For many women the prospect of founding their own company is more exciting than an ordinary career in business. In this blog series we want to find out about the entrepreneurial spirit that drives these women and the ideas they pursue. Learn how they got started, their experience as female founders, and what they wish they’d known before entering the start-up world.
Most standard bicycle helmets are not only a fashion no-go, but also a guarantee to ruin any hairstyle, don’t they? This is not the case for ‘Radkappe‘ helmets – they stand out by the lively coloring and design and through an opening at the back of the head – a lifeline for each bun, braid or ponytail. Janna Horstmann was tired of choosing between either safety or style when cycling through the urban jungle and founded Radkappe in 2013! Today, she gives us some insights on her entrepreneurial journey.
Janna, what motivated you to found “Radkappe”?
I use my bicycle every day and have worn a helmet since my childhood. I’ve often wondered why there were no dressy, hair-friendly bicycle helmets. From my own experience I knew that I wanted a cutout on the rear part of the helmet to allow me to put my hair in a ponytail when out cycling.
Looking back, how difficult was it to bring your idea of the helmets to life?
The first steps after founding radkappe GmbH were the 3D-modeling of the prototype and the registration of the property rights (registered design and brand). Then I started my search for a proper producer and found one in China. The first prototypes were manufactured but we still had some details to refine. After these changes we produced the second prototype, which corresponds to the current model of radkappe. Ten of these prototypes have been successfully tested in the SGS labs and met the European security standards (EN1078). The next step was the release of the mass production. I received the first helmets of the series to make photos for marketing measures e.g. catalogue and promotional products. The website was established during the production and the shipping of the helmets. It has been online since April 2014. In spring 2014 I started the dealer canvassing.
What have been you personal highlights of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
One of the best moments was the first time I held a product in my hands which only exists because of my idea, design and work. Another great moment was acquiring the first dealer who was enthusiastic about my helmets. I also faced some challenges, e.g. the negotiations in China, the scrap rate of the first charge despite a quality control before shipment and the extension of the dealership.
You mentioned that you also faced some challenges. How do you deal with doubts and fears?
I am fortunate enough to be able to have security during my venture through my other job as a freelance SAP consultant. I am, however, committed to the concept of a bicycle helmet which combines elegance and safety. I would rather have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.
Do you have some recommendations to other women who have Startup ideas?
Find strong partners, obtain a lot of feedback and know-how (if necessary buy external) and the most important recommendation: hold out! For me it was very helpful to write a business plan, meet other start-ups and share experiences. My motto was: “Why not?” – If you have a really good idea and there are no reasons to not realize it: Just do it!
You’re one of the rare species called Women Entrepreneurs. Why do you think there are so few female founders?
As I mostly work with men – both in my job as SAP consultant and in most of the concerns of radkappe GmbH – I can’t say a lot about other self-employed women and female founders. I assume that there are a lot of women with great ideas who don’t dare to found their own company due to the lack of a secure income and the potential incompatibility with children. At the same time, a lot of women are not as convinced of their ideas as their male counterparts. But at the end it is not a question of sex but of entrepreneurial spirit.
So, do female founders require a special set of skills to get prepared for the startup world?
Of course you’ll need some entrepreneurial spirit as well as some know how to found a start-up company. But at least the know-how is something you can build up or buy externally. There are more important aspects from my point of view: the belief in your own idea and some professional self-confidence.
Do you have any advice for aspiring founders attending Startup Weekend Women Hamburg?
The best pieces of advice I can offer aspiring founders are to write and calculate a business plan and to build a network between start-ups. In Hamburg there are many institutions offering help and organizing networking opportunities. It’s really worth joining them.
Thank you Janna for the Interview!
You want to build your own startup? Build a startup in one weekend and put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur! Join us at Startup Weekend Women, April 10-12 in Hamburg. If you have a business idea, great! If you don’t have a business idea, join anyway! You can help bring other ideas to life. Guys are welcome, too! Stay tuned for more updates and interviews via our Facbook Page.