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9 October, 2019 - 19:20 By Kate Sweeney

King bids to become queen of women entrepreneurs

Martina King FeatureSpace

Martina King, the CEO of Cambridge machine learning company Featurespace, is a contender for the coveted Woman Entrepreneur of the Year crown in Business Weekly’s 30th anniversary awards. The accolade is once again sponsored by the university’s Cambridge Judge Business School.

Featurespace‘s technology is helping global financial businesses identify and repel online fraud in real time. King has steered Featurespace to become the world’s leading provider of Adaptive Behavioural Analytics technology for fraud and risk management since taking the reins in 2012. 

That was four years after the company launched and King has now also taken the company into a thriving enterprise in the United States where headcount and contracts are rocketing.

King is a hot gospeller for female entrepreneurship and has taken several hammers to the glass ceiling. Rather than bow to the City’s apparent ‘men only’ regime, she has passionately campaigned for more women to challenge the status quo.

She came to Featurespace with the best of credentials – and has proved another great woman executive find for Cambridge entrepreneur Dr Mike Lynch. She excelled as managing director of augmented reality company Aurasma, which was part of Lynch’s Autonomy regime.

King has an extensive career in media technology, including leadership roles at Yahoo! Europe and Capital Radio. She was named one of the Top 40 powerful women in tech by Silicon Republic.

In a no-nonsense interview with PaymentsSource, King said: “Gender bias is definitely not something new and, sadly, not something that has come and gone.

“I don’t believe that men actively campaign to keep women down; my experience is that, like many organisations, some men are hesitant to embrace and effect change.”

She added in an insight piece in London’s Evening Standard: “I found inspiration in Caroline Marland, the former managing director of The Guardian. 

“She was the first female managing director of a British national newspaper. She crashed through every glass ceiling placed above her. The rest of us just followed. I would urge more women to aim for the very top in industry because the opportunity is very much there. You won’t believe how many career opportunities exist for women in every sector. 

“We are likely to live for ages, so I advise young women stay in education for as long as possible. And follow adventurer Bear Grylls’ advice: “never, ever, ever, ever, give up.”

King has lived through a number of recessions. The one that started in 2008 was by far the worst, she says. “I’ve learnt through the years that people who attack a recession or invest in a downturn tend to prosper when growth returns.

“Without that awful recession, I might not have taken new risks which have been some of the most challenging, exciting and fulfilling of my career.

“I would advise budding women entrepreneurs: Use your brain, it is incredible how few people engage it fully at work: think like your customers. There is still no substitute for hard work.

“To woman bosses, hire people who are much better than you, give them space to shine and credit when they do. And try to maintain a sense of humour in stressful situations.”

The reigning Business Weekly Woman Entrepreneur of the Year is Poppy Gustafsson of Cambridge cyber security business, Darktrace who has also urged more women in business to relentlessly aim for the pinnacle.

Darktrace has a great track record in promoting C-level women executives and is one of Cambridge’s  hallowed unicorn businesses with a valuation exceeding $1billion.

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