Yesterday, over 500 technology-curious conference goers descended upon Central Hall Westminster for LeWeb’s second year in London. Attendees listened to leaders of the New Sharing Economy, connected with like-minded people and discussed a movement that represents a major economic, social and cultural shift in our world + today. Berlin Geekettes was there to learn about emerging digital marketplaces and more importantly, find the leading ladies of Europe who were rocking the tech scene in London.
First stop was breakfast at Priya Prakash’s place near Elephant and Castle. We met Priya earlier that year in Berlin while she was building her company at an incubator called hub:arum. She is the founder of Design for Social Change and Changify - a mobile crowd funding platform for better neighborhoods. This is a woman to be watched and of course she is always welcome back to Germany to visit the Berlin Geekettes! We miss her dearly.
After a spot of tea, we ran over to LeWeb and met up with Magdalena Kron and Robyn Exton who run Geek Girl Meetup in London. GGM is an un-conference for geeky girls and women interested in web, code and start ups. We discussed creating an exchange program where 30 Berlin Geekettes could travel to London and 30 Geek Girls would head out to Berlin. The exchange would allow ladies to learn more about each other’s startups but also get a glimpse into each other’s respective tech hubs. In the near future, we’ll be setting up a one day conference on July 13th. If you’re interested in becoming a speaker, apply here: http://www.geekgirlmeetup.de.
After lunch, we popped back into LeWeb and listened to IBM software engineer - turned - founder, Leah Busque. She discussed her work and inspiration for founding Task Rabbit, an errand outsourcing service that really empowered the unemployed during the recession. “When I launched the community in Boston, I realized that many of the people who were using the platform were recently laid off. The community included lawyers, pharmacists, young professionals and stay-at-home moms." She doesn’t believe Taskrabbit emerged from the recession, but sees it as a phenomenon where micro-entrepreneurs started to emerge and took work into their own hands. We hope they’ll launch in Berlin soon as we’ve got a long laundry list of things we could use an extra pair of hands for!
After the talk, we meandered our way through the crowds and ran into 3 outstanding ladies who were really shaking things up across Europe. We asked them what they were working on and to list one challenge that they faced over this past year, and how they overcame it:
Maeva Tordo: is developing the Blue Factory which is a startup incubator of ESCP Europe helping brave and social innovative startups grow in Paris, London, Madrid, Berlin and Torino.
"One of the biggest challenges I faced this year has been the European expansion of the Blue Factory. Initiated in September 2012 in Paris, the development of the incubator in Berlin couldn’t be a simple copy paste of the program. Understanding the local ecosystem, getting to know the main actors, identifying the needs and best value proposition the Blue Factory could offer without reinventing the wheel. The best way to solve this challenge has been to listen and observe a lot and then meet amazing local coordinators who are now developing the Blue Factory in Berlin and Madrid keeping the essence of the incubator philosophy and creating new relevant bricks for the program in the ‘lean and agile incubator’ spirit."
Hanna Aase: Founder of Wonderloop.me, an off the record networking app that captures who you are as a person, your dreams and goals and strives to make an impact in people’s lives that we don’t even know yet. Think new people = new opportunities.
"Biggest challenge: the chicken and egg problem. No one will invest in an idea and if you don’t code than you need to have resources to pay. Looking for a technical co-founder might be easy if you live in a city with a tech environment but I have lived in a small town in Norway all my life, even a flight away from Oslo so its been a challenge from all views. Than I got a decline from the Norwegian government on funding that TechCrunch wrote about and that caused a wave in Norway that’s also been a challenge as they froze me out after that for being in TechCrunch. I then flew to Silicon Valley and have been in New York a lot. We now have some of the biggest companies and founders in the world on board and after that it all goes a lot easier but the road up to now has been a 1.5 year long one."
Ayelet Noff: Founder and Co-CEO of Blonde 2.0 - helps companies big and small create brand awareness through social media tools and engage with consumers and influencers in the most personalized manner.
"Biggest challenge - As Blonde 2.0 has been expanding globally, I’ve needed to learn how to manage locally while traveling globally all the time. I’ve learnt that everything can be done virtually and at the same time I’m more productive since I am able to evangelize the companies that we are working with all over to the world to the top leaders of the tech space."
It was inspiring to hear more about their work and you could really sense the passion these talented ladies had for their future projects/companies. I was excited to find more female founders in London and last stop of the day would be the home of Courtney Boyd Myers, a friend and former fellow colleague at General Assembly who is now developing her own business called audience.io, an audience development studio for startups in New York and London.
I’m so lucky to have a friend that not only enjoys connecting people in tech but also over a delicious meal. In celebration of our next chapter, she encouraged me to invite a few friends over and together we climbed up to her gorgeous rooftop in Islington and sipped on prosecco as the sunset over London. Later that evening, in true CBM fashion, she whipped up a delicious fish dish as we swapped stories with Itaxso del-Palacio, co-founder at Foudersfit (who brushed us up on some financing basics and valuations).
In the end, I was truly inspired by the ladies I had met on this trip to London. Many thanks to LeWeb for giving me the opportunity to connect, learn and grow. I hope to be returning soon and look forward to learning more about London’s burgeoning tech hub.