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Startup Women Forum: results

09/04/2011

After my visit to “Women 2.0” in the Valley I thought, why shouldn’t we arrange something like that in our country.  SoI talked to Maria Kosenkova : always wanted to work with her on some  joint project.  Dictum – factum. The first  Startup Women Forum was conducted in April 2011. We didn’t suppose to have a conference,  and the idea of the procedure was like that:  series of workshops at once, contest, projects selection, project development. Let’s say, a sort of a virtual incubator. However, after a while we understood that we did everything right.  There is a lack of communication in our country. I don’t mean parochial snobbish conversations, but talks on business and with people who have real stories of success.

I’m very glad that “star speakers” attended the event. It seems to me, we gathered real cases and practitioners’ pieces of advice. We’re very grateful to them. It is perfect that there was interaction with the audience. We’ve got lots of positive feedback from many people saying that the conference was very clear and practical.  That’s what we strived for.

The whole programme followed the plan, such as:  one’s brief bio, own example of a start-up, was it successful or not, and why; the project story; answering the questions of the audience. During the first session I asked who the participants were, and it turned out that many of them resigned their positions in large companies and decided to start their own business.

We were just discussing that in the country where a large proportion of the population is female and where the big business is runmostly by men, the fact that small and medium businesses are started and run by women is quite justified. Moreover, it’s more logical to do business on the Internet because of low entry barrier and project dependence on the team. And  HR is mostly for women, the percentage of intuitive decision making is high, like “to do or not to do; to trust or not to trust”.  Also one should consider the fact that the female audience of the Web is increasing. This means that end consumers often turn to be women.

Of course, start-ups topic is not about sexism and not about “who’s better or who’s worse”.  Franchising andfurther development depend on the ability to sell the project properly, so more women work in the sales field and in the communications area.  As Anna Znamenskaya said yesterday: “Women are good ‘doers’”

Topics we discussed:

  • how to start your own project;  fails and success;
  • why the Internet;
  • where to find a team and the criteria of staff selection;
  • on what stage the investor should be involved;
  • should you believe in myth that starting your own internet project and not working for a large company you have more time for the family., etc.

The same topics of ordinary start-uppers’ meetings, but only with female audience.

On the Forum we asked to inform us about desired topics and projects, what people needed. Thus, we found the new idea which will be implemented  within Startup Women Club. It’s the intensive English course – Start-ups and Innovations – it will be carried out in small groups, the delivery of information will be ludic. Besides, the price will be more than affordable, only 5000 roubles for 12 classes.

Now we’re planning  a set of workshops sessions,  such as:  start-ups law aspects, online accounting, SMM, etc.

Besides, one of the most important results of the Forum we consider the statement of Julia Scheglova (Microsoft), that all the Startup Women projects will be considered   for participation in the programme for start-ups Microsoft Biz Spark and for being financed within the Microsoft Seed Investment Fund.

Successful cases and active discussions were looked at within the “Investors vs. Start-ups” session.  Elena Masolova regards the situation from  an investor’s and star-upper’s perspectives; Taya Kudashkina, who went to the Valley to search money for tulp.ru  andfinally got $3 million from a Russian investor; Lyubov Simonova,  who later wrote a material about the principles of dealing with investors; Tatiana Tsvetkova (Fast Line)told how to create a project for 50 days.

My personal initiative:  during our business conversations I wanted to touch some important social topics. Thus, almost in the last moment, the session concerning social entrepreneurship and charity Internet projects appeared.

I was inspired by the speech of Elena Ischeeva about  banki.ru and teamwork skills. Moreover , skills of working in the family team on the closed market.

Excellent and very dynamic session: How to start your own project.  Sonya Sokolova spoke on zvuki.ru, how they fell losing the client base in 2008 and rose again; Maria Chernitskayaspoke on business logic and Anna Znamenskaya on monetization and  teams.

During all these days they asked us about staff for projects, i.e. whom, where and how to find; whether it is necessary to have an HR manager in start-up; credit of trust the staff. AlenaVladimirskaya was very passionate in her speech: “You don’t need an HR, you’re  by yourselves are gospellers  of your project. And people should come to you because  of their desire to work with us”

Anna Chebotareva talked about cases, Renata Akhunova spoke on the topic of being owner of the project without being its chief executive.

Thanks to Maxim Spiridonov and Mikhail Zonenashvili who were so brave to  come to women’s Forum.

Our foreign experts – Tatyana Kanzaveli, Sarah Granger, Tom Marcus,Brooke Moreland – were very impressed by Russian IT-women stories, audience activeness,  andby the fact that networking  works well in Russia.

For example, within the Investments session which was lead perfectly by Darya Batukhtina,  Brooke Moreland talked the story of her project creating, difficulties she faced, her first million from investors and the terms of it. Dasha decided the section should be interactive, that’s why an elevator pitch was played with the following discussion of common mistakes.   Maria Shvetsova explained the criteria of  team and project selection, told that investors’ money was the most expensive and encouraged to create start-ups  with own money.

I can speak about the Forum for ages. Figures and our  new initiatives will be on the Web in the nearest days. The main thing – We did it!

Maria Kosenkova, well done! Speak by the interest and reactions of our partners, foreign colleagues and the audience, this initiative was extremely necessary and useful.

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