On April 10th will be the kick off to Startup Weekend Women – 54 hours for building businesses from simple ideas. Participants will have the opportunity to find the right people with complementary skills & the passion to build a startup in one weekend. It doesn’t matter if participants are form companies, actually look for a cofounder or just sense it could be a good thing to learn a skill far outside your usual 9-to-5 job, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups.
At least that’s what the organisers say. Startup Weekend Women Hamburg is first of its kind in the Hamburg Startup Weekend community. We were curious about it. Eshani Sarma and Heide Peukert are organising the Event at Gründerwerft we asked them a few questions
Hello you two! Could you please give a quick introductory about yourselves and what you are doing apart form organizing Startup Events!
Heide: I am a Product Manager at Njiuko writing Product concepts and bringing them to life with my Team. My passion is organizing and facilitating Startup Weekends. I initiated Startup Weekend Women because I believe in the ideas and spirit of (female) entrepreneurs. My goal is to encourage women to follow their dreams giving them a platform and an opportunity to become a successful founder.
Eshani: By profession, I am an Innovation Manager at Hako Group. I facilitate innovation projects that is inline with our corporate strategy. I am also a social entrepreneur by passion helping employed professionals to discover their entrepreneurial dreams and follow them. Interestingly, most of these professionals I helped happen to be women who wants to start their own business!
We all know Startup Weekend, especially that one in Hamburg. What was the reason for you to start a Startup Weekend just for women?
If you go to any regular Startup Weekend, one thing you can’t miss : the number of women participants are always very low. Why? Its not that women lacks good startup ideas, but they mostly feel intimidated to pitch them. We can’t blame them, it’s a cultural thing – startups are mainly considered a male domain. My vision for Startup Weekend Women is to change such traditional views on startup culture – give women founders the spotlight, encourage the aspiring ones. And that’s why we invite both men and women to participate, but stressing more on female participation.
A few people stated that it might be much better to attract more women to the regular Startup Weekend in Mai, why do you think there’s a need for a own one?
We feel that Startup Weekend Women is like a warm-up for the regular Startup Weekend. Besides providing free childcare facility during the event for particpants with kids, we are creating an environment where women feel comfortable to work on their ideas and also get them connected to the best resources available to build these ideas.
Sometimes women just need an encouraging Event like this to discover their abilities and the potential of themselves and their ideas. They’ll see that its so much fun! And I am sure they will be more than eager to join the regular SW in Mai.
What does your strategy look like to attract enough female founders and those to be?
Our strategy is to create more opportunites for our female founders. We will share with them inspiring stories of other female founders – not from Silicon Valley, but from our beloved Hamburg. “Entrepreneurship may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if few brave women from among us have been there and done it..so can you!” – is the message we want to put forward with a special blog series. We want to get out there. Be present. At events and also with media like you.
We welcome warmly all participants. In addition to that we also plan to organize some pre-events to help female founders network, interact and get trained for startup world. Finally during the event, we want to bring in entrepreneurs, experts from various startup fields to mentor our participants, and also give them valuable feedbacks from a powerful board of jury members.
Due to Hamburg Startup Monitor only 11% of founders are female. There are even less female Business Angel or VC – why do you think Startup business is still such a male domain?
Two main reasons – how we view startups and lack of networking.
Women led businesses tend to be informal, home-based and concentrated in the areas of small-scale entrepreneurship like retail and service. This system works for most women founders because it gives them the flexibilty of balancing their startup work with housework and childcare responsibilities.
Although these business are making profits and helping the economy, they are not given the same spotlight as the traditional, formal startups. So unless we create a platform to showcase women run businesses, and connect the founders with influencers, how will we manage to make startup a female domain as well?
Networking plays an important role for an entrepreneur, but if you go to any startup networking event, you’ll see low or almost no female participation. Difficulty of breaking into men’s networks has been one of the most important constraints for female founders.
Trying to solve such problems is the aim of Startup Weekend Women Hamburg – give our female founders a platform to showcase their business acumen irrespective of type of business , and also give them a chance to network with the best talents in the city.
Tell us something about what the participants are going to find at Startup Weekend!
Startup Weekend Women Hamburg will be a safe haven for those who have shyed away so far from realizing their startup ideas. We will provide them with amazing working space, brain fuel, healthy food and drinks, free childcare, mentors and loads of learning experience.
To prepare our participants better for the weekend, we are organizing some informative, interesting pre-event sessions. We also have lined up loads of swags, surprise gifts and prizes for our participants to win during the event.
What do you need to make it a success for everyone?
Our team is working very hard to give the best of experience to our participants. We need our prospective participants to take the leap of faith and join the event to realize their business ideas. We are also looking for interesting proposals from local sponsors who are willing to join hands with us in making a dent in women entrepreneurship in Hamburg.
We’ll see us there! Thanks for the interview!
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