What changes can possibly be made within 54 hours? Our initial goals when we began planning the Startup Weekend Women Hamburg were simple and humble:
1. Have our participants give it all their best at the Startup Weekend Women, so that in the end they would be pitching a viable product with a good business plan and a neat design. In order to achieve that goal, we tried hard thinking out of the box. From daycare for their kids to healthy smoothies after breakfast, from mouth-watering caterings to yoga breaks, we came up with all sorts of little benefits to help the participants feel at ease at all times so they could fully concentrate on their work.
2. Regarding the title of the event, we particularly aimed to flip the usual ratio of 70% male to only 30% female participants by encouraging more women to at least give entrepreneurship a try, and in the long run provide for more equality amongst Hamburg’s founders.
The outcome knocked it out of the park and totally blew us away. Not only did we have 80% female participants, proving that if there’s a platform given for women they will actually use it. But the cherry on the cake was the kindest possible feedback we received from both male and female participants, the press, various supporters and even people amongst our organizing team. Many had been to plenty of startup events before, and have stated that this was by far the best.
We are more than excited to hear from many teams that they have continued working on their ideas together. This is truly more than we could have ever hoped for.
So here’s to all courageous, innovative and creative minds who came to our event and have continued inspiring us since. Yes, that’s right. The Startup Weekend Women continues. This year’s event may be over but due its impact we couldn’t help but keep on working on the idea. Even though there had been a few Startup Weekends targeted at women before, the progress has been rather slow since its first event. That made us think what we can do to make a real change.
So what’s next? Another Startup Weekend Women Hamburg would be greatly welcomed by many people, that’s for sure. But maybe we can achieve even more: How awesome would it be to set the ball rolling for a global movement that follows our example?
When years ago German born startup expert Ira Tittler was casually asked to take part in the regular Startup Weekend Hamburg, she figured there was nothing to lose so she did. Now working for a globally successful startup in New York City, she considers her experience of the event to be an eye opener for possibilities in the startup scene and tech companies that can change the world.
Last year she was involved in the Startup Weekend San Francisco, though this time not as a participant but a coach. According to her observations, although there were plenty of powerful women with good pitches, both Startup Weekend Hamburg and San Francisco were clearly male dominated.
Sadly, she says, the same applies for the private sector: Particularly tech-oriented businesses are still mostly led by men. However she confidently adds: „But the number of women getting active in the startup community and on ideas is growing.“
Sounds like it’s about time to support those individuals, doesn’t it?
So far, there have been Startup Weekends with a special edition for women only in Seattle, Vancouver, Guayaquil, Stuttgart, and of course now also in Hamburg but not in major startup cities such as San Francisco, New York City and London.
Given her insights, Ira predicts a huge change for the so-called “Silicon Alley”, New York City’s Silicon Valley if you will, where things are moving fast and the startup community shows significant growth: “I think a Startup Weekend Women can be an enrichment,” she says. The increasing number of startup initiatives convinces her that an event “being specifically targeted to women might stand out from other options for young innovators.”
We feel ready for that challenge and are filled with happiness and gratitude that this event set a milestone in the history of Startup Weekends. Thanks to the outstanding spirit during the event, the kick-ass pitches, all those great new friends, and the wonderful feedback, we all have grown and become richer.
We learned that creativity knows no gender.
We learned that whatever we do, we should do it with passion.
We learned that if we do things with passion, we are able to inspire and empower individuals much greater than with a mere schedule.
And most importantly: We learned that there is a lot more to come, and it will. The Startup Weekend Women was just the beginning of a new era where the startup scene will soon be equalized, and many more creative minds will bring their ideas to fruition.
With this in mind let’s say it one more time and shout it out to the world: