By Richard Burnett
Beth Caffera has made a living by taking people into “the cloud.” The Orlando telecom expert and chief executive officer of Cloud 3C LLC sets up phone- and Internet-based services for clients big and small.
She started Cloud 3C mostly because she liked the idea of being her own boss — the same reason most people become entrepreneurs.
But she also chose that autonomy over navigating the typically male-dominated structure of big technology companies.
“There’s definitely still a good-old-boy network,” she said. “Do I think more women are starting their own business because they don’t want to fight it in corporate America? Yes, I do believe that. But there is still plenty of opportunity out there for women business owners.”
Caffera is part of a surge of women entrepreneurs in Central Florida technology industries in recent years, local experts say.
Their products run the gamut, from gaming software and nano-medicine to sensor technology and GPS analysis software.
One of the hotbeds of women-led tech startups is the business incubator at Central Florida Research Park, which includes Caffera’s company.
Since 2012, the number of firms led by female CEOs has hit a record at the incubator, which is part of the University of Central Florida. Nearly 30 percent of its 54 companies are now headed by women — more than double what it was a couple of years ago, said Carol Ann Dykes, director of the incubator.
“We’ve seen continuous growth in these companies involving a wide variety of technologies,” she said. “It’s been very encouraging to see because the tech fields traditionally have been difficult for women to really grow their companies and have the same opportunities that men have. Fortunately, we seem to be making some progress in that area now.”