Friday, April 19, 2019

Size and networking matter for female founders - DW (English)

Size and networking matter for female founders - DW (English)


Size and networking matter for female founders - DW (English)

Posted: 17 Apr 2019 11:44 PM PDT

It was a pivotal moment for Maria Mattsson Mähl. She sat on a panel in the Swedish city of Visby and was supposed to talk about her experience as an entrepreneur. It was in the summer of 2017, when several politicians, businesspeople and media representatives sat together for a panel discussion organized by the "Alemedalen Week" — a prestigious annual networking event in Sweden named after the eponymous public park.

But Mattsson Mähl felt very much alone because during the discussion she was confronted with figures she couldn't believe. Apparently, there were only 17 Swedish companies with a turnover of more than 50 million Swedish kronor ($5.42 million, €4.79 million) founded by women.

The birth of the 17 Network 

"I could not believe it," she told DW in an interview. "Together with another female entrepreneur, I soon started a shoutout. We wanted to identify more companies that had female founders or majority owners and also had a minimum turnover of 50 million kronor."

In just a few weeks, the two entrepreneurs launched the Swedish women's network "17 Nätverket" ("The 17 Network"), an ironic reference to the fact that there were allegedly so few female founders and entrepreneurs in Sweden.

Within a year, 17 Nätverket identified over 45 companies either founded by women or with female majority stakeholders, and revenues above 50 million kronor. Since then, the number of companies that fit those criteria has grown to more than 50%.

"We want to inspire other female entrepreneurs to dream big and build larger companies," the 44-year old says about the network's goal. She believes size is a measure of success because it ensures sustainable business and stability. Mattsson Mähl also stresses how much easier it is for a larger company to establish a functioning IT infrastructure.

Maria Mattsson Mähl is a successful Swedish businesswoman who founded the company AlphaCE

Maria Mattsson Mähl's company, AlphaCE, provides coaching to the long-term unemployed. With annual revenue of 300 million kronor in 2017, the company stands out among female-founded firms 

As for her own company, she is aiming to boost revenue to one billion kronor within the next five years. The company's main money spinner is education programs which she wants to develop further and also sell in markets outside of Sweden.

Creating another SAP 

The startup of Melanie Stütz is rather small compared with that of her Swedish fellow founder. Her aspirations are nevertheless big. "We need a second SAP in Germany, a global company in the software field. Why haven't we managed to achieve that yet?" Stütz wonders.

She and her husband Andreas run IDEASCANNER — a company that uses artificial intelligence to evaluate business ideas with the help of an algorithm. The software allows startups to test their business ideas or develop entirely new ones.

"Of course, in principle, any idea has a chance if it finds a customer. But if an idea earns a score of more than 70 points, it has the potential to become a really big idea like Google and the likes," Stütz is convinced. But her company offers more than data analysis because it also provides workshops to help companies develop their ideas.

IDEASCANNER is based in Munich and has its own experts and partners, among them the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). But the location of the business doesn't really matter, Stütz stresses, because operations could be run from anywhere in the world, as long as there is appropriate access to the internet.

Melanie Stütz, co-founder of startup IDEASCANNER, which is a software to check the viability of business ideas and plans

Melanie Stütz's startup IDEASCANNER allows would-be business founders to check their plans against commercial viability. The process takes only 10 to 15 minutes, providing customers with a score and feedback about how to improve their plans. A detailed analysis follows in a second phase

The company's software is continually exploring new trends in the business world, looking for even weird ones like why there's no foot heating in cars while seat heating already exists. "Perhaps an idea for automotive suppliers," Stütz quips in a reference to the latest finding of her IDEASCANNER software. 

The power of networks

IDEASCANNER aims to "democratize knowledge," and just like her Swedish counterpart, Stütz believes in the power of networking. "Exchanging ideas and being an example for others, that's important," she says, adding that, of course, this must go along with a willingness to take risks and hard work.

Read more: Female IT startup founders disadvantaged — really?

For Stütz, private life and business plans often intermingle. So it was during 18 months of leisure travel across five continents in a gyrocopter when the IDEASCANNER software was born. Intended to fulfill a long-held dream with her husband Andreas, the trip finally created first designs for the software with which they originally wanted to evaluate their own business ideas.

Founding a business of her own was always a priority for Stütz as she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather who sold desalination plants to Dubai. His entrepreneurial spirit continues to live on in her family as much as her grandfather's sales business.

But Stütz is also optimistic about other female founders and those who strive to be one. She's convinced there's no lack of business ideas, adding: "You don't necessarily have to have money to realize your dreams."

Mont Alto LaunchBox offering workshop to help kick-start business ideas - Penn State News

Posted: 17 Apr 2019 11:49 AM PDT

MONT ALTO, Pa. ― The Mont Alto LaunchBox will offer a free workshop for aspiring entrepreneurs from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, at 40 North Second St. in Chambersburg. "So, you have an idea for a business. Now what?" will be presented by Kathyrn Gratton, SCORE Four State Chapter chair, Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro executive director, and a certified small business mentor. The workshop is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to register at montalto.psu.edu/launchbox/workshops.

"Stepping out as your own boss can be overwhelming," said Gratton. "There are lots of resources available to help create a business but what isn't often provided is how to prepare oneself."

The workshop will help individuals understand what it means to become an entrepreneur and how to get set up for success. It also will address the importance of building a support system and preparing friends and family on how they can be involved, according to Gratton.

For SCORE, Gratton mentors business owners locally and nationally and teaches marketing courses. In addition, she consults through her online moniker "Red Lips Mentor" at instagram.com/kathyrn_gratton

"Through my red lips mentor brand, I've worked with dozens of entrepreneurs to help them build a stronger marketing and social media presence," she said.

Gratton holds her associate and bachelor's degrees in business administration from Kaplan University.

The Mont Alto LaunchBox is one of 21 innovation hubs across the Commonwealth offering free services to entrepreneurs. For more information or to register for LaunchBox workshops and services, go to montalto.psu.edu/launchbox.

Questions can be directed to Debra Collins, director of public relations and marketing, at dlc43@psu.edu  or 717-749-6112.

  • Kathyrn Gratton, SCORE Chapter Chair

    Kathyrn Gratton, SCORE Four State Chapter Chair

    IMAGE: Penn State

Last Updated April 17, 2019

WIU students present business ideas - Western Courier

Posted: 15 Apr 2019 10:13 AM PDT

Steven Barnum, News editor

The Illinois Small Business Development Center organized a competition that allowed aspiring entrepreneurs to present their business ideas.

Noah Postin hosted the event, which took place last Thursday in Stipes Hall. Postin is a grad assistant in the business department at Western Illinois University. The pitch competition featured eight students from Western who each had five minutes to present their ideas and an additional five minutes to field questions about their plan.

At the end of the competition, a panel of five judges chose the three strongest participants.

In addition to providing consulting advice so that businesses can start with a stable foundation, they also awarded cash prizes to the top three finishers in the pitch competition. The winner received $1,000, the runner-up contestant received $750 and the third place finisher received $500. Makenzie Harris went home with third place and she was gladto compete.

"Being on stage and having everyone hear my very own business idea made everything so worth it," Harris said. "I am so happy that I had this opportunity and I would go through the whole process over again."

Harris pitched an idea focused on organic juice that stemmed from watching the show "Ancient Aliens." She enjoyed the show's dialogue about space and thought that space and food should correlate. Harris worked on developing her idea and writing the script foreight weeks.

"My preparation for the pitch was a bit stressful at times," Harris said. "I can be a perfectionist, but all in all, it was a very fun and exciting experience to get the chance to challenge myself and use my creativity. Winning third place was so unexpected. I was shocked that they even called my name."

In the weeks leading up to the competition, organizers gave the contestants lessons on how to pitch ideas so that they could be prepared in front of the judges. This was the first annual event for Western, but Sean West won Macomb's pitch competition in 2018. West was one of the judges during Thursday's competition, alongside Theresa Mangieri, Ken Springer, Anthony Ricco and Lauren Merrit.

The judges selected Elijah Richardson, who presented an idea for a multi-sport complex, as the winner of the competition. Bryce Palmer finished second after pitching an idea for a production company. In no particular order, the other contestants are listed as follows: Alexis Joyner, Zach Glisan, Alexander Whitehurst, Emmanuel Sanchez andTawanda Mberikwazvo.

Casey's and Walmart helped sponsor the event by providing door prizes for members of the audience. Postin thanked Jim Boyd, Diana Blue and Grace Ibirogba for their help with organizingthe competition.

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