Are you a female founder juggling a startup and kids or thinking of having a baby soon?
Allyson Downey, co-founder of weeSpring (NYC ‘13), knows how tough it is to navigate pregnancy, parenthood and profession. She took her own experience, plus the wisdom she gathered interviewing 75 women who have “successfully traversed the minefield that is having a baby while having a career,” and put it all together in a hands-on guide called, Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood.
“For many women in their 20’s and 30’s, the greatest professional hurdle they’ll need to overcome has little to do with their work life. The most focused, confident, and ambitious women can find themselves derailed by a tiny little thing: a new baby. Here’s the Plan offers an inspiring roadmap for working mothers steering their careers through the parenting years.”
Learn more about Allyson in the Founder Spotlight below and check out the book!
Today’s post comes from Nishika de Rosairo, CEO, Creative Director, and founder of dE ROSAIRO. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Nishika built a corporate career with Deloitte, Cisco, and Salesforce. In addition to leading her business, Nishika serves on several boards including Startup Women, Upward, and the Center for International Business Education and Research.
“Aren’t you scared?”
“What will you do if you fail?”
“You have no experience in the industry, how will you succeed?”
“Don’t worry, you can always go back to Corporate America”
… and so the questions and comments flooded in…
What surprised me the most was that these questions and comments were being dished out from a combination of people who knew me very well, and also from those who didn’t know me at all.
I soon started to realize that non-entrepreneurs were projecting their own anxieties of starting a business onto me.
So the real question became:
How do you listen to the parts that matter, and turn off the parts that don’t?
An Entrepreneur is Born
For me, entrepreneurship has always felt very real. I was still a teenager when I came to the realization that life would be boring if everyone succumbed to practices and principles denoting linear patterns of thinking and execution, simply because they made life easy to explain and easy to understand.
My version of happiness started to emerge around the same time when I turned to mentors such as Sir Richard Branson and Anthony Robbins. They taught me that happiness was a state of mind, achieved through a non-linear journey of strategy, discovery, and perspective: the perfect mindset for an entrepreneur.
I grew up with an adventurous spirit, and by the time I reached my 30s, I was living on my fourth continent, had traveled to over 40 countries, and my career in the corporate world was ripe and flourishing. Over my 10 years in Corporate America, I had the incredible opportunity of learning a repertoire of deep knowledge and expertise from the best of the best: Deloitte Consulting, Salesforce, Apple, Levi, Cisco, Chevron, and many others.
Even still, I wanted more.
I decided it was time to turn in the stability of a steady paycheck for something that was much more adventurous and impactful.
I wanted to change the world, one design at a time.
Building a Business
Finally, my business – dE ROSAIRO (pronounced ‘day ro-zai-ro’) — was born: it was a childhood dream coupled with a deep desire to influence the world through the inherent psychology behind the clothes we wear.
I spent 10 months writing my business plan and building the business on nights and weekends, all while still employed full time at Salesforce. At the end of that time, I had my first collection of sketches sitting on hangers in a sales showroom in Los Angeles. I built dE ROSAIRO on the founding principle of ‘Look Feel Lead’, which translates into — how you Look, is how you Feel, is how you Lead. The idea being that how we dress influences how we feel, and on the flipside, how we feel influences how we dress.
No matter how many people have shared their years of wisdom with me, not one person, or any one experience, could have truly prepared me for the broad depth and range of mental and physical strength it takes to be an entrepreneur.
Doubt is Part of the Journey
There are days I have wanted to pull my hair out, and then there are days that I know I am doing exactly what I should be. I would be lying if I didn’t admit the rough days.
But the truth is: doubt is a part of the journey, as it continues to provide me with an opportunity to question even my most basic set of assumptions. Healthy businesses cannot be built on complacency and self-assurance.
Mistakes will be made, money will be lost, and through it all, the question that we will need to keep answering is – am I still aligned with my vision?
Why does alignment matter? It matters for two key reasons:
- When we launch a business, we should aim to build a foundation that aligns with our personal set of values. We need to ask ourselves: what matters to me? How do I want to affect the lives of others? What do I want my legacy to be?
- Doing ‘good business’ is no longer the icing on the cake; in today’s world it is a basic expectation. This means we each have a role to play.
Through this journey, what I’ve come to discover is: there is no greater measure of self-fulfillment than when profit, individual values, and ‘good business’ intersect.
So when you’re on the brink of YOUR entrepreneurial journey, and when people ask you:
“Aren’t you scared?”
“What will you do if you fail?”
“You have no experience in the industry, how will you succeed?”
Tell them that you would rather give it your best shot than regret not trying.
Tell them that you desire transformative growth in your life that a steady paycheck cannot provide.
Tell them that changing the world is worth the calculated gamble.
On Friday, 13 Nov, Startup Weekend friends old and new came together in London at Innovation Warehouse for networking, learnings and drinks.
THANKS FOR THE DIRECTIONS!
David Haber, Lead Software Engineer at Soma Analytics and Co-founder of Import Classes, shared his top web development tools for non-developers, giving the attendees of our upcoming event a toolkit to ‘hack’ their way to a Startup Weekend win. David has kindly shared a list of the tools he discussed here.
DAVID HABER PRESENTS TO A FULL HOUSE
Next up, we welcomed our panel of previous SW winners to discuss their experiences and top tips for SW success. The panel featured JinA Bae from ChopChop, Ray Ziai from Mode for Me, and Amalia Agathou, seasoned Startup Weekend mentor and organizer. Everyone agreed – Startup Weekend played a crucial role in building the network they needed to get their startups off the ground. Some of our favourite quotes from the panel included:
- “Be translucent about your skills and be specific to what you can bring to the table and what you are looking for. Become friends and bond with your team beyond the Startup Weekend.”
- “Make the most of the mentors!”
- “Be flexible and make sure you validate your idea. You might find out something you didn’t know as you go.”
- “Bootstrap as long as you can – the more progress you’ve made, the more negotiating power you have”
GREAT FEMALE REPRESENTATION ON THE PANEL!
Thanks to everyone for making this a great evening!
Don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming event, Startup Weekend Food, 4-6 Dec, where you might meet your next co-founders and can put all of this great advice into practice!
For any questions, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
It’s over – a weekend full of networking, teamwork, innovative approaches, and awesome pitches, but most important a weekend full of awesomeness, growing beyond limits and turning ideas into reality! Startup Weekend Women took place from 10th – 12th April 2015 at Gründerwerft in Hamburg. The participants spent all weekend with a cohort of strangers who, like you, want to see what starting a startup is all about. However they were introduced not only to a bunch of ambitious dreamers, but to a network of experienced startup people who were running successful companies in Hamburg, raised venture capital or were themselves VCs or angel investors – looking for great local ideas!
This Startup Weekend was all about testing your ideas and meeting awesome people you probably would never have met otherwise! It’s about learning how a startup works, what problems a startup might have, how to co-work with others, how to deal with VC, how to lead a team, how to pitch your idea and being amazed by people’s creativity, by the strength of their mind! You might now realize that you spend a whole weekend working like crazy, learning and growing beyond limits!
On Friday there was a room full of ideas, 33 ideas to be precise. Two days later we had a room full of new and innovative business concepts and 11 teams were ready to pitch their idea in front of our jury and the greater audience! WOW! We are extremely proud that so many awesome and innovative business ideas were born at this Startup Weekend!
Although the purpose of a Startup Weekend is not about winning a competition, but rather about the awesome experience, on sunday evening everyone was curious which teams and ideas will convince the audience as well as the jury! So, there were given a few prizes in four categories to help their startup grow after the weekend is over… and these are the winners:
BEST DESIGN – BringMeToArt
Team BringMeToArt won the prize for the BEST DESIGN. BringMeToArt is an app that compiles all dates and venues for art lovers. It’s designed as a paid app with ticketing and audio guide functionalities aimed for Hamburg. The jury was impressed by the design that quickly made everyone understand how the solution will work.
BEST PITCH – SpizeClub
Team Spizeclub won the prize for the BEST PITCH. SpizeClub aims to be an online platform where gourmets can choose their spice mixes itself, while receiving guidance on what individual spices work well together and which not.
OVERALL WINNER AND AUDIENCE CHOICE – Comate.me
Team comate.me really rocked this weekend. First they won the AUDIENCE AWARD and a few minutes later they were chosen as OVERALL WINNER by the jury, too! WOW! Comate.me is a service that helps you find the perfect roommates by personality criteria. The Team was definitely overwhelmed by winning two prizes!
Congratulations to all of you!
We believe that it is possible to keep moving ahead after Startup Weekend and we dare to believe that the spark that we fired on Startup Weekend is a real possibility to get your startup off the ground! During this Startup Weekend we have collected phrases and favourite quotes from our participants and the female founders we’ve interviewed. So, we have put together a Startup Weekend Manifesto to keep the spirit alive! 🙂
We heartily wish that more startups born out of Startup Weekend across the globe turn into new real companies, that create jobs, innovation and hope for the world. With a hands-on approach and lots of BÄÄÄM-spirit we can make it happen!
After half a year of organization and hundreds of meetings, planning and working on everything to be perfect at the weekend itself, we can not believe it’s over!
We wish you all the best and we are looking forward to seeing you soon again. Feel free to contact us after Startup Weekend if you need any advice or guidance with any of your future business ideas.
Thank you for making this Startup Weekend so special! – Your Organizing Team
If you’re a female and you have ever attended a startup community event, you may have noticed that you might be one of few women in the room. You may have even been the only woman in the room. And you may have noticed that this is a common occurrence.
My co-organizers have all recognized the same thing I have seen: because women are often just a fraction of the attendees at a startup event, the focus and atmosphere just isn’t always conducive for women to truly participate comfortably – whether it be a pitchfest, hackathon, or hey – Startup Weekend.
This isn’t unique to startup culture, of course. Inequality in the workplace forms spaces where women aren’t able to contribute to their full potential. When it’s more difficult to be heard, the likelihood of stepping up into a role or responsibility is even more difficult. When you throw a tech-centric event into the mix, where women are typically outnumbered by men, the politics of gender, power, and privilege become a bigger issue. It’s already tough enough to step up in front of a lot of people, pitch an idea, and work the crowd! If you look out into a sea of faces and see very few faces that resemble your own, how encouraging is that? What if you’re introverted? What if you’re shy?
On top of the bravery it takes to stand up, pitch, and pour your heart and soul into a weekend of building a business, it’s a lot to face the dynamic created by inequality. We want to remove the pressure of that dynamic and provide a space where women can feel less like the minority, and more like the faces in the crowd are there to hear them out. As a women who have often been the only gals in the crowd, we know that it will make for an entirely different experience – for both women and men.
We’re excited to make this an event about empowering women. One really great part about that is that it doesn’t mean that just women should attend; some of our organizers are men, and they, too, understand that equality takes all of us. We hope you will join us and show us the energy and enthusiasm that comes with believing in an equal and empowering setting for women.
Overall, we really want to see women shine at this event. We want to see more women pitch, more women lead, and more women feeling empowered after leaving this event. We want to see this event make a difference in women’s lives and we’re excited to do this with Startup Weekend in sunny San Diego.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Katharina Wolff is Founder of Premium Consultants, a recruiting agency for digital talents in the digital / Tech / Startup field.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
People in tech often compliment each other on their ‘hustle.’ As I understand it, complimenting someone’s hustle is analogous to congratulating them for their tendency to get sh*t done. Apparently ‘hustle’ is what the kids are calling a ‘work ethic’ these days.
Whatever you want to call it, success in startups boils down to a bias towards action and a machine-like calibration for efficacy: only the fast and the smart survive.
This Darwinian law has created an insatiable appetite in the market for SaaS solutions designed to facilitate startup hustle. Founders must have polymathic expertise in both their market and their industry. The latter compels you to understand what tools exist to improve your effectiveness and your speed to market. Not enough startups treat the process with the intellectual rigour it demands…it’s no surprise then that most startups fail.
With Dublin Startup Weekend less than three weeks away, Gravity Centres, asked me to compile an overview of some of my favourite bootstrapping tools to help the teams get an early leg up on their competition.
Using tools to help you work faster and smarter at Startup Weekend is a very good idea, but trying them out for the first time at Startup Weekend? Notsomuch. Most of the tools mentioned below have free tiers and free trials, allowing you to familiarize yourself with the product in advance and add significant value to your startup weekend projects.
To add a narrative element to what would otherwise be just a list of products, I’ve included a brief case study of a micro-project that I undertook a few weeks ago. Using only online tools, a lowly non-techie like myself was able to land at #5 on the HackerNews homepage within 20 mins of launch, become the most popular story of the day on the Next Web, and get hunted to Product Hunt within 2 hours.
So, use your 3 weeks wisely teams, and we look forward to complimenting you on your hustle at the finish line!
Startup Tools Case Study
Plz Don’t Hunt Me Yet
I’m intrigued by the idea of building ‘faux’ products in aid of your real commercial effort. I’ve heard this marketing technique also referred to as “Come for X, Stay for Y”. This could be a book, a tool, or a toy — anything that through a related or unrelated product, draws attention to your main gig.
With this in mind, I decided to see if I could build something in fewer than 4 hours, and with less than 20 bucks, with the ultimate goal of eventually being listed on Product Hunt. From this experimental question, the Plz Don’t Hunt Me Yet Badges were born.
Do the badges look a bit hokey? For sure.
But, did they fulfil the brief and get my primary product thousands of hits and dozens of beta signups? You betcha.
Briefly, the tools I used for PDHMY were:
- Tumblr: Free website hosting.
- Microsoft Word: To design mockups of each of the badges.
- Fiverr: I took my MS Word mockups and paid a designer $5 on Fiverr to convert each into hi-res image files.
- Typeform: I added a customized, embeddable Typeform to collect submission information from each lead.
- Canva: Used to design all my marketing and social network visuals.
- Buffer: To drip tweets over a week at strategic times of day.
- Rapportive: to quickly evaluate each new lead in terms of value and influence.
TL;DR: I spent 3.5 hours and $16.50 on the PDHMY experiment. My primary product — Tapir — is still in pre-launch, so we haven’t done any marketing yet. Since our existing site traffic was so low, the PDHMY attention made a huge impact (see below). The project was also buckets of fun.
And now for the more complete list of tools…A quick heads up, that you can’t build a list like this without making some subjective value judgments. At the end of the day, I’m a Mac, not a PC; a Stripe, not a Braintree; a Buffer, not a Hootsuite…you get the idea. Other options exist and I encourage you to tweet us your faves.
Multi-Purpose & General Bootstrapping Tools
- Product Hunt (Free) — Product Hunt is a startup kingmaker. Being listed on the PH homepage guarantees fame, fortune, and success. Well, maybe not the last two, but it does promise unprecedented attention for small startups. Read the comments when other products launch to find useful and common critiques that should be addressed in your own products. Suss out the best pre-launch marketing tactics and be inspired by the ingenuity of other makers. And if you need a specific tool for a job, PH should be your first port of call. It’s become a useful compendium of SaaS products, often with exclusive discounts applied for Product Hunters. Hiten Shah has also compiled a particularly good collection of free tools for startups.
- GrowthHackers (Free) — regardless of the startup bravado we exude, none of us are pros. By definition, startups must operate under conditions of extreme uncertainty. How well do you understand your market? How aware are you of effective growth tactics, theories, and methodologies? Learn from your peers, eliminate some uncertainty, and get your butt to GrowthHackers.
- Intercom (Free Plan & Free Trial) — Hometown heroes Intercom allow startups to send targeted email and in-app messages, triggered by time or behaviour. Once you become familiar with Intercom’s telltale question mark icon, you’ll notice their widget across the internet in the bottom righthand screen of your favourite startups. And for goodness sake, make sure that you’re following the Intercom blog.
- BetaList (Free) — How do you get beta users before you’ve even finished building your product? You join the likes of Pintrest, IFTTT, and Fab, by getting featured on BetaList before you launch. While you likely won’t have enough time during Startup Weekend to submit — expedited posting takes 72 hours — BetaList is an excellent resource for startups looking to design compelling landing pages. In fact, Marc (BetaList founder and one of the SW Dublin remote mentors) has compiled this handy document outlining How to Build a Successful Beta Landing Page.
- Typeform (Free Plan) — Boiled down, a lot of product development involves forms in one ‘form’ or another (pun verymuch intended).
From customer research, to onboarding, to payment and satisfaction surveys, forms are often the medium through which we connect with our audience.
So, why the heck did we ever settle for ugly, janky forms? Typeform is the form you need, when you need it, looking beautiful and asking awesomely.
Product Management & Communication
- Slack (Free Plan) — Slack may be the fastest growing enterprise app in history and it’s certainly one of the fastest startups to reach a billion dollar valuation. That last designation might be arbitrary as f*ck, but these superlatives arise from the product’s extreme utility as a team communication tool. I have a theory that a number of enterprises could forgo their silly corporate innovation programs, instead adopting Slack to achieve a better ROI. For oft-dispersed startup teams, operating across multiple time zones and functional areas, Slack is on a mission “to make your working life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.”
- Trello (Free Plan) — Self-described as “the free, flexible, and visual way to organize anything with anyone,” Trello is many things to many people. Personally, I use Trello as a bookmarking tool, to track and sort online sources I want to come back to later, and ideas I want to blog about. Professionally, my co-founder and I use Trello as a project management tool to track each stage and milestone of Tapir’s development. I’ve also been toying with the idea of creating a Trello board to track and sort all of our beta user feedback.
- Peek User Testing (Free) — Peek provides free five minute user experience videos with real people from the interwebs. The current wait time for a video review is 2–3 days, though they sometimes arrive in only a few hours. Peek is a fun way to get a fresh perspective on your product. Just remember to take it with a grain of salt — it’s only the opinion of one person.
- Canva (Free — 1$) — I just recently learned that Guy Kawasaki is the Chief Evangelist at Canva. Makes sense, given how brilliant Canva is. Engagement rates skyrocket when you combine visual elements with your social networking content. Canva has the tools and templates you need to make it look like a professional was involved. Their ‘design school’ blog is also a terrific resource for those of us with questionable design aesthetics.
- Keynote (Free) — Getting an idea out of your head and communicating it to others is a vital step in the early validation stages of an MVP. If you’re familiar with the Google Ventures 5-Day Design Sprint, you know that Day 4 is devoted to creating a super-realistic prototype in just eight hours. While apps like InVision exist for solely this purpose, bootstrappers may also be drawn to the unconventional use of Keynote. Check out the GV guide to using the “world’s best prototyping tool.”
- Stock Up (Free) — Sure, you need to work fast, but as David Cancel says, “Ship It, but don’t Ship Shit.” There’s no excuse for startups to use terrible stock photos (let’s leave that to the big corporates). StockUp aggregates and makes searchable hundreds of free stock photo assets…free to use as you see fit.
- Fiverr ($5+ but get a free gig using this referral link) — Let me preface this tool with the age-old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Fiverr has a pretty simple pitch: get things done for $5 (though some tasks cost more). Suffice to say, buyer beware, but for simple rote tasks lacking in creativity, I’m down with Fiverr (and eventually you get used to all of the designers calling you ‘dear’).
Payments, Sales & Marketing
- Stripe (Fee per charge) — Stripe is web and mobile payments. So simple, so smart, so sexy. How many other APIs can you say that about? Stripe is unapologetically a tool built by developers for developers, combining functionality with intellectualism in a heady digital mix that’s difficult not to find appealing. Stripe understands that it’s god — not the devil — in the details. (And sure, their Irish origins make them even more likeable.)
- SlideBean (Free Plan) — Creating your Startup Weekend pitch deck is finicky and time-consuming. Why not give some thought to outsourcing the design elements to SlideBean. In addition to the option to start with a blank canvas, SlideBean offers pre-designed templates including the “3 Minute Startup Pitch” and a “10 Slide Investor Deck.” For inspiration, you can take a look at 10 SlideBean pitch decks from the most recent 500 Startups Demo Day.
- HARO (Free) — HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, is a mailing list that connects journalists looking for expertise with credible news sources. Email comes 3 times a day with time-sensitive requests for sources from diverse media outlets including Forbes, Fast Company, USA Today, and theNew York Times. Startups can use HARO to potentially garner international exposure by offering their domain expertise in topics like business, HR, travel, and lifestyle.
- Buffer (Free Plan) — Buffer is awesome (literally). As a startup, content is important, but devoting unnecessary hours to the administration of your social presence before your product is even built? Get a life. Buffer allows you to load up your tweets in advance and have them fired out atthe most strategic times throughout the week. I also, highly recommend the Buffer Chrome extension, allowing you to add content to your buffer queue directly from your browser.
- Rapportive (Free) — Rapportive shows you details about your contacts, right inside your Gmail inbox. I use Reportive to quickly evaluate beta list signups, to identify who is worth responding to immediately or tagging as a VIP. As an added bonus, it also helps you to discern when seemingly personal emails, might actually be part of a larger marketing campaign.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s WE in Focus is about Marianne Tochtermann & Jutta Schweiger, two women who 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. The 7 Chic Avenue design is feminine. Pure. Timeless and reliable. With delicate details and flattering silhouettes. They work with exquisite silk fabrics only.
7 Chic Avenue is a unique name. What is the story behind it?
Jutta: 7 Chic Avenue is a story about seven friends – me, Marianne, Anna, Helen, Sabrina, June and Yves, and how we named our humble London student residence where we all first met. Years later, when Marianne and I decided to build our fashion startup we felt the name will be quite symbolic of our partnership.
So,how did you guys come up with the idea of founding this company?
Marianne : We wanted to create our own fashion, and serve women better than with the offer that was available. We really wanted to do blouses and tops that work for every type of women and occasion independent of season, and we want to provide them with styling-input through our blog. There are very few styling blogs for women 35+.
Jutta : We make a good team – together we did what each one of us does best and loves most. Like beautiful designs, craftsmanship and visuals come from me based on my 12 years’ experience in Fashion. And Marianne delivers reliable numbers and performance based on 14 years in Strategy and management.
Wow, sounds like strong team to create a beautiful product and come up with good sales numbers. But knowing that the fashion industry being filled up with tricky choices on incorporation, finance, and protecting your brand, what kind of challenges did you specifically face as a fashion startup?
Jutta: The biggest challenge for any fashion startup is probably to find the right partners in production and sourcing. To find a company that delivers the fabrics in the desired quality was essential for us because at the end of the day that is what our final product is based on. Being patient was toughest – A lot of things just don’t happen fast as you want it to. And then when it goes fast, you are always running behind because you have too little leverage.
Marianne: Another big challenge that we face regularly is budgeting. If you are having a business loan or using your own savings, like we did for founding our business, you have to plan wisely when and for what to spend money on.
So what helped you overcome these challenges?
Jutta: For us the experiences and contacts we both made in fashion industry over the years before starting our business were very helpful. Networking was and still is an important key for us to build up our label successfully. And as we said before, budgeting is the most important thing.
As a team, what were the best moments in running your business so far?
Marianne: We are happy about being able to make quick decisions. It’s super easy to realize new ideas or improvements which is great because it lets us see our business grow every day.
For picking up such speed in business, did you acquire some extra skills beyond your professional experience?
Jutta: Luckily for us, we complement each other perfectly, and that is needed in a small start-up. It does not work when everyone wants to do Design or Sales. The skills like programming or accounting that we don’t have or don´t have time for, we outsource.
Would you recommend the same to another aspiring entrepreneur?
Jutta: Neither of us would have founded our start-up alone. It is very nice to be a team of two. So find a partner!!! Plan your finances. If you have a private partner and potentially kids, make sure that he is approving of your plans.
But coming back to skills, do you think a woman entrepreneur in general needs to have certain set of skills to start and run her business successfully?
Jutta: Every women can start their own business. But there are some things you should beware of. First – You have to be willing to work 24/7 and that means not only in the office or at your computer but your thoughts will always be with your business. Second – Know what you are good at but also where your weaknesses are and then find someone who complements your skills. And Third – Do you really love what you are planning to do? Because beneath a lot of great moments it’s the tough days that will challenge your focus.
‘Doing what we really love’ seems like a tough call for many women since we have so less female founders. Why do you think this happens?
Marianne: We are not sure that there are more male founders than female. There are many self-employed women, would you call them entrepreneurs? The statistics shows that the companies founded by men generally are or become bigger than the ones founded by women. We don’t think there are big differences between ambitious men and women. If any, it may be that financial success is more important to men and freedom more important for women.
A sense of freedom and what else will encourage more women to be entrepreneurs?
Jutta: Give them everyday role models. Yes, women may get inspired from famous and successful international entrepreneurs. But we think, what really inspires and makes it realistic is when a girlfriend or at least somebody you know can make it happen and work.
Any word of advice for the aspiring founders attending SWWHH.
Jutta: Find the right co-founder.
Thank you Jutta and Marianne for this interview. We hope entrepreneurial fashionistas like you guys are able to find the right teammates and inspiration to build their own startups.
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.