Los Angeles based Female Entrepreneurs Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer set up an art marketplace online to sell original work but had problems hiring web developers and graphic designers to work with them on their Witchsy Website. They came up with the idea to create a fake male co-founder to get both respect and get the work done.

No respect from developers to the two female entrepreneurs

Gazin and Dwyer came up with the idea for their Witchsy art website after Etsy kept censoring their work. They decided to set up a marketplace where artists could sell their witchcraft-related work, but as women in a tech field, they had problems getting web developers and graphic designers to take them seriously.

As reported by the International Business Times, Dwyer said the collaborators they needed to set up their website all work in a male-dominated tech world and took their time to reply, while often being rude and cold. One developer even went so far as to not use their names in their emails, using the term “OK girls” instead.

Ladies create an imaginary male co-founder and things change

Dwyer said there are not many women in tech at the moment, leading to male dominance in the field. However, after they decided to come up with “Keith Mann,” an imaginary and fake male co-founder, suddenly things changed and they starting getting some respect. According to the two ladies, the replies they received to "Keith's" emails came through faster and with less condescension on the part of the male developers.

And it worked so well. Dwyer said the imaginary co-founder would send out emails to chase matters up and ask the status of the work and the responses were always pretty quick.

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She also noted that, unlike with their own emails, Keith was always addressed by name and there was a definite difference in the tone of the responses.

Start-up is making profit after its first year

While Gazin and Dwyer refused to get angry over having to use subterfuge to get the job done, their imaginary co-worker has made plenty of progress.

Their start-up has now been running for a year and is making a profit. Witchsy has sold around $200,000 worth of dark-humored and offbeat art from several different artists online, all of whom receive 80 percent of the money earned for their work.

Dwyer told Fast Company magazine in an interview that their experience was “part of this world that we're in right now." However she said that while bringing in a male co-founder helped the business take off and run, their “ultimate goal” is to make a change in people’s attitudes towards women in the tech field. Saying the developers were a necessary part of getting their website up and running, they added that without Keith they would never have made any progress.

However she closed by saying that now Witchsy is established and running, they can send Keith on vacation.

A typical example of what the two female entrepreneurs had to face was the recent news about a Google employee, who lost his job after saying women were not suited to tech. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai said the employee’s email, which said biological differences were the reason for fewer women working at Google, broke their code of conduct.