Women in Business: ITMO Organized Startup Weekend for Female Entrepreneurs

ITMO University assists its` students to develop their business ideas! Thus it organized Startup Weekend for female entrepreneurs. During three days young startupers visited workshops headed by skilled business ladies and communicated with their mentors who gave them useful advices.

Unlike typical accelerator programs and hackathons aimed at development high-tech business projects, such as hardware startups and VR-projects, this program initiated by Project Management and Innovation Department supports active young women who develop their business projects in different fields.

Startup Weekend started with a roundtable meeting at which successful female entrepreneurs shared how to run a business in women own way. According to Marina Sedova-Bakhenskaya, CEO of Educational and Consulting Center “Uspekh”(success), there are several career fields popular with women.

“Usually women deal with those fields in which they are versed. I mean service area, education, social area, fashion and beauty care,” said Ms. Sedova-Bakhenskaya. “Speaking of strong points of women, I would underline the ability to be flexible. Furthermore unlike men who get used to dealing with many issues, we usually go deep into details, carefully reflect on all decisions and predict risks. Thus on the one hand, it is more difficult for us to make strategies but on the other hand, we don`t miss anything.”

However developing business in well-known fields women often lose an opportunity to succeed in other ones. As Anna Velcheva, project executive of Transfer Technology Center “Formula Telecom,” noted, only one per cent of women head industrial-oriented startups. It is connected with different requirements for networking: it is not easy for women to communicate in the parlance of financial investment. Presenting their business plans they usually focus on problems that need to be solved instead of profit margin, sales volume, profit on each customer and so forth.

Natalia Podgoretskaya, head of THEFACESHOP company, Mailigen e-mail marketing platform and business communication agency DIRECT, advised young entrepreneurs to run their business even if they want to do this. It is a wrong way to launch something even to prove that they are better, smarter and stronger than men.

The participants presented various ideas for startups, nine of them entered the final. Thus entrepreneurs suggested such ideas as online service for wedding planning, application for hiring promoters, co-working for handmade activities, educational center for future parents, kids clothing brand, manufacturing of eco-friendly yarn, pastry shop, and producing of costume jewelry developed using innovative color laser metal marking. The mentors gave participants advices how to develop their own business and awarded them with certificates that cover costs for developing their corporate identities.

“We launched this project because wanted to support not only innovative projects, but also students` entrepreneurial ideas connected with different fields. It particularly important for women who are interested in social-oriented projects more than in developing software or hardware ones. However they are not actively involved even in innovative startups. Most of women are afraid to share their ideas until it is completed. However accelerators were organized exactly for those who are going to launch their own business. This activity was aimed at developing friendly environment for women and creating a community, which is always ready to help,” said Ekaterina Egoshina, head of Marketing Department. 

It is also planned to initiate one more Startup Weekend, which will take place on April 15-17. The experts will assist students to develop their ideas connected with restaurant business, food technologies and producing of special equipment. 

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