It is a cold and rainy November afternoon, but inside the office of EY it is warm and cozy. A group of 40 women of all ages and backgrounds discuss their business ideas over a cup of coffee or tea. Yesterday, TheNextWomen hosted a group-meeting in which it is all about exchanging the experiences from inspiring female startup founders.
Business accelerator TheNextWomen is on a mission to inspire female entrepreneurs. What they all have in common? They are women, they are driven and they are looking for ways to develop their ideas. In a group session, these women could share their case and the specific issues they dealt with. Moreover, they were given feedback and advice by a few successful entrepreneurs that already built their own empire.
Meet the experts
The female founders have diverse backgrounds: Diane Janknegt, founder of WizeNoze, Wendela de Goederen founder of Box Blue, Karin Stoevenbeld, CEO of Interall Group, and Karin Loohuis Director Business Development of EY and host for tonight, and were introduced to us by the one and only man in the room.
Say yes to some help
When signing up for a seat on the website, everyone had the opportunity to select ‘yes’ on sharing a startup related issue. A jury had selected four of them to share their story today. In a 3 minute pitch they explained what they do, how they are going to do it, and where they could use some help. Issues varied from being insecure about the assurances in the Netherlands and how this would all work, to the problem of where to start to find partners.
Be clear about who you are
Remarkably the tips that came out of the group focused on broader issues, such as self-awareness and market value. ‘How do you get money out of your idea’? And ‘Why should a company be interested in you?’ These questions turned out to be more important than the issues presented by the 3 daring women who stood in front of the audience. Thinking & telling about your company, your vision, your future and where your idea came from, creating a better pitch and stimulating oneself to take specific actions.
I don’t care how, but find your way
Some other, very strong advices, came from Diane Janknegt. Due to extra time we got because woman number 4 was stuck in traffic, she was asked to tell us about her experiences. Janknegt had three key recommendations for the audience. First of all: Build a team around you. ‘If it is a team that is smarter than you, you are in. With a good team, you can always survive’. Her second suggestion was to remember your passion. It is really important to think about that when things start to become difficult; ‘Remember why this is really you, and stick to your plan’. Last but not least: make sure that you are networking. ‘Always. During breakfast, lunch, dinner, in your gym: I don’t care where, but do it!’
Are you interested in TheNextWomen and their upcoming events? Next month, on the 1st of December, there will be another group session in the Startup stories series.