In a keynote at Meet & Pitch: Stealth Mode, Dr. Alexander Hirschfeld (Head of Research Division at German Startups Association) outlined how connections to existing sectors and economies exclude female talent from the startup industry.
Following his keynote, Factory Berlin’s Chief Relationship Officer, Catherine Bischoff, sat down with Alex, Leitha Matz (Zuper GmbH co-founder/ Stealth Mode mentor) and Lara Kalashnikova (Tblondi founder/ Stealth Mode mentee) to answer the question: How can female founders bridge the gender gap in capital and network opportunities?
Here’s their top five tips:
1: Look for a mentor with recent experience.
Leitha Matz advised, “When you are looking for a mentor, look for somebody who is a step or two ahead of where you are today, and maybe not the person who is at the end of their career cycle. These mentors have more recent experience to offer you.”
2: Delve into sector-specific networking to unlock capital opportunities.
Dr. Alexander Hirschfeld offered a simple solution to overcoming gender bias in capital opportunities: get caught up in the details.
“Talk to people who have a strong interest in you and are interested in what you are doing. As soon as you go into the details, gender doesn’t matter. Get people interested in what you are doing in your sector and in your business, and it won’t matter.”
“All of your relationships require time - it’s like watering your plants. You can’t give your plants all the water in one day and think they are going to grow. They need a little bit every week and so do your relationships. All of that needs to be on a regular cadence.”
3: Maintain your relationships by reaching out at a regular cadence.
Leitha further remarked, “Consider having a personal CRM. All of your relationships require time – it’s like watering your plants. You can’t give your plants all the water in one day and think they are going to grow. They need a little bit every week and so do your relationships. All of that needs to be on a regular cadence.”
4: Make connections with established networks.
Tblondi founder Lara Kalashnikova expressed her first-hand experience of struggling to find her network in Berlin.
She explained that finding established networks “is definitely not easy. I moved to Berlin two years ago and I didn’t know anybody. I was looking for a group of like-minded people which is how I was introduced to Factory Berlin and later to the Stealth Mode program.”
5: Use programs and accelerators to find your tribe.
As the 10 female founders of Stealth Mode delivered their product pitches, it was clear that they had found their ‘tribe’.
Following the event, we caught up with several other mentees who expressed their gratitude for meeting fellow founders in the Stealth Mode program, including Hormonella co-founder Felicitas Dammertz:
“Stealth Mode accompanied me in my first steps of incorporating and building my company – I couldn’t have wished for better support and guidance along this exciting & challenging journey.”
Stealth Mode is a three-month mentorship program that supports the next generation of female, non-binary and female-identifying tech leaders and startup founders. It connects people at the inception phase of their business or product with leaders from across tech and business to guide them from idea to MVP.