SCALING A SOCIAL BUSINESS
In the best case, growth in startups is an organic process with which all relevant areas have been able to develop appropriately. As a rule, it doesn’t work that way. Globalization and digitization, project complexity, more dynamic growth targets, recruiting, etc.; all of this increasingly brings entrepreneurs and their management teams to borderline areas.
Too little time for real strategy development and exchange with others. Lack of responsiveness to market changes. Healthy numbers on paper, but a feeling of being out of control and losing quality of work and life as too high a price to pay. Lack of clarity about what you really stand for as a company. These are just some of the symptoms that result from growing too fast and unhealthily. Nevertheless, the buzzwords „growth hacks“ and „scaling“ are on everyone’s lips. However, a company should not simply grow wildly, but above all healthily.
Sustainable business models and sustainable growth, are found primarily in the area of social business. Almost half of the social enterprises in Germany are founded by women. In this Safe Space we want to discuss what startups and especially female founders need to grow healthily.
TURNING FUCK-UPS INTO WINS
The culture of failure has been preached at the latest with the advent of lean startups and agile work structures. „Fail fast, fail often, fail forward!“ is the claim to fame. Easier said than done. Women who are active in so-called male domains are punished more severely when they make mistakes and must expect their competence to be questioned. Not to mention the fact that women are generally more risk-averse and rarely adorn themselves with phrases like „What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
In this Safe Space, we want to talk about the failure that people usually want to hide. Not the romanticized failure that led to a grandiose business idea – the mere failure, without any euphemisms. Let’s make it socially acceptable together, after all, we all have to go through it at some point. And while we’re on the subject of clichés, a problem shared is a problem halved. So here’s to failure, loud and proud!
HOW TO MAKE AN IMPACT WITH SCIENCE
While startups currently refer to agile and lean processes, in science it can sometimes take decades before the research object can move out of the lab and into the real world. Although both are hypothesis-based, most research does not focus on commercializing the results – let alone developing a marketable product or service. While patents and other forms of intellectual property can be significant sources of revenue, the opportunities for commercialization are rarely fully exploited in the context of entrepreneurship. The trend of research-based companies is currently on the rise, but female entrepreneurs with STEM backgrounds are often sought in vain. Together, we would like to shed light on how women from the research sector can be strengthened and inspired for entrepreneurship.
FUNDING THE FUTURE
In companies led by women, VCs invested only 2.3% of the available venture capital worldwide last year. The overwhelming majority of 82% of startups funded by the private equity industry do not have a female co-founder on the team. To be sure, this is partly because women are, in effect, simply founding fewer and are primarily active in social startups, which are rarely a VC case. But that is not all. The prevailing bias should also not be ignored here: Investors treat founders differently. This is noticeable, among other things, in the questions. While men are asked so-called „promotion questions,“ such as about the total addressable market, women are asked primarily about prevention, such as how they intend to defend their market share.
New technologies promise changes in the investment process. According to a recent forecast by Gartner Inc, AI will be involved in 75% of venture capitalists‘ investment decisions by 2025, up from less than 5% today. Hopefully, AIs will be less biased than humans and contribute to a fairer distribution of capital. These and other topics will be discussed in a panel of investors and experts.
Of course, pitches are a must at an event centered around the buzzword fempreneurship. In three-minute pitches, five teams from the four universities present their companies. The goal is to give them visibility in the community and beyond, provide feedback on their pitch, product or business model, generate enthusiasm for what they’re building, and maybe even light a fire or two in people interested in starting a business.
CLOSING SPEECH: FORM BONDS!
In the history of the women’s movement, it has rarely been just one woman who has drawn attention to herself and the cause. They have acted collectively and made their voices heard against structural ills. Awareness of these outdated structures is slowly rising in the mainstream, but the work is far from over. We need to band together instead of working against each other. We need to form bonds and continue to stand strong against these structures. Let’s work for and with each other instead of sharpening elbows. Because together we are stronger!