNKL is for boat owners who need to be able to check in on their vessel remotely from their smartphone, tablet, or computer. BRNKL is also for yacht monitoring and charter companies who need a simple dashboard outlining the health and status of all their boats.
Like a ‘home security system for your boat’ users can see inside of their vessel(s) using an onboard camera while also monitoring critical alerts such as anchor drag, low batteries, loss of shore power and high-water. Unlike standard marine electronics that provide monitoring while you’re on board, BRNKL has a built-in global cellular service. So, whether you’re at the dock, at home, or halfway around the world your boat is at your fingertips.
About Locelle Digtial:
Locelle is a next-generation women-only networking platform providing a safer and easier way to meet up with like-minded women (friends, mentors, business connections). Unlike Facebook, Bumble, Meetups, Slack and other platforms, we create real connections by finding nearby matches based on interests, location, activities and time using our proprietary technology. Our business model is B2B2C with users from SAP, Microsoft, IBM on the platform.
Companies have challenges attracting and retaining women employees, especially in the current social environment, where movements like #metoo and #timesup bring about diversity and inclusion initiatives. Highly topical for the above challenge is social isolation, which affects millions of women around the world and have chronic long-term condition in terms of impact they have on health & well being. Since launching a month ago, Locelle has already made many meaningful connections for women in Victoria and Vancouver.
Locelle, nominated for Small Business BC Awards, "Best Community Impact," "Best Concept" and is open to public voteLocelle, nominated for Small Business BC Award, "Best Community Impact" and is open to public vote see more
Locelle, nominated for Small Business BC Awards, "Best Community Impact," "Best Concept" and is open to public vote
Locelle, a networking platform for professional women, was founded by Humaira Ahmed, after she had her second child. She was increasingly feeling socially isolated and depressed and needed an easier way to connect with like-minded women who lived closeby.
With current social networking space, people spend more time online than offline and are becoming increasingly lonely. With no easy way to find and meet up with like-minded women at the time, Humaira founded Locelle. With a background in Software Engineering and Marketing, she knew she could pull it off. The platform launched in October 2018 after 10 months of hard work, and has hundreds of professional women using the platform in Victoria and Vancouver. Women from big tech companies are especially using the platform as they feel isolated in male dominated space, and feel the need to meet other like-minded women locally. Women are making meaningful connections and the platform aims to tackle social isolation amongst local women.
As a driven entrepreneur, she wanted to meet other ambitious, hard-working women. see more
Author: Karin Olafson
Photography: Courtesy of Humaira Ahmed
A Made-In-Victoria Social Networking App Aims to Tackle Loneliness Among Local Women
Two years ago, Humaira Ahmed, the founder of Locelle Digital Inc., struggled to make meaningful connections while she was on maternity leave with her second daughter. As a driven entrepreneur, she wanted to meet other ambitious, hard-working women. But she had trouble finding them.
“I realized that meeting like-minded women easily is a challenge,” says Ahmed. “Not everyone is an extrovert, meet-ups can be hard and intimidating, and other online platforms aren’t always successful.”
Personal experiences, and the fact that feelings of loneliness and isolation are known to be increasingly problematic, Ahmed began thinking of what a women-only social networking platform would look like and how it could make forming meaningful friendships a little easier.