Women in Tech: Sophie Knowles
Hi Sophie, tell me a little bit about yourself and PDF Pro.
I’m a British software engineer working for a technology company. I’m the founder of PDF Pro , an online PDF editing service. I started it as a side business because I couldn’t find a website with a range of useful PDF editing tools. Now the website has around 180,000 users a month, all getting their PDF work done! I hope to be able to leave my day job and work full-time on PDF Pro very soon.
What were you doing before you decided to create PDF Pro?
Before PDF Pro, I was working as a software engineer and itching to start my own business. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I also wanted to wait until I had a great idea. When I was struggling to get my PDF work done online, I knew I had found “the idea”!
Getting involved in Tech is still a new thing for women, what was the motivation for you?
Actually women have always been a part of the technology industry, starting with Ada Lovelace who was technically the first computer programmer! Saying that, the industry is obviously male-dominated right now and I am happy to be a small part of changing the demographic.
How have you found your journey so far and what has been your greatest accomplishment?
The journey has been quite rocky! Mostly because it has been a lot of hard work and I had to give up a lot of my social life to start the business. I had to use my free time to build the software so it was a big time investment. My greatest accomplishment has probably been helping our customers get their work done. There are plenty of users who use the site every working day, which makes me very proud.
What has been the most challenging thing so far?
The most challenging part was growing our traffic. To be recognised by Google as a useful website takes a lot of time! You have to be patient and allow your website to grow.
Do you think more women should get involved in Tech and why?
Yes of course, I don’t think there is any reason why men should dominate the tech industry. I truly believe that women can code just as well as men. Further to this, I really think that women (and men!) should take the risk and try entrepreneurship. Success as an entrepreneur is all down to talent, gender doesn’t really come into it. PDF Pro users have no idea that the site was founded by a woman!
What advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs who are stuck on an idea?
Don’t start a business unless you really believe in an idea! Try to use the skills and knowledge you have from your current job or interests to form your idea. There are plenty of ideas out there if you keep an open mind.
What does it mean to be a female tech entrepreneur?
As I mentioned before, being an entrepreneur is great because there is barely any gender bias. Therefore female entrepreneurs shouldn’t focus on being a “woman in tech”, but rather on being a successful entrepreneur. I love the independence of running my own business and the flexibility it offers.
Overview of how PDF Pro works:
PDF Pro aims to solve all your PDF editing needs. Users upload their PDF files and use a range of features to edit them. Users can erase and add text to a PDF, rotate pages, delete pages, merge PDFs, convert PDF to Word, and much more!
We offer 3 free file downloads per month so that users can test out our site. Then we offer monthly or annual subscriptions for unlimited use of all our features.