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.
After attending a Startup Weekend in 2014 Miriam Bundel founded her own Startup: Shelfsailor. Shelfsailor helps you to find storage in your neighbourhood with flexible terms and a nice community. I met Miriam to ask her how she got started building her own business and to discuss her personal journey so far.
Miriam, what motivated you to found “Shelfsailor“?
I started Shelfsailor at the Startup Weekend Hamburg 2014 with my cofounder Stephan. Later in process Florian came to us to support us as our developer. Stephan was living in New York and had to move back for a few month to Germany. He had some boxes with personal stuff he didn’t want to throw away but neither wanted to send them to Germany. So his landlord offerd him to let his belongings at his apartment while he was away. I had the same case with a friend of mine. She moved to Australia and let her room in Hamburg. She just had to store her belongings somewhere. I had space on my attic and offered her to put her boxes there. We recognized that there is a need and the market of self storaging with neighbors didn’t exist yet. We saw that as a chance.
After the Startup Weekend, how difficult was it to bring your idea to life and to make a proper business out of it?
To bring Shelfsailor into the world wide web was quiet easy. But it’s difficult to create a completely new market. Especially in Germany a lot of people don’t have the mindset yet for a sharing economy. They are frightened of risk and need insurance to feel save. Startups like AirBnb, Uber, Blalacar show that the concepts works – but in Germany it is still hard.
So, what has been the highlight of your startup journey with Shelfsailor so far?
We won an award at the Startup Weekend Hamburg 2014. That was a reason for us to go on. In November we had our first exhibition at the WebSummit in Dublin. We are still in the beginning of a long journey – so there are a lot more highlights and challenges to face.
Speaking of challenges to face – how do you deal with doubts & fears?
Of course I have time of doubts, fears and uncertainty. But my family and friends keep pushing me and I really feel strong after managing a new challenge. I am optimistic and open-minded for taking chances.
Do you have any recommendations to other women who have startup ideas?
It’s important to have self-esteem and the courage to believe in your ideas. Believe in your strength and you will grow with every challenge. Don’t be frightened to ask people for their help or opinion. But follow your ideas and dreams.
Why do you think there are only so few female founders?
I guess most women don’t have the confidence to present their ideas, don’t like the role of being a leader or are frightened of thinking big.
Is there a difference between female and male founders?
Of course there can be a difference between female and male founders – but it depends on the character of a person. Is he or she extrovert or shy – a leader or a follower – a creative or logical type? I think most woman have a high emotional intelligence, empathy and are good managers.
What does it take to be an entrepreneur?
The entrepreneurial spirit is very helpful to be an entrepreneur. You need to be creative, have a high level of passion, self-motivation and risk-taking. The most important thing is being optimistic and passionate about what you believe in.
Any advice for aspiring founders attending SWWHH?
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.