Meet the Sacramento mom on Fast Company's list of 100 most creative people in business

It's no secret that the tech industry has a bit of a gender problem. Only 9 percent of entrepreneurs are women. (June 5, 2017)

It's no secret that the tech industry has a bit of a gender problem. Only 9 percent of entrepreneurs are women.

That's why when we saw that a Sacramento mom made it on Fast Company's list of 100 Most Creative People in Business -- we wanted to meet her.

Sheri Atwood is the founder and CEO of SupportPay -- a digital platform that helps parents manage child support expenses.

"Our goal today is never talk to your ex about money again," she told ABC10 during an interview at her hip East Sac office.

Atwood, a former Silicon Valley executive, started SupportPay in 2011 after going through a divorce of her own and realizing the challenges of child support.

"The only time I ever saw him was when we were exchanging [our daughter] and all of the conversations turned into 'you owe me this money' or 'you owe me $25 for this or $75 for that,'" she explained, referring to her ex-husband. "And I'm like, 'there has to be a better way.'"

Now, six years and roughly $7 million in investments later, Atwood says nearly 50,000 parents around the world are using the app.

It wasn't until last year that Atwood decided to move SupportPay's headquarters to Sacramento.

"What I realized was I couldn’t sustain the business or grow the business in Silicon Valley," she said. "The problem was yeah there's a lot of people there, a lot of tech talent, but the moment that they would come they would get super excited about the company and about six months later the Google or the LinkedIn would hand them more cash and they’d leave."

She thought about moving to Seattle, Washington, Austin, Texas, or Raleigh, North Carolina, but then Sacramento came calling.

Atwood was the first recipient of Sacramento's innovation grant, which provides start-ups money and resources if they move to the city.

"I came up here and I I just fell in love with it," Atwood said. "I would be the first to say my expectations were far over-exceeded. What is going on here and the buzz and the people and everything is just something that I didn’t actually think existed anywhere.

"So, I've been incredible happy being here," she added.

Atwood's success has not come without its challenges, however.

Asked whether she's faced any hardships as a woman in the industry, Atwood just laughed.

"It's kind of like, which challenges have we not had?" she retorted. "I've had everything from 'prove to me you actually code'... to 'are you sure you can do this as a single mom?'... I've heard it all."

Even so, she's proud of her accomplishments.

"It means a lot and I think especially to my daughter," she said about her successes as a woman. "It hasn't been easy. Its been a long road... but now to be where we are today and to be able to show my daughter look -- through hard work anything is actually possible."

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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