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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

Diana Knodel loves to share her passion for coding with others, that is why she founded App Campsan organization that brings coding workshops into classrooms. App Camps offers learning resources that schools can use to teach basiscs of programming. The goal is to give all students the chance to experience how much fun and how creative programming can be!

Diana Knodel | Foto by Michael Huebner www.bz-berlin.de
Diana Knodel | Foto by Michael Huebner www.bz-berlin.de

Diana Knodel has a background in computer science, psychology and educational research and holds a PhD in Computer Science/Human Computer Interaction. While being a working mom in the IT industry, she loves to share her enthusiasm about tech and coding and is very committed trying to get more people – especially girls and women – into tech. Diana is an ambassador for the Hamburg Geekettes, a community of women dedicated to helping aspiring and established female tech innovators and startet the OpenTechSchool Hamburg. Besides that she is actively involved in the startup scene in Hamburg. No wonder EDITION F and D64 named her in 2014 as one of the 25 leading women for the digital future. Diana Knodel is definitely a woman to watch out for and a great role model for many of us. Today, Diana shares some insights on how she founded App Camps.

Diana, what motivated you to found “App Camps“?

It started with a camp for female high school students in 2013. We wanted to show them how much fun coding and building apps can be. The camp was fantastic. Everyone had fun and the girls developed really cool apps. The television even reported about us. After the camp we got many request from schools and other organizations for more coding camps. This is how App Camps was born.

When did you decide to turn AppCamps into a real business / Startup? 

It pretty much just happened. It was never planned to build a business out of it. It was a fun event, a side project and now it is my job. Pretty crazy, isn’t it?

It sounds like a real passion project! What have been the greatest highlights so far?

One great highlight was definitely winning the Act for Impact, a competition with more than 100 startups and projects. We did not only win 40k but also great coaching and support from the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie and the Vodafone Stiftung. My personal magic moment of 2014 was a 14 year old participant of a course volunteering to be a coach for others. At our Hour of Code at betahaus Hamburg she taught a 10year old girl about coding and app development. When I saw this I knew exactly why I love what I am doing so much!

Bildschirmfoto 2015-03-04 um 23.41.12


What about challenges you’ve faced along the way?

The greatest challenge so far was probably the time we did not have. We started App Camps on the side and soon figured out that it is far too much work. The decision to resign from a company I really liked working for was not easy.

So, how do you deal with uncertainty, doubts  and fears?

I always try to think positive. Uncertainty is part of the game and fears are human. If something not so good happens, we need to find a solution for that – in order to turn it into something good again. There is a saying “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” I like that!

You are very committed and always trying to get especially more girls and women into the tech and startup world. Why do you think there are so few female founders?

There is probably not a simple answer to this question. One reason could be that there are few female role models. And maybe women are a little bit more afraid of failure? However it feels like it is slowly changing. I know quite a few female founders and great women who are pursuing their dreams.

What are your recommendations to other women that have startup ideas?

Go for it! Pitch your idea to others, find others who share your passion and get started. In the beginning it feels huge, but once you get started, you see that many things are possible. And it’s a wonderful thing to work for an idea and a topic you love!

App Summer Camp 2014
App Summer Camp 2014

What is more important to you “professional skills” or “entrepreneurial spirit”?
Probably a good mixture of both. You definitely need some skills and experience usually helps you as well. But at the same time you need to be bold at times, try things out and do crazy stuff. Entrepreneurial spirit is probably a little bit more important. Everything else can be learned.

Do you have any advice for aspiring founders attending Startup Weekend Women Hamburg?

Pitch your idea! Please do it! Also if people don’t vote for it – it’s always good to stand in front of people and talk about your ideas. I actually pitched the idea for something like App Camps at Startup Weekend in 2012. Everyone liked the idea but no one wanted to participate. “Not a money making business” everyone said. But one mentor came to me, gave me his card and offered sponsoring if we plan to do something to teach kids how to code. A few months later I called him, he sponsored the first App Camps (see question number 1) and here we are today!

Thank you Diana for the interview and all the best for App Camps!
If you want to know more about App Camps, also check out the Facebook Page. And if you like to know more about Diana, you can find her on Twitter, Xing, check out her Hamburg Startups Monitor Profile or join us at Startup Weekend Women Hamburg – we are honored to have Diana Knodel as a mentor at the event!

Diana und Philipp Knodel (Founders App Camps)
Diana und Philipp Knodel (Founders App Camps)

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.

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Theresa Grotendorst