Over the years, I've learned a lot about what it takes to build a strong community. In two years, our community has grown and blossomed into something more than just a network. This past July we opened our second hub in Hamburg, and now it feels more like a movement.
Our talks, workshops, hackathons and mentorship programs have connected women through a grassroots structure and built a space to share wisdom and experience. It's been a pleasure to watch the interaction between the women in our community and to see the shared value in helping one another.
After much consideration, we've decided to expand the Geekettes footprint beyond Germany and unite women across Europe and America with hopes of someday expanding to Asia, Latin American, Africa and further beyond. But for now, we're not biting off more than we can chew and we're going to expand into a select number of cities where we see strong community leaders with their hearts in the right place.
Over the years, I've had the wonderful opportunity to build personal relationships with brilliant women of tech across the globe. Women who are pioneering their own businesses, women who are building their own products, women who are creating communities and inspiring the next generation of women to follow in their footsteps.
Berlin - I had the pleasure of meeting Denise at the first Rails Girls event where we connected over a shared interest in learning how to code. Later she would join me to become Cofounder of the Geekettes organization, and together we took the leap and left our daytime jobs to go full-time with our pursuit of bringing more women into the tech industry. We see this as a very important goal to have in the coming years and we're so very happy to be working with our ambassadors Lisa, Aurelie and Amelie. End goal? We want to work in an industry that is diverse and have a long-lasting impact for the future.
Hamburg - Later we would connect with Diana, a mom and full time engineer who participated in the first Berlin Geekettes hackathon. She was impressed by the two-day event and asked if Tina and herself could spearhead the second hub in their hometown of Hamburg. We loved their ideas and collectively said "lets do it". They are really killing it right now and we couldn't be more proud of their work and dedication.
London - After our first hackathon, a wonderful Facebook engineer based in London introduced us to Marily. She is a bright-eyed, high-spirited individual who fell in love with Berlin Geekettes and took the step to reach out to us and ask if we would consider opening up in London. We connected over a shared interest in getting more women into hackathons and this in turn got us thinking about the bigger picture. She later introduced us to Claire who was also a big fan of supporting women and together they are ready to rock it in London town.
Maastricht - I met Ana through the Maastricht Week of Entrepreneurship. She graciously invited me to be a guest speaker and I had a really wonderful time connecting with her peers. All were studying in their Masters and PhD programs and were interested in possibly jumpstarting their own businesses. It was wonderful to see them open up, discuss issues in the industry and brainstorm solutions for the future. Ana has a way of effortlessly connecting people and building programs all over Europe. In many ways, she will be welcoming next gen of women into the tech industry through her outreach at University. I'm excited to see what's to come.
NYC - Ahhh, my old stomping grounds. A wonderful city with amazing women. I'm so lucky that I had the pleasure of building a friendship with Anna and Hollie. I studied with Anna in London and would later reconnect with her in NYC. Together we shared a passion for music, and today we share a passion for tech. It's the future, but these are definitely gals I wouldn't mind heading to a SXSW rock show with. We are also gaining support from Wendy and Florencia, dear friends from my days studying at LSE. All of them make up a very diverse team that will surely introduce a diverse set of programs this year.
Portugal - If you live in Europe and work in tech, you have probably met Ines. If not, you're living under a rock. Here is a woman who is uniting European entrepreneurs and connecting interesting people across countries. We met through Sandbox, another powerful community that has a presence in different corners of the world. She introduced me to Ana at the Switch Conference in Lisbon. Ana spearheaded coding initiatives in Portugal among many other achievements. Together, the two will host Geekettes events across many cities, so get ready!
Twin Cities - Ok, this one was a no brainer for me. Minneapolis is my hometown and will always be where my heart is. I was so excited to reconnect with an old colleague Sara over a discussion around the Grace Hopper Conference. You could hear the excitement in her voice and through her emails. She was blown away by the energy and collaborative spirit of the conference. She took that energy and spearheaded a movement within Best Buy and would later reach out to us in hopes of expanding the Geekettes footprint to the Twin Cities. She would then later introduce us to her colleague Shruti, a talented engineer who had a keen interest on helping us grow. P.S. You can be sure my mother will be attending future meet ups ;)
I'm really looking forward to 2014. This is the year that I believe we will see a major evolution for women in tech. With programs sprouting all over the world to support women, we're definitely going to see some big progress. More women will begin starting their own businesses, breaking into engineering roles and pioneering fresh ideas within the industry as a whole. I'm more confident than ever before and very excited to see what our new ambassadors will create in their respective cities. We hope to someday bring all the women in each new city together and foster a collaborative environment that crosses all borders. Synergies between ambassadors are already happening, I can only imagine what will happen next.
If you want to join our community, please sign up for membership today: http://www.geekettes.io/membership/
Official hashtag: #geekettesgoglobal