FEM-START Up Awards: Women who dare

FEM-START Up Awards: Women who dare

Written by Paola Hasbun

Watching women come together with a collective intention is a powerful experience. I went to the FS not knowing what to expect, and not knowing that I would leave feeling extremely inspired. The room was full of excited women entrepreneurs ready to make a difference and share their ideas; ready to pitch. How do you summarize your idea, added value, and years of hard work in 3 minutes?

 

Barbara Rogoski has the answer to this question. She can teach you how to show investors and the jury what they are looking for: a visionary, confident speaker who believes in her idea and clearly describes how it can improve the world. And that’s exactly what we saw next! 9 powerful female founders who dared to make a difference and create scalable, sustainable companies with positive social impact. They want to make things better for everyone: create plastic-free skincare, extend clothing’s lifecycle, and recycle and re-use human hair. Their focus is on creating more inclusive workplaces and societies, reducing burn-out rates by measuring performance differently, and supporting each other through a mentoring platform. These female entrepreneurs want to eradicate allergies in children, democratize digital innovation, and bring online dating offline to increase connection in a world that is losing its essence behind screens and computers. These are women who dare. They share a passion to make a difference, to not accept the status quo, a passion for making societies better.

 

As I sat there, waiting for Joachim Goyvaerts -Director of Paypal- to announce the winner, I realized they’ve all won. They stood up against the odds, they crossed the many barriers that women face when starting a business, and they made it happen. Getting funding is one of the most crucial parts of setting up a business, and unfortunately, women have way less access to funding than their male counterparts. When women become entrepreneurs, they make their families, their communities, and entire societies flourish. Why are we then not giving more funding to women-founded companies? Fortunately, Marian Spier and Sandra van der Pal created FEM-START to close the funding gap for female entrepreneurs and launched an educational module for women on how to raise funding.  Yes, because they also dared. They are making a difference.

 

The journey of entrepreneurship is not easy- that’s for sure. A 3-minute pitch does not reflect all the hard work behind the idea, or the effort put in setting up a start-up and getting your first customers -it certainly doesn’t. But one thing is for sure: you are not alone in the process. FEM-START is here to support you. There is a whole community of entrepreneurs and businesswomen who are willing to walk the journey with you, advise you, and support you to make it to the top. Because when women support each other and come together, the whole village flourishes. So what will you dare next?

Mentor spotlight: Mascha Mooy

Mentor spotlight: Mascha Mooy

Mascha Mooy is a consultant, speaker and author. With a no-nonsense mentality she tackles problems at the core. Her specializations are burn-outs, leadership and successful entrepreneurship. All of these strengths come together in her business Bye Bye Burnout.

About Mascha

In earlier career Mascha experienced a burnout herself, when unfortunately no structured help was available to get back fast on track. She saw the topic of burnout was becoming a challenge for entrepreneurs, corporations and employees, and also an opportunity as an entrepreneur. With her research and new knowledge she created unique solutions for all parties; not just focusing on the structured recovery and integration, but also on prevention.

Bye Bye Burnout has grown under her leadership into a revolutionary and “controversial” burnout prevention organisation in the Netherlands, serving as key adviser for the “SME’s in the Netherlands” and helping organizations with 50-700 employees everywhere in the country. She is frequently invited as a speaker on the subject at events and in-company workshops.

Mascha is also a proud winner of the Piper Heidsieck Leading Ladies Award 2018, Top 40 under 40, Top 25 most creative Dutch entrepreneurs and known as a woman who knows her walk & talk. Her entrepreneurial vision is one of a kind combined with a daring & disruptive mindset, which she passionately loves sharing with other women. Besides that, the documentary that Mascha was featured in as an entrepreneur for the Dutch tv NPO/PowNed was a true achievement. In 2020 her first managementboek was a huge success. It explains burnout and work related stress and how employers can tackle this.

 

What have you learned in your entrepreneurial career?

Anything is possible. Don’t let anybody tell you that something isn’t possible!

 

What is one thing you still really want to do in your entrepreneurial career?

To become a teacher / lecturer in my field of expertise at Stanford University in the USA.

 

Looking back, what is one thing you would do different?

I would start with online courses and social media a little earlier. I missed the boat with online courses.

 

What would you advise women starting their journeys in the entrepreneurial space?

Be true to your own core values and quirkiness. I am loud, hysterical and out there in a market where everybody is enjoying yoga and mindfulness. I hate that, but I am the black sheep in the burnout community. Luckily, you don’t see the dirt on black sheep but on the white ones instead 😉 Because I do everything my way, I have the right fans and costumers.

 

What is the reason you joined FEMpreneurhulp?

Basically to share my knowledge, and I support Marian in her work.

 

What are common challenges women face in the startup world and how can we tackle them according to you?

Not being taken seriously. Prove them wrong! I experienced this myself and look at me now 🙂 I am still the only one that made it to Silicon Valley, no Dutch man in my field of expertise was able to!

Battling a burnout

Battling a burnout

Written by: Mascha Mooy

A burnout. What is it? Why do we get burned out? Why is it meaningful? And most important: What can we do to overcome one?

We get burned out when we ask too much of ourselves for too long. You can see it as coming to a complete standstill. You have trouble with decision-making, and with managing tasks and responsibilities. The simplest tasks have become impossible.

Let me give you an example. When you go to work, you probably want to give it your best. You do this the same in your social life, you work your butt off in the gym, and in the evening you are of course the world’s best mom or dad there is. You’re living larger than life, loving the adrenalin and everything else that belongs to this fab lifestyle.

But what if one day you wake up and you think: “the hell with it all, I am going to have an indoor-day” (and by indoor-day I mean: “I am going to stay in bed for the rest of the day”). It’s no problem at all to have one of these, but having multiple indoor-days isn’t a very good sign. In fact, it’s a sign that you might have a (small) burnout and surely you don’t need that, do you? You simply don’t have the time! This might mean you have a burnout.

Overcoming a burnout

So, the big bad burnout monster is here and it’s here to stay. Now what? It’s all pretty simple. The most important thing you should do is eat, live, sleep, work and play on a regular basis. Pretty boring, some might say, but it’s the only way to recovery. Going on like nothing’s the matter is not recommended, because your symptoms will only worsen. So stop living in the fast lane and take things back to the basics. Put you at the top of your priority list.

The first thing to do is to try and be nice to yourself. Eat healthy and go out for a simple walk in the park. Walk with your head straight up and look at the horizon. Do this every other day for 30 minutes! Go to your GP and focus on you! Working is not an option right now. You have to be good to yourself and take it easy.

The next tip is going to the gym. Don’t work out like you´re preparing for some competition. Your body needs more recovery time now than ever. So, workout like your grandmother. Easy does it! Don’t care about what anybody else thinks. This is your journey, not theirs.

You can ask a personal trainer for assistance or a workout plan, but focus on relaxation. Now is not the time for “no pain, no gain”. Don’t rush it. Drink plenty of water and quit those energy drinks to boost your metabolism or whatever the marketing slogan is. Focus on healthy foods. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

During a burnout your body is trying to recover, but it’s very difficult so don’t force anything. Take all the time you need to recover. Try to enjoy the little things and if your complaints get any worse, don’t ignore it – your body is trying to tell you something. You only have one body, so be good to it.

Look on the bright side

Sometimes you might think that a burnout is a lonely trip, and you’re absolutely right. But remember one thing: it’s the most valuable journey you can ever make. It’s absolutely not the nicest or the easiest, but it sure is the most valuable one. A burnout is the ultimate way to get to know yourself, to get to know your boundaries. But also to get to know who you really are, what you want in life, to learn how to recognize, feel and cluster your emotions. So even if you have the nasty experience of a burnout, just remember that there’s a silver lining!

It’s easy to work longer hours and take fewer breaks when working from home. Why not put a reminder in your diary when you plan to finish working? Also make sure you take at least a 30-minute lunch break. If you can, try to get some fresh air and go for a short walk.

Listen to your heart and body and, every now and then, release your brains and set them on “energy-saving” mode.

 

Mentor spotlight: Joyce Oomen-Beeris, founder of Pimcy.

Mentor spotlight: Joyce Oomen-Beeris, founder of Pimcy.

Pimcy Innovation & Portfolio management in Tilburg helps organize innovation and embed innovation in services, products, or business models. The result is an acceleration of innovation, increased innovative capability, and motivated employees. We cover the entire innovation management domain: idea management, innovation portfolio management, and life cycle management.

What is your story, and what led you to join the entrepreneurial world?
I have a career in product management and product development. After I did my master’s in Implementation & Change management, I concluded that I could not apply that knowledge in my current job. I always had a dream of starting my own business, and 5 years ago, I did.

What have you learned in your entrepreneurial career?
For the past 5 years, I have learned more than in the previous 18 years working for various companies. This is because you constantly encounter new challenges and see new things that you want to learn to provide customers with the best possible services.
I also have learned that what sometimes looks like a great idea can turn out to be something that does not work or does not make you happy. I have learned to say goodbye to things or even persons that are ‘energy drainers.’ 

What is one thing you still really want to do in your entrepreneurial career?
I want to expand further the innovation software consultation that we already offer. I think we really are distinguishing in that domain and have a great added value for the companies that hire us.

Looking back, what is one thing you would do differently in your career?
I stepped into a software opportunity as a side business. I still would have done it because I learned so much, only I would have stopped the initiative earlier on.

What would you advise women to start their journeys in the entrepreneurial space?
Women tend to do things only when they are 100% sure. My advice would be to trust your gut feeling more: if you think you can do it, you probably can. Don’t make yourself too small and humble when you are selling yourself. Women should learn to demonstrate more self-confidence.

What is the reason you joined FEMpreneurhulp?
Due to the Corona crisis, many companies have to pivot to other business models to survive. I want to contribute to that survival.

What are common challenges women face in the startup world, and how can we tackle them, according to you?
I think it has to do with my previous advice: know your worth, demonstrate self-confidence, and don’t show if you feel a bit overwhelmed.

Anything else you would like to share?
I really like FEMpreneurhulp as women are helping other women. I have often seen that women think other women are less capable than men or should not try to stand out in my career. In this way, we are our own barriers in advancing in business.

Find Joyce on www.pimcy.nl and https://www.linkedin.com/in/innovation-accelerator/

Meet Joachim Goyvaerts: Director of Benelux and Ireland PayPal

Meet Joachim Goyvaerts: Director of Benelux and Ireland PayPal

Joachim Goyvaerts, the director of PayPal Benelux and Ireland, talks about the power of digital transformation, the benefits of building networks, and PayPal’s new partnership with FEM-START. 

What was your journey leading up to being the Director of Benelux and Ireland at PayPal?

I have always found myself at the intersection of customer-centricity and technology; I have a degree in marketing management, but analytics interested me. I started my business consulting career: I helped businesses flip a product from internal orientation to customer orientation. Unwittingly, I entered the area/field of payments, and as of today, I have been working in it for the past 15 years. I was the first person to be hired at PayPal Belgium six years ago and helped them establish themselves in this region. Throughout the years at PayPal, I have been in different roles: from developing strategies for partners to leading the Benelux and Ireland region. 

What were the greatest challenges you faced as a Director?

At PayPal, there is no lack of opportunities. The challenge lies in smartly using limited available resources by focusing on the most important things. PayPal now doubles down on cryptocurrencies as we see a more stable regulatory environment and customer relevance. More recently, at the onset of COVID-19, I had to rebuild the team’s culture and keep that culture alive throughout the global crisis. That has been a big challenge, but it also energizes me the most. Customer orientation is important, but that gets done through the team, of course. 

How did you maintain the culture through COVID-19 times?

I have great internal allies who help me organize things for the team. With COVID-19, we miss out on the informal interactions, so it is important to structure them and make them more intense. PayPal really cares about its employees. We constantly check in on them; ask them if they are in hardship, or continue to work, etcetera. People need to take the time they need to get the basics right first. Otherwise, there is no way to perform sustainably over time.  

Shifting gears now: over the past few years, we have witnessed a growing interest in businesses going digital, especially in the past year. How important do you think it is for businesses to adopt this new “trend”?

I don’t think we can think in terms of a “trend” anymore, it is important, but it is also a necessity. If you set up a business now, being digital helps you ensure continuity in all your processes. It is your lifeline today. The advantage of digital is that you can scale it. If you are starting a company, you need to think about scaling and think big. Having digital technology from the start facilitates faster scaling. 

So, it is a must! 

Yes, it is. Another advantage is that it makes things simpler, as well. It is essential to offer a straightforward solution to your customers and give them the possibility to contact you easily, digitally. If you think about customer service, for instance, phone calls or even e-mails are not so effective anymore, it is easier to have a chat available. Digitalization also helps to focus on sales, e-commerce, among other things. 

It does! FEM-START is an ED-Tech solution to close the funding gap for female entrepreneurs. We are grateful and excited about this partnership between FEM-START and PayPal. What is your vision for this alliance?

First, it is important to understand the nature and the identity of PayPal as a company. We give people access to their money through technology. We believe it is a way to achieve more equality and inclusion by making the management and movement of money more accessible, secure, and affordable. More people have access to economic opportunities. Another core value of PayPal is innovation, and we have an entrepreneurial nature, so we encourage people to start their business. 

Based on these core values, a collaboration with an initiative such as FEM-START seems natural! There are still many challenges for women to combine different roles. They often have more difficulties accessing funding, so we really need to watch out and ensure that digitalization does not increase inequality. We are also supporting women internally at PayPal. We have active programs to promote female leadership and diverse leadership. It is what we live and breathes as a company, so we have knowledge and networks to share. 

Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest in female entrepreneurship? What are the advantages for investors and the community as a whole?

If you are trying to solve a problem, you would ask someone: would you leave out 50% or more of the potential? Of course not! By promoting female entrepreneurship, we are also tapping into creativity, sustainable results, and creating a society with a healthy bandwidth of equality and inequality. If half of the people are not participating, it is too unequal. Fundamentally, we should aim to have a healthy ecosystem that offers sufficiently equal opportunities, and that is, in the end, what produces the best results. Female entrepreneurship clearly has a big gap, even in The Netherlands, where many women work part-time when they become mothers. 

Besides motherhood, what do you think contributes to this gap?

Networking plays a crucial role, having informal connections. It is key, and many people who have access to a strong network are not even aware of it. For example, many men from these business networks inadvertently exclude women. They seem to be unaware that this creates exclusion. Furthermore, with the lockdown, there is also a risk of missing out on opportunities because, in a way, people who do not have a strong network suffer more. This also goes for mental health. People who are alone are having a harder time. It might mean that some things need to be reset. Some networks do not exist anymore, which creates an opportunity for building new ones. Again, it is crucial to give women access to these newly formed networks, as well. 

How can we bring more men on board to include female entrepreneurs? 

I think the first step is awareness. If men become aware, they can make simple actions to change this, also in digital networks. Another action is to promote women and not see it as a threat, because it is not. If companies and stakeholders in society stand up and speak about these issues, we can address them. But it starts with what you can do as an individual because, in the end, it is the people and leaders within companies who are assigning budgets, assigning people, setting up a structure, focusing on diversity, and so on. As an individual, you can have a huge impact. It takes time, it takes precise focus, but once it takes off, it can become really big, which changes the network. As an individual node, you can influence the whole network. 

Generally, women face difficulty when looking for investors for their businesses. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs that want to raise funds?

I would say think big and bold; it is what investors are looking for. Compared to 10 years ago, there is a lot of capital available, and there are really many great ideas. The supply and demand are at a whole different level, so show that you can be that next big company, but you need to demonstrate how you will generate revenue. How will you get cash and make money out of your idea? I would suggest showing mastery in how to get paid. Many companies do not think this through, and thinking about this deeply builds trust and shows that you are a solid team. If you address this dimension of numbers and finance, you build extra trust in your leadership quality, and it helps get not only funds and investments but also helps your business. 

How do you think start-ups can be helped to go to the next level financially?

As we discussed, if you build your company and use a digital backbone, you are ready to scale. I see many companies struggling with the scaling, and the excellent startups have thought this through, and they have the flexibility to test a lot, especially in different locations. Also, I would say think about geographically scaling. I have seen too many companies starting in one market and planning to expand in the next 2-3 years. I think that by doing this, you inhibit yourself from learning. It is better to learn sooner by testing the different markets simultaneously. Accessing a different market challenges your own perspective. It is a different culture. 

The second thing is to define KPIs which in the future will generate cash and revenue. You do not need to be profitable from the start, but you need to know your key indicator that will lead to that profitable and healthy position. We see all social media platforms not making money at first but gaining users because they know that they will monetize on that in step two.

That is great advice. Thank you, Joachim.

You are welcome! I am really excited to see how FEM-START will create this energy and network of female entrepreneurs. That is why I have been advocating to support this! 

By Azaina Shaikh and Paola Hasbun