Susann Hoffmann and Nora-Vanessa Wohlert founded Edition F in 2014, committed to redefine feminism and the role of the digital woman in today’s society. Over the course of the last two-and-a-half years, the two have managed to get numerous investors on board and build up a team of 12. Today, Edition F is a hybrid of an online magazine and a community platform, aiming to foster a new kind of female identity and empowering young women to build a career they actually want. We asked Susann and Nora about online journalism, feminism and the most important values of the modern day woman.
SUSANN, YOU USED TO WORK IN CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, NORA, YOU WORKED IN TECH JOURNALISM BEFORE LAUNCHING EDITION F. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DIVE DEEP INTO THE STARTUP LIFE AND START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Susann: I never really thought about becoming an entrepreneur. It just happened that at one point in my career all important things came together. I had a short career gap, I had Nora on my side, and we had an idea how we could fill a market gap. Looking at the media landscape, we realized that there was some sort of authentic voice missing, in both female and business journalism. We’re part of our own target group, so this gap was easy to identify.
Nora: I was waiting for the right co-founder. It’s extremely important for me, as I think I wouldn’t have been able to go through this journey on my own. I like having a partner, who I can talk to and share my ideas with, but whom I can also trust with my troubles and concerns, which are constant parts of an entrepreneur’s life.
HOW DID YOU TWO MEET?
Nora: We met through a good friend a couple of years ago, but we were rather acquaintances than friends at first. It has changed in 2013, six months before we launched Edition F, when we started working together at Gründerszene. I was the managing editor at the time, Susann came later to build up the communications department for Vertical Media, the digital publisher behind Gründerszene. That was the point when we discovered that we’re a great match at work.
WHAT WERE THE MAIN ASPECTS YOU CONSIDERED WHEN YOU CHOSE YOUR CO-FOUNDER?
Susann: Choosing your co-founder is not a rational decision. I didn’t examine Nora’s skills in an Excel sheet, checking off the desired ones and marking the ones she might lack. I simply trusted my instincts and followed my gut feeling. Founding a startup is always a gamble, and you can only make sure that your idea and co-founder were the right choices after a while. I’m lucky because both our idea and co-founding with Nora worked out really well.
WOULD YOU SAY YOU COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER?
Nora: Some say that you need a technical co-founder and a business-oriented co-founder. I think the most important thing is that you share the same vision about the company and its culture, then you can create a good team together. After all, as you grow, you can’t do everything yourself.
Susann: It’s impossible to have all the skills you need in a two-founder scenario. Besides your co-founder, you need a good network of people you can rely on. Edition F was the first company Nora and I founded, so we had pick up most of the entrepreneurial skills along the way – learning by doing, as we always say.
THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF BLOGS AND MAGAZINES OUT THERE, COVERING SIMILAR TOPICS LIKE YOU DO. WHAT MAKES EDITION F STAND OUT OF THE CROWD?
Nora: Sure, there’s always competition. However, back in 2014 when we founded Edition F there was no real digital place to go for women like us – women who are interested in career, business and lifestyle topics, all in one place. There was no online medium, community or website, which would have taken women like us seriously. On the one hand, magazines for women were covering celebrities, gossip and beauty, on the other hand there was the largely male-dominated business media.
Susann: I don’t think that there are many other platforms like Edition F, quite the contrary! Combining lifestyle and business and creating a whole new twist to entrepreneurial and business topics is something unprecedented. Since our launch, many other outlets kept an eye on Edition F and some chose a similar direction. VICE has recently started Broadly in Germany, a female-oriented section, which shows that although the market is still in a very early phase, there is a big demand. We are in the forefront of a new kind of female identity and we would like to inject that into the digital media.
WHAT ARE THE MOST INNOVATIVE FEATURES OF EDITION F?
Nora: We’re not only a magazine, but we’re also a community. We would like to give a stage to women, where they can easily publish their ideas, discuss them and bring something new on the agenda. That’s why we introduced user-generated content, which means that our readers can publish their own blog posts on Edition F, just like on medium.com. We have many different authors with unique and personal stories that our editorial team could never find out about.
Susann: We’ve always been some sort of an in-between thing: in-between an editorial, community and social platform. A whole new universe opened up through the user-generated content, as we allow our readers to share their perspectives. We invite our community to participate in shaping Edition F in one way or another – that can be a piece of content, but also a webinar or an offline event.
WHO IS YOUR TARGET GROUP?
Nora: Over 80% of our readers are female, between their early twenties up to their late forties. Most of them live in an urban environment and are generally interested in career, family, traveling etc. We’re really happy to have men reading us and writing for us too. It’s important to include both sides, men and women in the discussion.
WHAT IS YOUR MAIN MESSAGE TO YOUR READERS?
Susann: You can do it, and with Edition F you have a good partner on your side.
Nora: You have a digital space, where you find know-how, ideas, inspiration, but also jobs and like-minded people to connect with.
WAS THAT A CONSCIOUS DECISION NOT TO LAUNCH A PRINT VERSION OF YOUR MAGAZINE?
Nora: We decided to go digital because that is what we believe in and we’re the best at.
WHAT IS GOOD DIGITAL JOURNALISM IN YOUR EYES? DOES SOCIAL MEDIA PLAY A BIG ROLE IN CONVEYING YOUR MESSAGE TO YOUR AUDIENCE?
Nora: In the 21st century your brand is not only about your landing page anymore, but about what you post in the different social channels, how you act at events and which influencers you’re linked to. It’s definitely important who is following you on Twitter or who is commenting on your Facebook posts. We connect these dots in order to build up one big brand.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR EDITION F?
Susann: We would like to grow stronger on the community aspects. Our mission is to build the tools that are really valuable for our readers and develop some sort of premium profile opportunities, which would include mentoring, webinar flat rate and a new forum.
THE “F” IN EDITION F STANDS FOR “FEMALE”. WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELVES AS FEMINISTS?
Susann: I’d say I’m a feminist, but not in a dogmatic way.
WHAT DOES FEMINISM MEAN TO YOU?
Susann: There’s a revival of feminism in the mainstream media nowadays, with celebrities like Beyoncé or Emma Watson in the lead, which is great and helps to create awareness. People have to understand that feminism is not only about being a tough woman, but there’s much more to it. In my opinion being a feminist doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to fight for things. It means that you stand your ground, you’re aware of your femininity and your role in society. Equality is one of your basic values, not only in regard to the rights of women, but to the rights of every human being.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN VALUES OF THE MODERN DIGITAL WOMAN IN YOUR OPINION, THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO FOSTER WITH EDITION F?
Susann: As a modern woman, you have to say goodbye to perfectionism. You should be open-minded, understand your own self-worth, know your limits and seize every opportunity to grow.