Interview with Diana Florescu, Startupbootcamp’s Global Marketing Manager, about Women in Tech

This December Startup Campus Women interview is with Diana Florescu, an extremely ambitious and strong woman with Romanian origins, currently living in London. Five years ago, when she moved to the UK, she started working with startups and entrepreneurs. She soon decided to ditch the corporate world and run her own company. During her studies, she gained knowledge in digital marketing and did an MSc at UCL about entrepreneurship and how to take your business idea to market. She’s has already been a co-founder and worked in several startups from early-stages to scaleups.

“I joined the first technology startup back in 2015 where I got a flavor of how it is to run a company. Later when I was studying at UCL, I joined a gaming startup and in 2016 I was approached by my first co-founder and established Local Spoon.  After my masters, I decided to join Startupbootcamp. They were looking for a Global Marketing Manager so I took on this challenge!“

You mentioned that you were a co-founder at Local Spoon, could you speak about that a little? What was your ambition?  

“We had the ambition to reimagine the way we discover and experience our world from restaurants to food markets, events and other tasty experiences. We wanted to save and enrich costumers time, elevate their experience and let them use their reviews and pictures online to make fine dining affordable. 

Local Spoon was an exclusive food members club for the digital age where millennials could use their social media influence to unlock unique experiences in return for a membership fee.  We’ve worked with giants such as Taste of London and Celebrity Cruise, and in September partnered with London’s first ever brunch festival. Despite all our success, after some time – due to several factors – I decided it was time to move on. “

 

As you also work with women founders, what would you highlight as their strengths?

“Communication and empathy. This allows them to connect with their stakeholders or investors in a meaningful way, through understanding and acknowledging each person’s unique set of complex needs and emotions. Women tend to have better soft skills then men do and can relate to situations and people easily.

Determination – It’s one thing to have an idea for an enterprise, but as many people reading this will know, making it happen is a very difficult thing and it demands extraordinary energy, self-belief and determination, the courage to risk family and home, and a 24/7 commitment that borders on the obsessive.”

In your opinion do you think that investors take women founders as seriously as they do with men?

“The UK is debunking much of the stigma still surrounding women in tech with a lot more organizations and funds specifically designed to support women and women-founded startups. Gender-equality is imperative for every business; in fact, companies should go beyond gender and look at the whole picture including underrepresented categories of founders such as BAME, founders without a university diploma and of all ages.

Of the women I heard from, many of them who raised capital said they experienced bias—largely on the basis of gender. Sometimes, the source of funding really matters – Venture capital vs Angel investment is a different kettle of fish – and getting in the room with the right investors that truly understand your product is crucial.

Often I found myself walking into rooms of mostly men either fundraising or simply having a business meeting. I thought that my age, the fact that I am a woman would decrease my chances to close a deal. Their reaction did not reflect my fears. They were rather intrigued about the business and my drive to take it to the next level. An experienced investor will not only give you a cash injection but offer to share their expertise. Showcase your commitment. Beyond the financial viability of your product and plan, investors want to see your commitment to the business.”  

At Startupbootcamp in what way do you support diversity?

“Startupbootcamp is one of the largest networks of global accelerators with 21 active programs in 17 cities across the world, including London, Amsterdam, Berlin, San Francisco, Dubai, Miami, Mexico City, Melbourne, Shanghai, and many others. 30% of our startups are female-led – a 7% increase from 2017. Together with OneTech, we launched a new programme by Capital Enterprise and JP Morgan Chase Foundation. We have started reviewing and improving our processes to target different communities to increase the diversity of the companies we work with.”

What do you consider as a great accomplishment in your carrier or as a woman?

“My greatest accomplishment is sitting where I am right now. I believe that life is a constant work-in-progress and that all moments, the great huge ones and the small quiet ones, all make-up who I am.

There’re a few good ones I always look back on and smile: winning the Lloyd’s Banking People’s Choice Award with Local Spoon, pitching in front of big corporates such as Tata, PayPal, and many other ventures, or having other startups and young entrepreneurs simply say thank you for mentoring them.

I’m also proud to be a sounding board for our 20+ global marketing teams at Startupbootcamp defining strategies and the way we communicate them to the world. I have a front seat while innovation truly goes global. Just recently we launched our first FinTech program in Cairo to tackle financial exclusion while in Africa we try to address a water challenge, one of the six UN sustainable development goals.”

If you would need to give an advice to a young woman who is planning to launch her own business, what would it be?

“Don’t be humble!
Women sometimes tend to be too self-conscious; they feel reluctant to speak up or to ask for fear of sounding not so knowledgeable. Approach people whom you think are unreachable and be confident in you. I’ve learned to develop my confidence and overcome my negative self-talk and to own my accomplishments over the years.

When you are young and you’re just starting out being taken seriously is a struggle. I built a support network over time and surrounded myself with people that I can trust and I can ask for help when I need it; and because we already discussed failures, failure also should not be viewed as a negative or an excuse for relinquishing your goals.”

So, all you girls out there should get rid of the fear and trust in yourselves and in what you want to achieve. Believe that you are capable of anything with hard work and the right motivation.

Startups from the V4 region fought in a boxing ring –Startup Campus V4 Global Tour last stop in Budapest

On the 29th of November, the Startup Campus V4 Global Tour had reached its final stop. Within the framework of the Regional Startup and Innovation Day, this year for the fifth time the biggest startup pitch competition Get In the Ring! was organized in Hungary.

In February of 2018 our international program, Startup Campus V4 Global Tour was launched with 10 destinations. This program helped nearly 80 V4 Startup companies to get to know such startup ecosystems as New York, London, Tel-Aviv, Istanbul and so on.

The last stop was organized within the frameworks of Startup and Innovation Day. This evening more than 600 ecosystem players, such as angel/venture capital/ corporate investors, startups, international corporate partners took part. The whole night long program kicked off with the Startup and Innovation Award of Hungary, where four winners were announced in four categories.

After a short and refreshing break, the event continued with the V4 regions hottest pitch competition Get in The Ring! V4 Budapest. Get in the Ring is a Global Pitch Competition that invites founders from over 100 countries to pitch their solutions against their opponents in the ring. Get in the Ring! is different from any other startup pitching competition. Pitching in the ring creates an undeniable competitive electricity which means founders are forced to up their game and give a pitch they are proud of. Each round concentrate on a specific topic thus providing crucial information about the startups and prove to the jury why they are the best investment.

This year’s corporate partner of Get In the Ring! V4 Budapest was Hungary’s largest and renowned lighting electronics manufacturer, named Tungsram (est.1896.). Tungsram’s heritage is Innovation thus they were looking for the V4 regions best Smart City and Agritech startup ideas. During the event, Tungsram revers-pitched its needs to which the best 4 finalist startup pitched their solutions.

“In Collaboration with Tungsram we addressed the V4 regions best startup companies. The aim of the event was to boost and help Tungsrams innovational process by providing the best AgriTech and SmartCIty solutions of the V4 countries. This event also represented the last station of Startup Campus V4 Global Tour. Alongside with our professional partners, V4’s Hungarian presidency, Hiventures, and HEPA we were able to provide the possibility of International validation and introduction to 80 startups in 10 international startup ecosystems.”  – stated Zsolt Kovács, the managing director of Startups Campus and CEO of Enterprise Hungary

On the 28th of November at the Hungarian Head Quarters of Tungsram Group, eleven V4 region semi-finalist startups got to spend a day with the Tungsram board members and mentors from Startup Campus, NEO Trade and Rocket Shepherd. Here they worked on their pitch techniques. Later during the afternoon, the 4 finalists were chosen who the next day stepped into the ring to fight the final battle.

  

On the 29th of November 2018. the grand final took place where the two winners were announced: the Hungarian Gremon Systems – AgriTech category and the Czech Indoorway – SmartCity category. They won the golden ticket to Get In The Ring 2019 Global Final and shortly will be starting a co-operation with Tungsram!

The Jury members were the following: Joerg Bauer the President and CEO of Tungsram, Jakub Miller the CEO of InnoEnergy Central Europe, Bence Katona the Deputy CEO of Hiventures, József Szőke the Head of Customer Value Management at Vodafone and Alex Zhigarev the partner of Speedinvest.

  

The Get In the Ring! V4 Budapest project is co-financed by the Governments of Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia through Visegrad Grants from International Visegrad Fund. The mission of the fund is to advance ideas for sustainable regional cooperation in Central Europe.

Partners: Visegrádi Csoport Magyar Elnöksége, Hiventures, Visegrad Fund, InnoEnergy, Rocket Shepherd, HEPA, Startup Campus

Central and Eastern European startup event in the British capital

The Department for International Trade (DIT) in collaboration with Startup Campus London and New Generation Centre organised the CEE to UK Soft-Landing Tour event on the 22 November 2018. On this occasion, 12 startups and scaleups, as well as the university project manager from the University of Pecs had the opportunity to introduce themselves to key players of the London ecosystem.

In the first part of the programme, industry experts explained to the companies the most important points of the UK market entry. This was followed by a short presentation of Greg Gulyas, the Managing Director of Startup Campus London. He intorduced the company’s Soft-Landing Programme and its aim, which is to enable scaleups that are ready to expand globally, to enter the UK ecosystem successfully by setting up a local entity and building relevant networks and client base in 4 months.

During the rest of the day, representatives from the DIT gave an insight into the various programmes provided by the British government for companies entering the UK market and the determinative trends within the FinTech and MedTech sectors. They also introduced the key innovation hubs of the country such as London, Midlands Engine, Northern Powerhouse and their services for foreign small and medium size enterprises.

The main goal of the evening event was networking. After giving a 2-minute elevator pitch, the representatives greeted the attendees at their stalls, where they had the opportunity to meet local companies and successful entrepreneurs.

„Startup Campus London team was a great help for us in organising this event, especially in finding the right venues and recruiting amazing participants. I hope that together, the DIT’s services to promote investment and the local activities of Startup Campus will enable countless Central and Eastern European startups to enter the UK market in the future.” – Krisztina Gorog, DIT Foreign Direct Investment Director – Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia.

The venue was provided by TechHub London Moorgate, an incubator and a global community of tech entrepreneurs and startups. The organisers wished to provide the participants with a real and tangible experience of what the local ecosystem is like.

Next day PwC experts from the accounting and business development sector held a 2-hour workshop at WeWork Moorgate. They touched upon some of the most important topics such as the criteria of EIS or SEIS and the accelerator programme of PwC.

Participant companies:

ArtConsious – How women benefit from their soft-skills

portraits: Zászlós Mariann

In our next interview, you will get a chance to hear from Luca Jakab, the proud owner of ArtConsious – a London based startup, which is an online marketplace and knowledge hub for art lovers and collectors. She believes that women have the same opportunities as men within the sphere of startups, and if they use the right soft-skills they can become successful CEO’s.

Please Introduce yourself and your startup

I live in London since 2013, and I am a qualified cultural manager. It was my dream for a very long time to create such an online platform that can connect and represent multiple creative artists and venues, and through which modern art and design trends can be interpreted more easily. Currently, I am working on a new project named ArtConsious. It is an online marketplace and knowledge hub through which artists can introduce themselves to an international market. The site concentrates on the Central-Eastern-European region.

What gave you the idea to create this startup? What was the motivation?

The first time I came across online art-trade was in London. I felt that digitalization and online solutions can boost awareness and help the development of (yet) undiscovered markets, such as the Hungarian one. I have previously managed online galleries in London, and ArtConsious will be a more complex version of these.

Were you not scared to start your company all ‘on your own’ as being ‘just a woman’?

I never had a doubt about women not being capable of things that men are… I was raised and educated by the fact that men and women are equal. Within my family, there are several women who are successful and at the same time independent, so it never really occurred to me as a question if I am capable or not. There were some – mostly Hungarian – women who tried to ‘protect’ me from this project, but within the business world of startups, I never needed to face any hardships. Probably if you would ask me about my experiences in catering I would have a completely different opinion.

What type of obstacles did you come across in the beginning? Do you think they would have been easier to fight if you were a man?

I would not say that these obstacles occurred just because of my gender. I see it day by day that other startuppers regardless of their sex, must face the exact same problems as I do. These are mainly because of external factors (the amount of funds you can access, bureaucracy, technical difficulties) and on the other hand the inner doubts (Am I good enough? Is the idea great enough for the market? Is it possible to develop it fast enough?). I would even dare to say that women are in a better situation since they are more likely to ask for help when they need it and they are not scared to speak about their problems. In my opinion, it isolates men and makes it even harder for them to develop, because most of them are not open about these things.

photo: Zászlós Mariann

What do you think, are the positive aspects of a woman being a Startupper?

Based on international surveys we can state that women’s strengths compared to men are the following: women are better at listening and paying attention to others and their problems. Based on my opinion: they tend to collaborate more, they are less competitive, have less preconceptions and are more open to their surroundings, both emotionally and intellectually.

Also, women are more focused on their personal development, just as motivating their surrounding – this is probably coming from the fact that women are the coherent forces of the families. I believe that women who combine these soft skills with a huge amount of willingness, hard work and wish to prove to the world that they can do it, become the most successful business ladies.

Do you know any specific associations who stand for female Startuppers?

In Hungary, I would outline Women Startup Competition. They try to reach out to as many countries as possible in order to boost women startuppers. In the past 5-10 years, in England a whole industry was developed on the basis of this. Here you can find tons of associations, not even speaking about the outstanding coaches, who provide guidance and consulting to women.

Do you think that investors take you as seriously as they do men?

I can’t judge this realistically, but I can surely tell you this: when you are meeting with an investor you can’t think intuitively, as women tend to. In these situations, you need to think about numbers, statistics and market trends. But these are things that anyone can learn, so I would say women have the same chances.

When you are hiring a new team member, do you prefer to engage men or women?

I really could not care less about this, but if I would really need to choose I would prefer to have a mixed team. I know that there are certain industries that underrepresent one or the other sex because of various reasons. In ours (arts) we have a larger number of women. Therefore, I prefer to use the hiring process that I got used to in England: the candidate does not display his/her picture, sex, age, and origin. Like this, the engager is forced to choose the best candidate based on their qualities and not looks and personal characters. The most important for me is the experience of proficiency!

What do you consider as success?

For me success is when we meet our client’s expectations and keep our promises: give them the opportunity to introduce themselves to an international market (mostly the British), build their partnerships and networks and boost their sales.

 

What are your plans for the future?

In the upcoming years, I would like to concentrate on my project and to develop the platform and the business strategies, add features and gain more and more partners. Concerning my personal plans, I would like to have my own family one day. There we will see how I can match being a startupper and a mother, but I am sure I will be able to find a solution, as I did to many other things.

What would your advice be for other women, who would like to launch their own startup? What do you think is the most important thing they should pay attention to?

My advice is not to concentrate on the fact that you are a woman, but to concentrate on your strengths and try to get the best out of them, plus find the right team members who add to your values and complete your ‘weaknesses’ with their strengths

CEE Soft-Landing Tour

The Department for International Trade, in collaboration with Startup Campus London, is now inviting innovative retail-tech and med-tech entrepreneurs from the CEE to join a two-day scoping visit to London on 22 & 23 November 2018.

 

Delegates will get an insight into the UK’s vibrant B2B ecosystem and will have access to first-hand information from industry experts, business advisers, university partners, incubators, accelerators, funding organizations, and potential investors. They will also have the opportunity to introduce their business on stage to a selected audience and to attend a networking reception afterward.

We offer two-nights’ accommodation in London for each participant (1 delegate/company) and free attendance in the programme. Flights and other travel arrangements need to be covered by the delegates.

Should I come?
Ideal delegates will operate in the B2B segment and already have a commercialized “product” and/or funding provided by a VC or angel investor. We look forward to receiving applications from innovative SMEs that specifically target the UK market with their solution or want to go global via the UK.

Topics to be covered during the programme:
– Introducing DIT’s services for overseas businesses
– How to start a business in the UK (company registration, bank account opening, taxes, incentives, investment schemes, funding opportunities, R&D schemes)
– Legal aspects of doing business
– Opportunities in the Northern Powerhouse Region
– Opportunities in London
– Business etiquette / how to negotiate with UK partners successfully
– Meeting CEE businesses already successfully operating in the UK
– Pitching session

How to apply: 
Those who are interested in joining the mission will need to complete the below questionnaire and follow the instructions to apply.

The deadline for application is 28 October 2018.

We launched our newest project called Startup Campus High School

Through this, we aim to reach out to teens between the age of 14 to 18. We believe that to build a strong startup ecosystem in Hungary, we need to create a firm foundation and a creative and young generation which knows what it means to be a startupper and has the right mindset and motivation to start Her/His own startup!  

So, with this goal, we decided to visit a High School each month in Budapest or Debrecen to hold 1/1.5-hour long introduction sessions at each. During these, we introduce the teens to the basics of what they need to know about startups and what it means to participate in the startup ecosystem. 

Our first stop was at Lauder Jave Community High School in Budapest, where three of our colleagues and one startupper from our portfolio startups shared their experiences and answered the student’s great questions. We hope that the further stops of our tour will be as inspiring and useful as this one was.  

Startup Campus BME powered by Hiventures Program has been launched!

At the official kick-off press conference, we announced the start of our new project Startup Campus MBE powered by Hiventures, in cooperation with the Budapest University of Technology and Economics alongside with  Hiventures Venture Capitalist Fund.

Want to know how to create something great just from an idea? Take part in the 5 weeks long training sessions and start your own Startup!

Here you will get the possibility to learn the steps of creating your own company with the guidance of professional mentors and coaches. They will help you create a business and financial plan, plus at the very end of the sessions, you’ll get the possibility to pitch your idea in front of the Investment Board of Hiventures. Be one of the best teams, and win the 9 million HUF investment prize!

For further details and the application, link click here! 

Application deadline: 10. October 2018.

Startup Campus V4 Tour visited Tel Aviv

The Startup Campus V4 Global Tour to Tel Aviv from September 2-6, 2018 was held within the framework of the 2-day DLD Innovation festival (Sept. 5th and 6th). The tour consisted of workshops, B2B meetings, networking, pitching, in addition to historical sightseeing. Four Hungarian and one Polish startup in the field of Life Sciences and MedTech represented the V4 startup ecosystem including Vitrolink, Viola City, Innoria, DiabTrend, and Electron Square.

On the first official day of the tour, the startups visited Google Campus Tel Aviv to learn about the evaluation process of local MedTech investors, then traveled to Jerusalem where they explored the historical sites with the Diplomat for Cultural and Educational Affairs of the Embassy of Hungary in Tel Aviv, attended a networking event organized by the V4 diplomats, and met with OurCrowd Ltd. venture capital firm representative

 

The following day, the startups attended an Axis Corporate special edition of workshops and presentations held at the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv opened by the ambassador of Poland, followed by local innovation leaders from MagnaCarta Communications, OurCrowd Ltd venture partners, Applied Value Group, Bluechain Ventures, Axis Innovation, and the Institute of Venture and Global MBA at TAU who prepared the delegation for working with multinational corporations and doing business in the Israeli startup ecosystem.

The third day was spent at the DLD Innovation Festival, attended by 110 delegations from over 40 countries, over presenting 100 startups, and approximately 4,000 guests. At DLD, the startups participated in B2B meetings, networked, and attended panel discussions on a variety of topics, followed by an evening rooftop networking event at Mindpsace Tel Aviv organized by the V4 missions in order to build knowledge about opportunities between the V4 region and Isreal. The networking event commenced with opening remarks by the Ambassadors of Poland and Slovakia, CEO of Enterprise Hungary, the Federation of the Israeli Chamber of Commerce, and more experts on cooperation prospects between CEE and Israel. 

The startups returned to the second day of the DLD festival for more B2B meetings and networking on the final day of the tour before returning to their respective home countries.

Hungarian Industry 4.0 startups introduced themselves at the annual venture forum in Baden-Württemberg

On the 23rd of July, the delegation of Startup Campus visited the „Industry 4.0 – Startups meet Hidden Champions” investor event, organized by Venture Forum Neckar. We were happy to provide 4 innovative Hungarian startups the chance to convince about 120 visitors, among them mainly investors and decision makers of local SMEs, of their technologies.

Bechtle AG, Germany’s largest independent IT systems integrator and Europe’s leading IT e-commerce provider, was kindly providing space for the conference and exhibition. Representatives from the sponsors Bosch and Sigloch joint the event to discuss the startups’ technologies and explore investment opportunities.

Altogether, 23 startups presented their solutions in form of 8-minute pitches, 90 seconds pitches. The members of the Startup Campus delegation were: Aeriu, the drone-software company for inventory management in big warehouses. AXS Motion System producing wearable technologies for industrial use, combined with an ergonomic evaluation system. Pozi.Tech who digitalize production and supply chain logistics processes by automatic real-time localization of production-related objects, and SFI Engineering who provide modularized automation solutions for car manufactures.

Startup Campus will launch its Industry 4.0 portfolio in September 2018, with a detailed 1-year business development program ensuring conditions for entry to the market and providing support for collaborations with German companies from the industrial sector.

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Ungarische Industrie 4.0 Startups stellten ihre Technologien auf dem jährlichen Venture Forum in Baden-Württemberg vor.

Am 23. Juli besuchte die Delegation des Startup Campus die vom Venture Forum Neckar organisierte Investorenveranstaltung “Industry 4.0 – Startups meet Hidden Champions”. Wir gaben 4 innovativen ungarischen Startups die Chance, über 120 Besucher – darunter vor allem Investoren und Entscheidungsträger lokaler KMU – von ihren Technologien zu überzeugen.

Die Bechtle AG, Deutschlands größter unabhängiger IT-Systemintegrator und Europas führender E-Commerce-Anbieter, stellte freundlicherweise Raum für die Konferenz und die Ausstellung zur Verfügung. Vertreter der Sponsoren Bosch und Sigloch nahmen an der Veranstaltung teil, um die Technologien der Start-ups zu diskutieren und Investitionsmöglichkeiten zu erkunden.

Insgesamt präsentierten 23 Startups ihre Lösungen in Form von 8-Minuten-Pitches, 90-Sekunden-Pitches oder in der Ausstellungshalle. Die Mitglieder der Delegation des Startup Campus waren: Aeriu, das Drohnen-Software-Unternehmen für das Bestandsmanagement in großen Lagern. AXS Motion System produziert am Körper tragbare Technologien für den industriellen Einsatz, kombiniert mit einem ergonomischen Bewertungssystem. Pozi.Tech, die Produktions- und Lieferkettenlogistikprozesse durch automatische Echtzeitlokalisierung von Gütern digitalisieren, und SFI Engineering, die modulare Automatisierungslösungen für Automobilhersteller bereitstellen.

Startup Campus wird im September 2018 sein Industrie 4.0 Portfolio einführen. Ein detailliertes einjähriges Business-Development-Programm sichert die Voraussetzungen für den Marktzugang und unterstützt die Zusammenarbeit mit deutschen Unternehmen aus der Industrie 4.0.

 

Industrie 4.0 Startups Meet Hidden Champions Selection Day

On June 26th, 2018, the “Industrie 4.0 Startups Meet Hidden Champions Selection Day” was held at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. At the joint event of Startup Campus, which specializes in the international launch of innovative enterprises, and the Venture Forum Neckar investor group in Baden- Württemberg, the international large business segment was represented by General Electric Digital, and the domestic medium-sized company was represented by the Tungsram Group.

The aim of the “Industrie 4.0 Startups Meet Hidden Champions Selection Day” was to support the digital transformation of German small and medium-sized companies, which are the backbone of Germany. For this reason, SMEs seek worldwide innovations of the Industry 4.0 that will ensure the competitiveness of the SME sector in Germany.

Guests were welcomed by Dr. László György, State Secretary for Economic Strategy and Regulation from the Ministry of Innovation and Technology. The audience then listened to speeches by Dr. Stefan Reineck, Chairman of the Venture Forum Neckar Investor Group, and Thomas Schulz, the Central Eastern European Network Manager of GE Digital.

The lineup of speakers continued with László Kovács, head of the BME I 4.0 Technological Center, and concluded with Joerg Bauer, CEO of the Tungsram Group, who gave a first-hand presentation on the digitalisation challenges faced by a medium-sized company.

The Startup Campus Industry 4.0 startup portfolio, including Aeriu, Haris Engineering, SFI engineering, Pozi.tech and AXS motion system also introduced their ideas at the event.

All five of the startup teams were then invited to participate in the investor forum in Heilbronn on July 24th, 2018.

Following the event, Zoltán Galla, head of the Startup Campus Berlin program, stated, “We believe, that Hungarian innovative startups will be able to promote cooperation with the capital-strong German SME sector based on long-term partnerships, professionally prepared and with industry focus.

More pictures about the event here.