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.
Almost a year ago I had the opportunity of meeting Christiane in the Carpe Diem Camp in Hamburg. It was a great experience! I spoke to her there very little but I paid attention to her session about how to do your own Business Canvas Model. I realized that she definitely knew what she was talking about although I had no idea she already had something big in mind. A while later she contacted me and she said she had an App in mind. That is great news!- I said. I work myself in the App and mobile world at Appmotion and I find it very exiting to hear about new projects.
This one of Christiane, which is in the pre-founding stage, is called JobDigga. As every business idea it comes from the need of finding a solution for a problem. This is an App kids could use to find out their strength and interests for the job market by playfully answering questions to various job missions. They won’t need to reply anymore the frightening question: “what do you want to do when you grow up?”. Once the kids like their own profile they can publish it with the permission of their parents and make it visible for certain companies. The talent acquisition staff of HR people specialized on apprentice candidates can screen these job profile and contact the kids in question. This is called active sourcing and considered as future in talent acquisition. Because the team of JobDigga feel that this process will be more satisfying and saving resources on the company’s side, their business model is that kids play for free and companies pay for the matching service and displaying their job profiles.
But now let´s ask directly Christiane how is she doing in this entrepreneurship trip.
Hi Christiane, let me ask you something: what motivated you to have your own Start Up?
After I was employed as Director Human Resources and Corporate Communications at a middle sized bank I was stunned to see how difficult it was for us to find the right candidates for our apprenticeships. As a former Television Production Executive and skilled Social Media Person I had the feeling, that a crossmedia webTV show would be a great way to select potential candidates and to inspire other kids to get interested in their career planning early. But then we found out that GenZ is not willing to share these kinds of experiences that might include failure. So in a workshop in May 2014 called “Rethinking ambitiousTV” we decided to produce a smartphone app instead. A few weeks alter we pitched for a program called “Social Impact Start” (SIS), a German scholar ship for social start-ups. We got selected and received much support from Social Business Specialists and SAP, the main sponsor of the SIS program. Now we are in a situation that we have produced our first demo, a kind of protype that we presented to the public the first time at the Social Media Week in Hamburg this year.
And, from your experience, how difficult is it to bring your idea to life?
It is not difficult to find people interested in and skilled for working for JobDigga (that we still like to keep on a project status for now). I have a wonderful team, and it is amazing how we work together promptly without meeting much in person.
But it is very difficult to find business angels or investors that are interested in a social startup and HR topics that are relevant for building a diverse society. Most people seam to be more interested in scalable startups that promise a multimillion dollar exit (although I do believe that here is money in this business). It takes a lot of will power and patience to keep talking to people about how great JobDigga will be and that its business plan is solid and sound. That is why we are so thankful for our many supporters and evangelists.
Once they like their own profile they can publish it with the permission of their parents and make it visible for certain companies. The talent acquisition staff of HR people specialized on apprentice candidates can screen these job profile and contact the kids in question. This is called active sourcing and considered as future in talent acquisition. Because we at JobDigga feel that this process will be more satisfying and saving resources on the company’s side, our business model is that kids play for free and companies pay for our matching service and the displayed profiles.
And what are the greatest victories and challenges you have faced until now along the way?
To me a victory is a kid that writes us, because it likes JobDigga and our website. To us it’s a victory when a coder is interested in working with us, a publishing house considers a cooperation or a HR professional asking us, when we go live.
A victory is when people, whose opinion we respect, give us valuable advice – even when it sometimes hurts. It’s a constant challenge that keeps us grounded. Challenging to me is also the fact that I keep cross financing JobDigga with my Communications Agency because it is so difficult to find financial support at this early stage. To be a wife, mother, agency owner and founder is sometimes a bit tough to handle.
What are your recommendations to other women who have startup ideas?
Go for it once you have a sound business model and financial means for at least 6 months to a year to support yourself. Talk to lots of people about your project and listen to them openmindedly. Don’t follow every piece of advice. There is a lot of competition out there, and not every peace of advice is well meant. Change our plan if needed. Iteration is part of the deal.
Why do you think there are so less female founders?
Women might not take risks as easily as men. Female founders sometimes have a hard time dealing with rejection. My impression is that women are more into a friendly environment and calculative risks. And many females are not so good in stressing strengths. We love to confess weaknesses. This is not always helpful in business. Saying this I don’t really worry much about being a female founder. In my opinion stressing gender thoughts makes things more difficult.
Is there a difference between female and male founders? Do female founders require special set of skills to get prepared for the startup world?
Be tough, do your own thing, be open for chances – be joyful and inspiring. This combination to me could be very female. This German seriousness is sometimes bothering me. I like to work hard and laugh much.
Advice for aspiring founders attending SWWHH?
Potential founders should prepare a casual but inspiring speech. If you have no idea, what to do, then be open for just anything. Go with the flow. I have attended at a startup weekend and found it really amazing.
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 Facebook Page.