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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.

women entrepreneurs in focus

In 2013 Sina Gritzuhn, Sanja Stankovic and Tim Jaudszims decided to found “Hamburg Startups” to enhance the visibility of Hamburg’s startup scene as well as to improve networking among it’s players. Along with extraordinary event editions such as Startups@Reeperbahn pitch, Sina, Sanja and Tim are busy creating a platform transparently displaying all Startups founded and based in Hamburg. Furthermore the team wishes to improve international relevance of Hamburg as a startup hub by monitoring the economical developments of it’s startups on regular basis. We met Sina and Sanja to ask them about their experience of building Hamburg Startups – a Startup itself:

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Sina and Sanja, what motivated you to found “Hamburg Startups“?
Bildschirmfoto 2014-01-18 um 08.54.49Sina: By the end of 2013 the three of us, Sanja Stankovic, Tim Jaudszims and myself decided to combine our strengths and networks in order to enhance the visibility and the networking of the Hamburg Startup Scene. We wanted to break the barriers between the different Startup Cluster that were quite actively networking among themselves but not among each other. This led to a very diverse and fragmented startup ecosystem. Another problem was the lack of transparency about the Startups founded in Hamburg. No-one actually knew how many startups were founded here, neither about the different industries they were acting in. Let alone about the economical impact. The three of us wanted to help to change all this. With a platform, where you find news about Startups, the Startups themselves, Startup Stakeholder in a who’s who and of course possibilities to meet up and get connected.

Wow, that sounds like a big task! How difficult was it to bring your idea to life?
Sina: It took us about two weeks! Set up of our website was quick and we had our first event after 2 weeks after we decided to found a company. After that we started to build the platform. Do take a look at our review of the last year.
Sanja: Fundamentally the sustainable development is the key. The idea is important, the execution is much more and the secret of success.

Are there any highlights or challenges you faced along the way, that you want to share with us?
Sina: Victories – we convinced 248 Startups to take part in the Hamburg Startup Monitor within 2 months time. We organized 11 own events with more than 1800 guest in summary, gained 2400 twitter follower, 3100 facebook Follower, wrote 200 Blogpost about Hamburgs Startups, reached more than 45.00 unique users with our content. That was a great deal of work, but we grow to the most frequented platform for founders in Hamburg and even compared to other local platforms in other cities we’re even better in what we’re doing. The Challenges on the other hand are quite clearly time and money. It’s only myself working full-time on this project and Tim and Sanja still have their other projects to care for. Raising money is a second Challenge, as our business model is mainly based on sponsoring.
Sanja: What Sina is saying.

You mentioned the difficulty of e.g. raising money. How do you deal with uncertainty, doubts & fears?
Sina: Well, breath deeply and after that keep on doing what’s right. 😉
Sanja: Yes! And an overconfidence in the great team and the different competences. Teamwork is everything!

Do you have any recommendations for other women who have startup ideas?
Sina: Get on with it, make a business out of it and if it doesn’t work, never mind! Try something else.  It’s an impressive feeling being your own boss and create something on your own with you own team. It’s worth trying!
Did you ever felt less esteemed? Then just go ahead and do your own thing. It is an awesome feeling 😉

Due to Hamburg Startup Monitor only 13% of founders are female. There are even less female Business Angel or VC – why are there so few women entrepreneurs?
Sina: I think we still lack female founders as role models. Women like Lea-Sophie Cramer of Amorelie, Andrea Pfundmeier of boxcryptor or Dr. Diana Knodel of AppCamps. Female entrepreneurs who keep on doing what they love, never mind which risks it might take. If its part of the normal business, other women don’t feel alone in entrepreneurship and dare the step into the founding experience.
Sanja: I am trying to found an answer for that question for a long time and i have just presumptions: perhaps some women are afraid, not risky enough or they are missing the right support? I am sure the lack of ideas is not the problem and i am pretty sure, that we have to change that fact. Thanks to #SWWHH 🙂

In your experience, what do you think is more important, “professional skills” or “entrepreneurial spirit”?
Sina: I think a set of different experiences helps. You live, you learn. Same with entrepreneurship. Both skills are helpful. I think it doesn’t matter which sex you are – all have equal challenges. It helps a lot, when you ask others for help. Get in touch with other entrepreneurs, maybe they worked out answers to problems you’re still facing. And that’s a female skill – asking for the right direction, isn’t it? So we’re skilled in openness and communication!
Sanja: It is all about what you want!

Do you want to share some advice for aspiring founders attending SWWHH?
Sina: Enjoy! Enjoy the spirit which is set free during these 54 hours. You won’t be the same person after that! It opens your eyes towards your possibilities and your strengths! You will learn more in one weekend than during an internship! And if you founded your own Startup after that, do join the Hamburg Startup Monitor! 😉
Sanja: .

Thank you Sina and Sanja 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 the 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.


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Theresa Grotendorst