11. June 2014–
The Geekettes, a global organization that supports women in tech, put on its first ever European Demo Day at Google Berlin last Friday. The full-day event consisted of keynote speeches from women influencers including Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, a panel discussion and ten startup pitches. Berlin entrepreneurs captured the four top prizes for their businesses with Bloomy Days taking 1st place as the "clear winner".
Particularly interesting was the panel (pictured above) moderated by Erickson with Bedy Yang from 500 Startups, Lina Chong from Hasso Plattner Ventures and Sofia Hmich from Index Ventures. The panel discussed the gender disparities in tech, its roots and how that is reflected in the differences between female and male entrepreneurs. Here is what each had to say about the difference in pitching styles between men and women and what all entrepreneurs can possibly learn from each other to improve their pitch.
Bedy Yang (500 Startups): I think that people think that [pitching styles are] different, since people think they are different. It is true. You create pre-judgement on something, and that is when it is wrong. It is really interesting. We see people pitching all the time. When a male pitches and he is not confident, no one would say: "Oh, because you are a male, you are not confident." But if a woman comes in, and she has a soft voice people think, because you are a woman then A, B and C. It is a little bit of us trying to isolate ourselves on prejudice that we have about gender differences.
Sofia Hmich (Index Ventures) responds: I do think there are differences though. When you ask an entrepreneur about why they started [their company], [women] will link it with her personal life. I needed this, so I created that. When you ask men, they say that there is a business...Women are often really detail-oriented, which is great for an investor since then you have a very thoughtful conversation. But it can sometimes lead to a lack of confidence, since this 'I’m so aware of what is not working that I am going to tell it to you' can scare your investor.
Lina Chong (Hasso Plattner Ventures) concludes: I also find that a lot of women founders, when they pitch, they really try to tap into their emotional sides. They tend to smile and move around a little bit more. On the one hand, it makes them look not strict, but on the other hand, it plays to a different aspect of being human which is that personal connection.
Up next were the ten selected startups pitches to judges from 500 Startups, Index Ventures, Earlybird and McKinsey & Company. After the five minute pitches and a deliberation by the judges, Berlin-based startup Bloomy Days took the top spot with frestyl, KptnCook and CareerFoundry following. The prizes were a McKinsey & Company Coaching Package, which includes individual coaching and a business plan review. As a surprise, Bloomy Days and frestyl also won a lunch with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Want to learn more about the startups that competed? Meet some of the Berlin women entrepreneurs who took the stage Friday and find out how they are looking to disrupt their industries.
Bloomy Days (1st Place)
Founder: Franziska Hardenberg
The Business: Bloomy Days is a nationwide subscription service for cut flowers. Since it buys its flowers directly from the market, the startup claims that its products are four days fresher than flowers from a shop. That has convinced Hardenberg that Bloomy Days is ready to expand from Germany to neighboring countries where the flowers can be delivered within 48 hours.
frestyl (2nd Place)
The Business: frestyl is a live music event discovery app for Berlin. Event promotors can use frestyl to create buzz around their events while app users can discover shows according to their tastes, stream playlists and access special offers. The next step for frestyl is expansion into other major German cities. frestyl also won as the audience favorite at the Geekettes Demo Day.
KptnCook (3rd Place)
The Business: "We make the decision 'what’s for dinner?' much easier," says Marchenko. KptnCook's iOS app provides users with three recipes each day, step-by-step cooking pictures and shopping lists with prices from local supermarkets. At the moment, KptnCook is splitting its time between San Francisco and Berlin and is working on securing seed investment.
CareerFoundry (4th Place)
The Business: CareerFoundry wants to help students not only learn web development and UX design but also launch a career in those fields. In her pitch, Rein pointed to the large number of online courses currently available for tech-career hopefuls. According to Rein, however, they are lacking the mentorship offered by CareerFoundry to motivate and guide students to success.
Founders: Susann Hoffmann (right) & Nora-Vanessa Wohlert (left)
The Business: EDITION F is a customizable business-lifestyle platform for women. The content on the website includes an online magazine, job board and a marketplace for business-related and fashion products.
Founder: Nina Blasberg
The Business: onbelle is an online site where women can assemble a personalized box of clothing and accessories to be sent to them for a fixed monthly price. The customer can keep the products for as long as desired and can choose to purchase the clothing at a reduced price. Once a customer sends back a box, the next one is delivered.
Founder: Anna Rose
The Business: Videopath is an interactive video SaaS product for businesses. It allows users to layer content such as websites, social media and pictures over videos to provide viewers with more context. Videopath's next step is its product launch.
Image Credit: Elena Rueckert/VentureVillage and Berlin Geekettes