Startup Weekend Winners: A Q&A with Orate Co-Founder Sara Capra

Sara Capra is the co-founder of Orate – a DC-based startup that makes it simple for event organizers to find speakers within their budgets.

Orate’s story began last year at Startup Weekend DC – an event where participants launch startups in less than 54 hours. Orate took first place in that weekend’s competition – even though Capra had taken a chance to be there in the first place.

Capra entered Startup Weekend with some concerns that her idea wouldn’t resonate with event participants. She was quickly proved wrong — she and Orate co-founder Veronica Eklund ended up building the largest team, which developed a mock-up of the future platform.

Sara shared Orate’s journey with Startup Weekend DC’s Elvina Kamalova. Answers have been edited for length and clarity:

Tell us about Orate.

Orate is an online platform that simplifies the process of finding, vetting, and booking public speakers simple. Our mission is twofold: 1) Make it easy to find quality speakers on any budget; and 2) Assist speakers in more effectively marketing themselves and getting them in front of the right audiences.

What was the role of Startup Weekend in starting and developing your project?

The Orate journey began at Startup Weekend DC in 2014. It was the launch pad for what Orate has become, and sparked the initial evolution of the concept. We began with an idea to alleviate the stress of filling last minute speaking cancellations. That resonated with many people, but through the feedback process over the weekend, we decided the business model around that was not one that would be sustainable.

Through our mentors, sending out surveys, and in-depth conversations with the team, we decided the business model needed to be based on more than that. Startup Weekend helped to give us the ecosystem and structure we needed to take our first big step in understanding how to test and validate our ideas.

How did you build your team?

Building the team during startup weekend was mostly organic. Initially, I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough interest. One of the great things about Startup Weekend is that you only need two people to work on an idea. My co-founder attended and joined my team, so we would be able to explore the idea no matter what. It turns out there was quite a bit of interest, and we ended up with the largest team in the competition. I thought our most important team member would be a developer, ideally one who knew front and back end since this was meant to be a web and mobile app.

One of the most important lessons I learned that weekend was how much you can do with a little bit of resourcefulness and creativity, when there’s a lack of technical expertise. We had a wonderful graphic designer.

As opposed to trying to build out any applications over the weekend, she instead mocked up what we wanted the website to look like. That way, we could walk the audience through the customer journey, without getting too bogged down with feature aspirations and technical details. After all, it was just the beginning! We knew if so much could change in one weekend, there were many more changes to come.

What are the biggest challenges in your startup journey?

The biggest challenges have shifted over time. Initially it was staying focused. There were so many things to be excited about – potential partnerships, big ideas, ideas within those ideas, the way you envision the company 1, 2, 3 years down the road.

The challenge is taking that long-term vision and working backward to map out your trajectory starting with today, and breaking down steps for initial short-term growth. We’re over a year in and have now seen a lot of our early ideas come to fruition. We are still constantly brainstorming, but we’re much more skilled at capturing ideas for a future state, and continuing to stay focused on the short-term execution to make them happen.

The other challenge we face is getting into the heads of our customers. Collectively, we’ve conducted hundreds of formal and informal interviews, feedback surveys, and tests. While there are times that what users say and what they do are parallel, we have found that monitoring their actions is most effective.

Did you have technical skills coming to SW?

Aside from some basic HTML (we all had MySpace, right?), I didn’t have any experience with coding going into Startup Weekend DC. However, attending the event and launching the company inspired me to spend more time learning about software development, and gave me the ability to discuss the basics of other languages when I need to.

Tell us how you realized your goal for building your venture.

I’m still getting there! We are in the middle of fundraising to get to our next phase. We have achieved a lot so far. We’ve scaled our speaker database extensively, had only positive feedback from clients, and launched a new website and subscription service. While I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, we don’t rest on our laurels. We have big plans moving forward and the wonderful team me and my co-founder have built is at the core of making those happen.

How did you raise your first funding?

We socialized Orate early and often. We pitched a lot, organized the data and financial information we had to help us have informed conversations, and put all of our cards and chips on the table. Our initial round was mostly from angel investors, and some funding came from the accelerator program Orate participated in called The Startup Factory.

What would be your advice to starting entrepreneurs?

Sharpen your communication skills. Entrepreneurs must always be networking and selling, even if their title or job responsibilities don’t formally include it. Entrepreneurs have to effectively communicate with and motivate their team to execute on the vision. They need to be good role models, and inspire the team to be brand advocates. Establishing and growing relationships are crucial to starting a company. Being a genuine, impactful, and effective communicator, is instrumental in that process.

It’s also important to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Take the “no’s,” the risk, the ambiguity, self-doubt, and constant change, and learn from it all. After you learn from it, embrace it. Two of the best things about life are that almost nothing is final and the possibilities are endless. Reflect on the lessons you learned, what led you there, and use them to make better, more informed decisions moving forward. This is one of the reasons it’s crucial to have good advisors and mentors. You need a brain trust that can help you step back, put things in perspective, and work through challenges.

To start your own startup story, join us for Startup Weekend on September 25-27. Register here and buy your tickets today!








Women Entrepreneurs in Focus – Interview Series

WE (Women Entrepreneurs) in Focus is a blog series initiated by Startup Weekend Women Hamburg, to showcase the stories of female entrepreneurs and to inspire and empower other women to turn their ideas into successful businesses. By interviewing female founders we tried to find out about the entrepreneurial spirit that drives these women, learn how they got started and what they wish they’d known before entering the start-up world. 

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We have interviewd a wide range of women, but despite all of their differences, these women have somethings in common – they are all great role models who are passionate, determined and committed to turning their ideas into reality, building successful businesses!

Here you find an overview of all interviews sorted by industry:

Commerce

freyaFreya Oehle Founder of Spottster

Freya Oehle is founder of Spottster, an online shopping platform that makes it possible to track your favourite products in numerous online shops. The 24-year-old entrepreneur from Hamburg founded the startup in 2013, right after finishing her MBA.

miriamMiriam Bundel Founder of Shelfsailor

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.

Services

Mirja-Hoechst-Fotografie-24Sandra Roggow Founder of Kitchennerds

Sandra Roggow is founder of Kitchennerds, a platform that puts together professional chefs with food lovers allowing anyone to enjoy of an elaborated menu, freshly cooked by your private chef at the commodity of your own place.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-04-08 um 19.41.16Katharina Wolff Founder of Premium Consultants

Katharina Wolff is Founder of Premium Consultants, a recruiting agency for digital talents in the digital / Tech / Startup field.

 

 

sinaSina Gritzuhn & Sanja Stankovic Founder of Hamburg Startups

Sina Gritzuhn, Sanja Stankovic and Tim Jaudszims founded “Hamburg Startups” to enhance the visibility of Hamburg’s startup scene and they are also creating a platform transparently displaying all Startups founded and based in Hamburg.

anne arndtAnne Arndt Founder of Elbworkers and PASARY

Anne Arndt founded PASARY an agency building marketplaces as well as the digital agency Elbworkers.

Food

leev1Natalie Richter and Christina Nissen Founder of leev

Natalie Richter and Christina Nissen founded ‘leev‘, a apple juice that comes straight from the area around Hamburg and is pressed unmixed so you can enjoy the pure tase of different sorts of apple.

stephanie döringStephanie Döring Founder of tvino.de

Stephanie Döring started over five years ago and founded tvino.de a online shop for wines as well as online platform for background stories and latest new with regards to quality wines.

 

janinaJanina Lin Tomaszewska Founder of Frau Ultrafrisch

Janina Lin Tomaszewska founded “Frau Ultrafrisch“, a restaurant and catering service that creates fresh selfmade food where all ingredients come directly from local farmers outside of Hamburg.

 

Bildschirmfoto 2015-04-08 um 19.41.06Kathy Gabel Founder of Besserbrauer

Kathy and Jörg decided to turn their idea into reality with Besserbrauer. Their main product, called Die Braubox,  includes the tools, the ingredients and of course the instructions to take you into the world of brewing your beer in your own kitchen.

 

Tech / Apps

anna_abraham_wall1Anna Abraham Founder of Pay with a Tweet

Anna Abraham founded Pay with a Tweet, a social payment system, in February 2014. With ‘Pay with a Tweet’ you give people access to your Content or Product once they tweet or post about it.

 

jobdiggaChristiane Brandes-Visbeck, founder of JobDigga

Christiane, founded JobDigga, an App kids could use to find out their strength and interests for the job market by playfully answering questions to various job missions.

 

 

 

Media and Gaming

Bildschirmfoto 2015-04-08 um 19.40.45Melanie Taylor, Co-founder of Osmotic Studios

In conversation with Melanie Taylor, co-founder of the gaming startup called Osmotic Studios. This startup makes games that have a special kind of atmosphere, evoking emotions through moral decisions or asking questions about society, life and everything.

susanneSusanne Harnisch Founder of pikofilm

Susanne Harnisch founded pikofilm, a film production company that specializes in telling digital stories, the core element is the documentary film. She also founded roleUP! – lvlUP your role models which portrays female role models with unusual jobs/hobbies.

 

Fashion

Bildschirmfoto 2015-04-08 um 19.41.31Andrea Noelle & Annika Busse Founder of Beliya

Founders Annika Busse and Andrea Noelle founded a eco-designer bag and accessories label with a charitable purpose: Beliya. Every purchase enables a child in Africa to attend school for one year and all items are made of distinguished upcycling materials.

7_Chic_Avenue_Portraits_0105_sw-800x533Marianne Tochtermann & Jutta Schweiger Founders of 7 Chic Avenue

Marianne Tochtermann & Jutta Schweiger turned their passion for fashion into profits. They started 7 Chic Avenue in the summer of 2013 in Hamburg, where they design “tops for everyday luxury”. They claim their brand 7 Chic Avenue stands for chic, exclusive and affordable silk blouses.

 

Other

diana1Diana Knodel Founder of AppCamps

Diana Knodel loves to share her passion for coding with others, that is why she founded App Camps – an organization that brings coding workshops into classrooms. App Camps offers learning resources that schools can use to teach basiscs of programming.

 

MomPreneurs_EEisenhardt2-800x639Esther Eisenhardt Founder of MomPreneurs

Esther Eisenhardt, is mother of two beautiful girls and founder of MomPreneurs  a revolutionary movement that started in Berlin in 2013 to support and encourage women entrepreneurs with kids.

 

jessica3Jessica Brockmann Founder of mylocalscouts

Jessica Brockmann is founder of mylocalscouts, a platform which connects tourism with greater good. It helps you to connect with local people called ‘local scouts’ that share your interests and help you to explore the city you’re currently visting.

poratrait3Janna Horstmann Founder of Radkappe

Janna Horstmann was tired of choosing between either safety or style when cycling through the urban jungle and founded ‘Radkappe‘ helmets, that stand out by the lively coloring and design.

 

If you’re a female entrepreneur and would like to have you story heard, then we’d love to publish your story! Get in contact with us via hamburgwomen@startupweekend.com.

 

 








WE in Focus: Anne Arndt, Founder of Elbworkers and PASARY

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.

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I finally managed to meet Anne Arndt for lunch in Ottensen and the result was a very inspiring interview on my notepad and a piece of tasty quiche in my stomach. By the way, I don’t recommend making an interview while eating because taking notes turns into a kind of a nightmare!
As Anne came in I asked her to tell me something about herself to get to know each other. At first this woman hypnotises you with her shinny eyes burning energy and passion. But the magic happens when she speaks: She was definitely given the gift to make things happen.

 

 ©Anna-Lena Ehlers
©Anna-Lena Ehlers

Hi Anne, tell me, which is your most recent project you are working on?
I recently founded PASARY together with Helge Wenck and Kevin Urbaum. PASARY is a result of reinventing the wheel over and over again at our existing digital agencies and Elbworkers. Over the past years we where setting up marketplaces or two sided business models many times.  It was bothering us that founders have to pay so much money initially to get their marketplaces off the ground. So we started to develop a more standardised feature set which enables us to set up custom marketplaces much faster and of course much cheaper. 

And of course PASARY is not your first project as entrepreneur…

I founded my first company just after I finished university. Even back at my school times I already got interesting projects started. One was an online social network for projects which I was not able to finish due to the crash of the new economy. 

An what got you inspired into the tech world at such an early stage?

The INTERNET! As there where no real webpages that time I was super exited by the ability to communicate with people real time from around the world. 

Coming back to PASARY and Elbworkers. I see you are always surrounded by men. How is that?
Well, I am so used to it. I work a lot with developers and that is still a world dominated by men. 

Do you think there is a particular reason for it?

I think men are more into maths and women are more in visuals and communication. It is easier to find women in communication, in PR and marketing. However I believe this will be changing sometime soon as programming is moving away from the pure nerd domain. 
 
Can you also develop?

I learnt JAVA in university. It did not keep my attention as I like the conceptional and business part more. That is my strength and what I like doing. 

I am sure you have frequently business ideas, that is somehow in your genetics…

Oh yes, I do. I have many ideas and when I find a good one I try to develop it and start writing a quick concept and calculating a small business case to check out if it could work or not. With the time I got the experience in detecting pretty quick if an idea could actually work out or not. 

That is really interesting and could definitely inspire many of the women taking part at this Start Up Weekend. Tell us then please, which is the special ingredient that makes a start up successful?

As easy as spotting an idea that could work you have to put it into action. Thinking to much about something makes things not work and loose you time. Don’t waste your time on paper. Better start a trial of your critical business assumptions – like how much would people pay for it – in the real world by getting to know your target group as fast as you can. 

What are from your experience typical start up failures?

As I just said, don’t invest a lot of time on thinking every possibility or writing lengthy business plans nobody will read at that stage. It will reduce your time to start critical tasks like testing your idea. The faster you take your idea into the real world, the faster you see if it works or not. Also I think many people worry sharing and talking about their idea. Those founders are loosing valuable feedback on risks or advantages of their idea. And yeah: Don’t give up too early! You need to fight for it! 

Would you found a start up alone or do you think we all need a team to be able to push the idea forward?

I believe having a team makes things much easier even though you should not hesitate to push things forward alone in the beginning. For me a team ideally consists out of at least two people from whom one is a sprinter and the other person has great endurance. 

Which one are you?

The sprinter! (Laugh). 

Where is the best place to find a good team to ground a business apart from the Start Up Weekend?

I always found partners in my current environment. Colleagues, friends or even my partner. 

Friends and couple? Is that not so dangerous?

It doesn’t need to. I believe founding something with a friend or as a couple could help make the relationship even stronger. Additionally: Such relationships have mostly already proven to to be capable to go through happy as well as tough times without breaking. Such skills are priceless and very valuable when starting a company.

Two motivating words to the participants of the Start Up Weekend Women to end the interview? 

Have an idea that is easy to get started. No complex software projects or everything which takes more than two month to develop. Do something you like is helpful but don’t forget you need to make money with it. The most important? To have the PASSION. 

Thank you Anne.

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.








WE in Focus : Esther Eisenhardt, Founder of MomPreneurs

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 start­up world.

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Running a business is no cakewalk. Nor is running a family. But managing both family and business with equal excellence, well, that is definitely a Herculean task. This edition of WE in Focus celebrates the sensational multi-taskers great at relationship building and adapting a.k.a mom entrepreneurs, who have a keen ability to balance being both the CEO of their respective households and their businesses with sheer determination, intelligence and creativity. 

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Photo credits : Katja Harbi

To paint a clear picture and provide context, I am in conversation with Esther Eisenhardt, a mother of two beautiful girls and founder of MomPreneurs  a revolutionary movement that started in Berlin in 2013 to support and encourage women entrepreneurs with kids. Since its launch, MomPreneurs has made its strong presence in the D-A-CH region of Europe: 10 cities in Germany, Vienna, and Zurich.  In 2014, Edition F named her as one of the 25 leading women for the digital future. And today she will share with us her startup journey, important insights from her initiative, and that women can have it all.

Esther, what was your motivation behind founding MomPreneurs? 

I was in Berlin’s startup scene for 11 years. Then I just decided to do something on my own and realized that the startup scene has 95% men who want to launch the next big thing. And that somehow defined who a successful entrepreneur was – someone with venture capital, a huge team and probably working 60­-70 hrs a week. But that’s not what I wanted. Even if I would have gone down this path, it would have been impossible for me as a mother with two kids. This made me feel unwelcome and realize that I am missing some like-­minded people, women like me, who were asking how to balance their business and have a family at the same time. This made me start a meetup group for MomPreneurs in Berlin a year ago as a side project, and find my own network and somehow redefine success.

And how difficult was it to realize this idea?

The idea was a bit more selfish initially, because I just wanted to have a network for myself and want to connect with like minded women who faced the same challenges, had same questions and somehow the same setup and goals. These meetups helped me connect with them, support each other and give them a forum to somehow gain confidence and be empowered to start their own businesses. For me it was really cool to see more and more mothers  attending these meetups. So with time I decided to make it more professional, and quit my previous startup idea to give my 100% to realize MomPreneurs.

MomPreneurs_EEisenhardt2
Photo credits: Jagna Zuzanna Birkhof

For a side passion to become a full-time profession, how challenging was this transition?

In my previous startup idea, I had co-founders which in a way slowed the work flow. Having the right cofounder is just like marriage, and this was a big challenge for me. But with MomPreneurs I have created this business model where I am supported by two freelancers as well as my local MomPreneurs Meetup hosts. They believed in my vision and what I do, so they joined MomPreneurs to support the initiative. Another challenge for me is that being so passionate about my work that there have been times when I had to force myself to call it a day and focus on other things.

But all these tough times must have culminated into some more rewarding, right?

Very true, my reward comes from knowing that a lot of women have benefited from the MomPreneur’s growing network. We have over over 3000 members in the Facebook page , and over 1000 mothers in the Facebook group which is very active with women interacting with each other, exchanging ideas and helping each other.  Its rewarding to hear when  these mothers thank me for giving them such a platform. Being one of 25 Women for the Digital Future, and also nominated for Emotion Award ­is very fulfilling – feels good when people realize what I am doing.

To seek such similar fulfilment in their lives, what would you recommend to the moms out there who want to follow their passion and have a good family life as well? 

You love your kids and you have a side passion – it’s possible for women to have both. It’s a lot of hard work – you need to invest your time, energy and little bit of money. You start with low risk and test your idea. If the market test fails, don’t continue it. This model works well if you are a part-time entrepreneur where you have a day job but want to fulfil your passion too. You can work at the weekends or evenings to see if there is a potential. And if the idea succeeds, you can work less in your day job and put more hours into your idea. I want to make these kind of models more popular among MomPreneurs, so that it is possible to start a side project and test the idea.  You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to start your business, just leave the comfort zone.

MomPreneurs_EEisenhardt_Okt2014b
Photo credits : Katja Harbi

Speaking of MomPreneurs, why do you think they are so less compared to DadPreneurs? 

For women the biggest challenge is they want to be  good mothers and at the same  time also want to do something they love in life, work-wise. They are afraid that sometimes this investment is just too high and their kids might suffer.
 In my generation or my mother ‘s or grandma’s, it was always different. If you want kids, it is important to support your husband, his career and just be with the kids at home. If you have a little hobby that’s okay, or if you work 20 hours a week and don’t have much work responsibility. But women nowadays, especially from your generation, wants both family and career. Now it is okay for a man and a woman to have a family, and share equal responsibilities. And I believe in that kind of family values. I am looking forward to the day when dads will have equal responsibility at home, in business or at the workplace. Perhaps we will have a DadPrenuer movement sometime soon, just not in my Facebook group. 😉

Sheryl Sandberg recently started the new #LeanInTogether initiative that calls out to men to promote equality at work and at home. What are your thoughts on men being educated in this topic?

Men needs to learn how to support their entrepreneurial partners. I tell my MomPreneurs that they need to really ask for help, and not take it for granted. Especially when the father takes the financial responsibility when the mother starts her business, initially, there won’t be much money coming in and people might undervalue her. But that shouldn’t stop her. Personally for me, I want to be financially independent but my goal is not to be super rich. I want to have a fulfilled life, like the German saying­ – “Meine leben genießen”. I want to do things with my family, to travel and not to just work the whole time. Financial responsibility should be shared between the couple, and men needs to understand this.

Well, you’d be happy to know that we have some aspiring mom entrepreneurs taking part in Startup Weekend Women Hamburg. Any advice for them?

If you have an idea, find a very easy way to test it. Know your ideal customer, and don’t market it to everyone. Find what they really need and what they willing to pay for. And then find how you can test the idea maybe by building a simple prototype during the Startup Weekend. Then share this prototype with your target customers either via online survey, a blog, or in your facebook page for feedbacks. Next, it is important to be a passionate learner. So make sure that you love to learn new things and try things out. Be brave enough to take the first step. Leave your comfort zone and make things happen!

Thank you Esther for such inspiring words, and taking care of the entrepreneurial mamas. 

For those interested to know more about Esther and her work, you can check-out MomPreneurs’ homepage and Facebook fanpage. We at Startup Weekend Women Hamburg truly support mompreneurs and provide free childcare facility throughout the weekend for our participants with kids.

So mamas, you want to build your own startup? Give it a try, 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. DadPreneurs are welcome too! Stay tuned for more updates and interviews via our Facebook Page.








WE in Focus: Jessica Brockmann Founder of 'mylocalscouts'

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

Jessica Brockmann is founder of mylocalscouts, a platform which connects tourism with greater good. It helps you to connect with local people called ‘local scouts’ that share your interests and help you to explore the city you’re currently visting. So, you can share your passion with likeminded people wherever you are – all over the world! Today, Jessica shares some insights on how she founded her startup mylocalscouts from scratch and tells us about her perspective on entrepreneurship.

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Jessica, what motivated you to found ‘mylocalscouts’?

Personal need and the ability to create something completely new, not only in regard to the business model and innovation but particularly in regard to build up a company from zero. Incredible experiences, a reliable network of impressive people and the high amount of learnings every day are worth its prize of the „Startup-life“ uncertainty. I quit my full-time job as a Keyaccount and Project manager at the end of 2013 and jumped into an incredible journey with mylocalscouts during the last two years – changes and pivots were accompanying us. mylocalscouts was originally created as a sharing economy platform for local travel experiences and is now the basis for #tourismforgood. A Platform which connects tourism with greater good.

How do you experience your entrepreneurial journey so far? Was it difficult to bring your idea to life?

It is still a difficult thing! If somebody tells you it is easy to build up a successful company then i would definitely visit his or her „Best practice“ course. I don’t believe that you can establish a great company, which also has a longterm, positive impact on society, within two or three years. So you better have great personal resilience. We are working on our platform since two years and we definitely need a lot more time to improve – Frontend, Backend, Hosting, Analytics and many more segments you need to care about. Development is an ongoing process and so are a lot of tasks while bringing an idea to life. The Team is also one of the most important parts of establishing a company, we are an exceptional Startup because we are kind of a family business. Frank Brockmann, one of my Co-founders is my father. Not everybody’s cup of tea but it’s working really good for us. You definitely have a strong basis of trust right from the beginning.

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Have there been challenges you faced along the way? And do you want to share some victories or highlights with us?

The greatest challenge is to keep going every day, whatever happens. You’ll face a lot of up and downs while building up a company. Somethimes you feel like everything is working, you get positive feedback and the situation seems like „now you get it“ but i promise, the next barrier will come. But the chance of success is still there and keeps you working hard. Our greatest victory, is to exist as a company and enjoy every day of work!

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

Difficult question. It really depends on the situation i’m facing but to give you a little overview, outdoorsport provide a clear head, a great sparringspartner gives you the opportunity to talk about different things and family and friends are really important for a positive distraction.

Looking back, what are your recommendations to other women who have startup ideas? 

Give it a try! There are so many interesting opportunities to challenge a startup idea without wasting a bunch of resources and time that excuses are running out. Use for example Lean Startup Methods and start to learn, besides your daily work. You don’t have to quit your Job right at the beginning.

Why do you think there are so few female founders? 

Difficult to say, maybe its about the willingness to take some risks and to overcome a lot of barriers one is facing during the initial company building. Perhaps also a question of time and prioritization within our life planning but to be honest, it is not only a question about female or male. We should ask the question „Why do we think there are so few founders (female and male) in Germany?“

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Is there a difference between female and male founders? 

Sure, the first thought that comes to my mind is the ability to exaggerate and sale :), but finally its the balanced way to greater success. That’s why i would always prefer a mixed Team of founders – male and female!

What is more important when builiding a startup, “professional skills” or “entrepreneurial spirit”?

You should have a little bit of everything. Do not try to be a specialist, be a generalist with a great overview if you what to be the head of the team. But sure, a team also needs specialists, for example programming, design or financials. Try to establish a good mix of skills within your team and make sure, that they are able to work under conditions with extreme uncertainty. Keep in mind, outsourcing is also possible.

Do you want to share some advice for aspiring founders attending Startup Weekend Women

Try to learn as much as possible, have fun and start to build up you network! It’s the unfair advantage you can create right from the beginning.

Thanks Jessica for the interview and all the best for mylocalscouts!

If you want to know more about Jessica and mylocalscouts check out their website, Facebook or the Hamburg Startup Monitor Profile.

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.








WE in Focus: Natalie Richter und Christina Nissen Gründerinnen von 'leev'

Für viele Frauen ist das Gründen eines eigenen Unternehmens spannender als eine gewöhnliche Karriere in der Wirtschaft. In dieser Blog-Serie portraitieren wir Gründerinnen aus Deutschland und sprechen mit Ihnen über Unternehmergeist und ihre Visionen, Ziele und  Erfahrungen in der Start-up Welt.

women entrepreneurs in focus

Die Deutschen sind bekanntlich Weltmeister im Apfelsafttrinken! Geerntet im Alten Land, mit Liebe sortenrein gepresst – das ist ‘leev‘, ein Gaumenschmaus aus sortenreinem Apfelsaft, den es nun im Einzelhandel und erlesenen Bars zu finden gibt. Hinter diesem Startup mit Hand und Fuß, Herz und Geschmack, stecken die beiden Powerfrauen Natalie Richter und Christina Nissen. Wer die beiden einmal getroffen hat, hegt keine Zweifel mehr daran, dass dieses Startup Früchte trägt. Im heutigen Interview plaudern die beiden aus dem Nähkästchen der Unternehmensgründung und geben erfrischende Einblicke in ihren Startup-Alltag.

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Natalie und Christina, Ihr habt ‘leev‘ gegründet. Klingt lecker, was ist das?

Klingt platt, ist Platt! leev bedeutet Liebe auf Plattdeutsch. Und ist zum Namen unseres Startups geworden. Wir sind drei Hamburger Saftfreunde und haben es uns auf die Fahne geschrieben, den althergebrachten Apfelsaft für die Menschen wieder spannend zu machen. Deshalb mosten wir ihn anders als üblich, nämlich sortenrein. So entsteht je nach Apfelsorte ein ganz eigener und eben sortentypischer Geschmack. Egal ob Boskoop, Elstar oder Holsteiner Cox – wir machen Apfelsaft, der wie der echte Apfel schmeckt! Zusätzlich gehen 2 Cent pro verkaufter Flasche an den Bienenschutz. Denn wir wollen mit leev nicht nur die Vielfalt der Natur genießen, sondern auch dazu beitragen, sie zu bewahren.

Wie seid ihr auf die Idee gekommen?

Eigentlich hat die Idee uns gefunden. Es ist wichtig beim Entwickeln einer Geschäftsidee mit offenen Augen durch die Welt zu gehen. Du musst sensibel sein für ungelöste Probleme der Menschheit oder für eben Dinge, die irgendwie anders sind – und in denen echtes Potential schlummert. So war es auch bei unserem Apfelsaft. Ich (Natalie) war vor gut 1,5 Jahren im Alten Land unterwegs und habe dort in einem kleinen Hofladen sortenrein gepressten Apfelsaft entdeckt. Ich war neugierig, habe ein paar Flaschen mitgenommen – und der Geschmack hat mich einfach total umgehauen. Das war der Punkt an dem für mich klar war: „In dieser Sache steckt echtes Potential! Hier gibt es die Chance, ein einfaches Produkt wie Apfelsaft aufzuwerten und wieder interessant für die Menschen zu machen.“
Denn, seien wir doch mal ehrlich, Apfelsaft begleitet uns doch schon unser ganzes Leben. Aber wenn wir etwas Spannendes trinken wollen, greifen wir doch inzwischen lieber zu Rhabarber- oder Maracujasäften. Das wollen wir mit leev wieder ändern!

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Wie seid ihr dann weiter vorgegangen und wie ist euer Team zustande gekommen?


Nachdem ich ein paar Marktchecks gemacht habe – also mit Gastronomen, Handel und Endverbraucher gesprochen habe – und die allgemeine Marktentwicklung von Direktsäften analysiert habe, hatte ich mein Bauchgefühl durch Fakten validiert. Im nächsten Schritt ging es darum, das Team auszubauen: Ich habe Joachim, einen erfahrenen Moster aus dem Alten Land davon überzeugt, dass leev die Chance seines Lebens ist, ein Startup für sortenreinen Saft ins Leben zu rufen. Er ist heute unser Saftmeister und Tüftler. Zu Joachim und mir habe ich dann noch Christina an Bord geholt. Gemeinsam mit ihr gebe ich der Marke nach außen ein Gesicht. Denn zusammen mit Christina, einer Freundin und selbständigen Verpackungs- und Grafikdesignerin, meistere ich nun Marketing und Vertrieb. Warum genau sie? Weil ich wusste: „Mit ihr kann ich Pferde stehlen und alle da draußen davon überzeugen, wie geil der geilste Apfelsaft der Welt schmeckt :o) !“

Erzählt doch mal, was waren eure tollsten Momente bisher?

Wir haben ein echtes Produkt, etwas das die Menschen in ihrem Alltag begleitet. Die tollsten Momente waren bisher für uns: Die erste etikettierte Flasche in der Hand zu halten. Die erste Palette in unserem leeren Lagerraum abzustellen. Den ersten Supermarkt-Aufsteller mit den eigenen Händen gebaut zu haben und ihn dann in einem EDEKA befüllt zu sehen. Und die Menschen in Cafés mit deinem eigenen Produkt in der Hand zu sehen. Das ist Wahnsinn! Wir müssen uns immer noch die Augen reiben! Es sind die vielen Kleinigkeiten an jedem Tag, die unsere Augen leuchten lassen. Unsere Säfte und die Schorle sind erst seit Mitte Dezember auf dem Markt. In so kurzer Zeit so viel Zuspruch von der Familie, Freunden, Händlern, Gastronomen und Endverbrauchern zu bekommen ist ein echt tolles Gefühl.

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Meistens kommt ja alles anders als man denkt. Was hat euch im Nachhinein überrascht?

Wir haben den Aufwand ein wenig unterschätzt, ein auf den ersten Blick so einfaches Produkt wie Apfelsaft auf den Markt zu bringen. Aber es ist ein reales Produkt, das viel Logistik und eine solide Finanzplanung erfordert. Denn die Lagerung unseres Saftes ist wahnsinnig kapitalintensiv. Willst du wachsen, musst du das mit Bedacht und Weitsicht tun. Genauso verhält es sich mit der Apfelsaftproduktion: Man kann nicht ganzjährig guten Apfelsaft herstellen! Das bedeutet, dass wir spätestens im Mai ein Lager aufbauen müssen, das uns bis in den Herbst zur nächsten Apfelernte trägt. Das ist wirklich eine echte Herausforderung. Aber wir sind ein super Team, wir werden auch das meistern!

Was glaubt ihr warum so wenige Frauen gründen?

Gründen ist mit der Bereitschaft verbunden, sich von Verpflichtungen und Konventionen zu lösen. 
Du musst vielleicht deinen sicheren und gut bezahlten Job an den Nagel hängen und kannst morgens noch nicht sagen, wann du abends zuhause bist. Du musst einfach Spaß daran haben, dich ins Ungewisse zu werfen und alles was du hast und kannst in diese Idee zu stecken. 
Vermutlich liegt es häufig daran, dass immer noch viele Frauen durch ihre Erziehung und eingebrannte gesellschaftliche Ansichten nicht das nötige Selbstbewusstsein entwickeln können, sich selbst zuzutrauen ihr eigenes Ding in dieser krassen, aufopfernden und riskanten Form durchzuziehen.
Hinzu kommt, dass Frauen eher selten Rampensäue sind. Als Gründerin musst du deine Idee gut verkaufen können – und vor allem an ihr und ihrer Umsetzung Spaß haben. Anstatt darauf zu hoffen entdeckt zu werden, musst du dich eben lautstark bemerkbar machen. Die reine Hoffnung darauf durch eine glückliche Fügung entdeckt zu werden, kann beim Gründen schnell nach hinten losgehen und du stehst mit leeren Händen da.

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Als GründerIn muss man sich auch mit Fachbereichen auseinandersetzen, von denen man evtl. keine Ahnung hat, wie z.B. Marketing, Vertrieb, Buchhaltung, Programmierung, etc. Wie löst ihr diese Probleme und wie geht ihr damit um?

Unser Motto ist tatsächlich: „wir machen alles selbst“ und lachen uns regelmäßig kaputt darüber. Aber das ist ja auch das Tolle am Gründen! Du entwickelst sehr viele neue Fähigkeiten und lernst dich selbst, deine Stärken und Schwächen, ganz neu kennen. Du musst eigentlich nur offen dafür sein, es auszuprobieren. Der Vertrieb war zum Beispiel eine solche Baustelle bei uns. Wie macht man richtigen Vertrieb? Kurzerhand haben wir ein Webinar bei einem Vertriebsguru belegt und somit schnell einfache Techniken gelernt, wie man in Telefon- und Kaltakquise geht. Der Rest ist dann learning by doing. Genauso schreinern wir unsere Displays für die Supermärkte selbst, wir sind also gewissermaßen auch unter die Tischler gegangen. Wir hieven palettenweise Getränke durch die Gegend und bringen uns selbst bei, wie man einfach eine Webseite programmiert. Es geht! Alles! Man muss es nur wollen und bereit sein, einen Großteil seiner Zeit und seine ganze Leidenschaft in dieses eine Projekt zu stecken.

Das Motto gefällt mir! Habt Ihr nicht manchmal auch Zweifel und Ängste? Wie geht ihr mir Unsicherheiten um?

Hey, besteht das Leben nicht immer aus gewissen Ängsten und Zweifeln? Vieles ist doch selbstgemacht und geistert nur im eigenen Kopf herum. Diese zu überwinden ist die Kunst und einfach das Vertrauen zu haben, dass alles gut wird. Wie Jon Kabat-Zinn es schon so schön gesagt hat: „You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf“. Und genauso ist es. Wir wachsen mit unseren Aufgaben. Und werden immer besser im „surfen“.  Auf jeden Fall ist es es wert in die Fluten zu springen, weil Freiheit und Spaß garantiert sind. Das möchten wir auch jedem auf den Weg mitgeben. Nehmt euer Leben in eure eigenen Hände und lebt eure Träume. Dieses Gefühl ist unbeschreiblich und so hoffen wir, dass einige unter Euch jetzt Lust bekommen haben in die Fluten zu springen, die Zweifel über Bord zu werfen und den eigenen Ideen und Wünschen Auftrieb zu verleihen.

Danke für das Interview Natalie und Christina und viel Erfolg für euer Startup!

Wer mehr über Natalie und Christina erfahren möchte, kann sich auf der Webseite und der Facebook Seite weiter informieren oder sich zum Startup Weekend Women Hamburg anmelden und dort ein ganzes Wochenede lang den besten Apfelsaft Hamburgs verkosten! Es lebe der gute Geschmack und erfrischende Ideen!

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Du möchtest selber ein Start-up/Unternehmen gründen? Das Startup Weekend Women Hamburg möchte insbesondere Frauen dazu ermutigen, sich als Unternehmerinnen zu verwirklichen und bietet die ideale Plattform, um deine Träume zu verwirklichen, MitgründerInnen zu finden und Dich von porfessionellen Leuten beraten und coachen zu lassen! Weitere Infos findest Du auch auf Facebook!








WE in Focus: Andrea Noelle & Annika Busse Founder of 'Beliya'

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

Founders Annika Busse and Andrea Noelle fulfilled their life-long dream of creating a eco-designer bag and accessories label with a charitable purpose: Beliya. Every purchase enables a child in Africa to attend school for one year. All items are made of distinguished upcycling materials: leather returns like new and surplus fabric from designer collections. And each bag comes with a customised tag with the name of the child you help sponsor, telling you exactly what part of that child’s school year you help paying for.

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In today’s interview, Andrea and Annika share their experience of starting and growing a business and explain how they came up with their fantastic concept of designer handbags, sustainability, charity, and upcycling, that brought them plenty of media attention from all sides.

Andrea and Annika, what motivated you to found “Beliya“?

First of all, we always dreamed of founding our own company and during our years of studies, especially when we were writing our doctoral thesis, we learned a lot about microloans. By investigating all those projects for our work, we realized how important education is. Education is the key to everything. And we kept this fact in our minds throughout all these years. And when we started to create our own handbags and decided to make a business out of it, we tried to implement this fact to enable others, who do not have the same possibilities that we have, to get education.

How difficult was it to start your business and to bring your idea to life?

Of course starting your own business is never easy and there are always setbacks that make things even more difficult as they already are. However, we would say that all these ups and downs mean enrichments for us. As an entrepreneur you are always in action and you can only handle all these challenges by being passionate about what you do! By doing something sustainable, the satisfaction for ourselves is even bigger.

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And how do you make sure the money reaches the right children?

All of our donation partners are nonprofit foundations or associations which were chosen by beliya on the basis of well defined criteria. One of these criteria is that our partners are mainly led and supported by volunteers so that 100% of the funds will reach the schools and children.

Looking back, can you tell us about your greatest highlights so far?

Last year we won the MarketingAward of Hamburg. Thereupon a lot of huge advertisements of our bags were spread all around the city. This was one of the most unbelievable moments of our lives.

What are the things that are totally different than you imagined?

That building a company and brand takes time and so much work. But when you love what you do and have a great team and customers, it is the best job in the world.

What are your plans for the future?

Until now we’ve already been able to help more than 500 children go to school. For the nonce, this is not bad, facing the fact that we are selling our bags mainly through our online shop www.beliya.de. But of course we want more, so that even more children can be supported by our bags and accessories.

beliya Gründerfoto mit Kindern

Have there been challenging times of doubts about your business?

Especially the initial stage of a startup is very exciting. There are a lot of things and situations that will confront you with uncertainty, doubts and other fears. However, the feeling you will have after dealing with this situation is great because then you know that you can do it.

What does it require to start a business from zero as a women entrepreneur?

We think that there are not so many female founders, because a lot of women are
overestimating the project of an own business. But since running our own company, we
realized that there are not as many barriers to break down as you might expect and that
starting a business can be relatively simple.

Do you have any advice for aspiring founders?

We would recomend to build up a good network. (Business) contacts and a supporting
community are important and helpful for the development of your company.
Make sure to get the opinion of people around you regularly. Feedback is an important way to gain information which will help you to develop yourself and your company further.

Thanks Andrea and Annika for the interview and keep on the great work!

If you want to know more about Beliya also see their Facebook Page or check out the Hamburg Startup Monitor Profile.

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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.








WE in Focus: Janna Horstmann Founder of 'Radkappe'

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

Most standard bicycle helmets are not only a fashion no-go, but also a guarantee to ruin any hairstyle, don’t they? This is not the case for ‘Radkappe‘ helmets – they stand out by the lively coloring and design and through an opening at the back of the head – a lifeline for each bun, braid or ponytail. Janna Horstmann was tired of choosing between either safety or style when cycling through the urban jungle and founded Radkappe in 2013! Today, she gives us some insights on her entrepreneurial journey.

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Janna, what motivated you to found “Radkappe”?

I use my bicycle every day and have worn a helmet since my childhood. I’ve often wondered why there were no dressy, hair-friendly bicycle helmets. From my own experience I knew that I wanted a cutout on the rear part of the helmet to allow me to put my hair in a ponytail when out cycling.

Looking back, how difficult was it to bring your idea of the helmets to life?

The first steps after founding radkappe GmbH were  the 3D-modeling of the prototype and the registration of the property rights (registered design and brand). Then I started my search for a proper producer and found one in China. The first prototypes were manufactured but we still had some details to refine. After these changes we produced the second prototype, which corresponds to the current model of radkappe. Ten of these prototypes have been successfully tested in the SGS labs and met the European security standards (EN1078). The next step was the release of the mass production. I received the first helmets of the series to make photos for marketing measures e.g. catalogue and promotional products. The website was established during the production and the shipping of the helmets. It has been online since April 2014. In spring 2014 I started the dealer canvassing.

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What have been you personal highlights of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

One of the best moments was the first time I held a product in my hands which only exists because of my idea, design and work. Another great moment was acquiring the first dealer who was enthusiastic about my helmets. I also faced some challenges, e.g. the negotiations in China, the scrap rate of the first charge despite a quality control before shipment and the extension of the dealership.

You mentioned that you also faced some challenges. How do you deal with doubts and fears?

I am fortunate enough to be able to have security during my venture through my other job as a freelance SAP consultant. I am, however, committed to the concept of a bicycle helmet which combines elegance and safety. I would rather have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.

Do you have some recommendations to other women who have Startup ideas?

Find strong partners, obtain a lot of feedback and know-how (if necessary buy external) and the most important recommendation: hold out! For me it was very helpful to write a business plan, meet other start-ups and share experiences. My motto was: “Why not?” – If you have a really good idea and there are no reasons to not realize it: Just do it!

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You’re one of the rare species called Women Entrepreneurs. Why do you think there are so few female founders?

As I mostly work with men – both in my job as SAP consultant and in most of the concerns of radkappe GmbH –  I can’t say a lot about other self-employed women and female founders. I assume that there are a lot of women with great ideas who don’t dare to found their own company due to the lack of a secure income and the potential incompatibility with children. At the same time, a lot of women are not as convinced of their ideas as their male counterparts. But at the end it is not a question of sex but of entrepreneurial spirit.

So, do female founders require a special set of skills to get prepared for the startup world?

Of course you’ll need some entrepreneurial spirit as well as some know how to found a start-up company. But at least the know-how is something you can build up or buy externally. There are more important aspects from my point of view: the belief in your own idea and some professional self-confidence.

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

The best pieces of advice I can offer aspiring founders are to write and calculate a business plan and to build a network between start-ups. In Hamburg there are many institutions offering help and organizing networking opportunities. It’s really worth joining them.

Thank you Janna for the Interview!

If you like to know more about Janna and Radkappe check out the Facebook Page and Hamburg Startup Monitor Profile!

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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.








WE in Focus: Diana Knodel Founder of 'AppCamps'

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!

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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.








WE in Focus: Kathy Gabel, Co-Founder of Besserbrauer

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.

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Beer has the reputation of bringing people together and we all relate mainly beer to good times and friends. What many people probably didn’t know or still don’t know is that they have the power at their fingertips to be able to brew their own one at home!

Kathy and Jörg decided to turn their idea into reality with Besserbrauer and try to reach all this people to show them the art of independent beer brewing. Their main product, called Die Braubox,  includes the tools, the ingredients and of course the instructions to take you into the world of brewing your beer in your own kitchen.  Also great is their online shop to acquire extra tools and additional ingredients to brew specific beers like Pale Ale, Hell, Dunkel or the exotic Coffee Stout. The magical part of the Braubox is that everyone can try it. Either if you make a hobby out of it or if you become a beer brewing profi is only up to you!

Foto-Credits: Lars Franzen, larsfranzen.com
Foto-Credits: Lars Franzen, larsfranzen.com

What I would like to empathize is that one of the founders of Besserbrauer is a young woman, Kathy Gabel, who is today ready to reply some questions about her way into entrepreneurship.

Are women also pretty much interested in Beer, Kathy, or you are one of a kind?

One of a kind sounds lonesome, so I am glad to say no! New craft beer styles attract more and more women to try the hoppy, fruity ales or nuttily brown ales for example. And I even know female brewmasters and beer sommeliers. But still more than 90% of the Braubox users are male.

And now getting into the point Kathy, what motivated you to have your own startup?

We simply had a very good idea. Plus I was ready to experience something new in career terms after several years of being employee. Instead of doing a very specialized job, I am now Marketing Manager, purchaser, packaging staff, accountant, Sales Manager and even sometimes binman. Binwomen. Seeing all parts of a business  working together makes running a startup so precious to me.

 Do you think this feeling of willing to do our own project comes to everyone at some point?

 It depends on the person but I am sure, the longer you do your “base” job, the more you think about other possibilities. And living in a city might intensify the idea of running your own business, as you see different other people doing it with very different ideas. And having a city’s wide range of possible target groups.

 How difficult was it to bring your idea to life?

 There were and still are two sides of starting your own business: the startup scene itself, which is interested in ideas, extremely helpful and uncomplicated, when it comes to looking for office space, business tips and invaluable contacts. The other side is the official formation. My advice: don’t get confused by laws and taxes and forms. Just find a good tax consultant and get started.

 What are the greatest victories and challenges you faced along the way?

 One of the biggest challenges I have to face is not male or female – it’s having enough time for the startup while still working your employee job. The female challenge for me was to find my role in a still mostly male dominated startup scene. Plus our startup is a team with a female and a male founder. I try to use my personal strengths and otherwise ask for help when necessary. This is what makes a team and is most efficient, regardless of men or women.  The biggest victory is that our idea of kitchen breweries is appreciated so much! People write us mails, send us photos and write about us in blogs, because they like what we do!

Foto-Credits: Lars Franzen, larsfranzen.com
Foto-Credits: Lars Franzen, larsfranzen.com

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

 What are your strengths? Are you ready to spend your free time on concepts, communication and sometimes simply administration, delivery and calculation? Are there enough ideas for year 3-5? If your answers are mostly positive, then find someone to join you or if you want to start on your own, at least people who support you. And never fear the failure!

 Why do you think there are so less female founders?

A lot of startups provide apps or other technical solutions. These are still no female domains, but much better suitable than e.g. service, trade or craft to achieve quick success. And maybe women do not face risks as easily as men do. This is not a bad thing, but might keep women from starting their own business.

 Is there a difference between female and male founders? Do female founders require special set of skills to get prepared for the startup world?

 I don’t like to think too much about being male or female. But maybe we should be a bit more self-confident about our ideas and qualifications and communicate them better.

 Do you have another precious piece of advice for aspiring founders attending SWWHH?

If you are convinced of your idea, then just get started! Think enough but not too much!

 Many thanks Kathy for your time! I have heard you are also here and there around to make your product well known. Where is the next date to meet you personally?

Foto-Credits: Lars Franzen, larsfranzen.com
Foto-Credits: Lars Franzen, larsfranzen.com

 We are currently planning the market and fair events we attend. The next one might be the treib.gut or Hallo Frau Nachbar market. And then I am easily to be found: in all places with good beer.

If you like to know more about Kathy and Jörg and how she founded Besserbrauer check out the Hamburg Startup Monitor Profile.

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.