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“Weck die Gründerin in Dir”/ Awaken the Founder within You at deGUT trade fair in Berlin, Germany

At deGUT, the future is female

On October 13-14th in Berlin’s Arena Club, the “deGUT” trade fair gave startups and entrepreneurs a wealth of inspiration, information, and tips for self-employment and running one’s own business. Offering exhibition space, advisor forums, and workshops, deGUT is Germany’s largest trade fair for this innovation sector, providing advice on financing and funding, law and taxes, sales and marketing. It’s a great chance to network and meet mentors.

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Edition F Co-founders, Susann Hoffman (on left ) & Nora-Vanessa Wohlert (in middle) are interviewed by journalist Christina Cassala (on far right)

Edition F

I was lucky to catch an interview with Edition F co-founders, Susann Hoffmann and Nora-Vanessa Wohlert. Their online platform closes the loop between a classical women’s magazine and typically male-focused business titles. Half a million online visitors per month is a testament to the public’s interest in them. Founded in 2014 by two smart women, Edition F serves as an ambassador for deGUT, exemplifying a great idea and execution that requires courage, energy, and passion.

Independence at All Costs

Hoffmann and Wohlert encouraged a path of independence wherever possible. They warned the audience of about 40, predominantly female attendees, to be wary of venture capital who may bring an alternate agenda than yours. For them, private investors who believed in their idea was the right choice. They wanted to decide for themselves whom to meet with, whom to sell to, and what kind of culture they wanted to create. In short, Edition F co-founder’s said perhaps they would not have been so creative had they had access to easier funding.

Network with Confidence

Despite doors that opened for Hoffman and Wohlert by other women they know, they did not find investment solutions there. Rather, they had to build their own network, including Simon Schäfer, CEO of Factory Berlin, and contacts at Pinterest. They stressed what is important is to look from within your network and then get introduced more widely. So build a great network and do not hold back from asking for what you need. Be bold.

Co-founding Tips

Was it always their plan to work together? The co-founders said they shared a rebellious nature, and recommend the following: For co-founding partners, seek out a similar style, mentality, or the way you ‘tick”. This alignment is crucial for open communication and finding a shared pathway. In looking for co-founders, it matters what you are founding. But both your personal and business style need to either match or compliment each other’s. As your company grows, the psychological fit within teams must function well, for example events vs. marketing.

Herstory in the making

It seems, the ‘history’ of Edition F’s founder’s was atypical – most of their workforce was female and mid-thirties. They began with a lot of “Festangestellt”, or proper employees (not freelancers)as well. Starting from a coworking space and respective backgrounds in theater science and publicity, they created a business plan. Hoffmann and Wohlert recommend having an affinity for Excel even if it means learning it on the job.

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Susann Hoffmann and Nora-Vanessa Wohlert from Edition F speaking in Berlin as ambassadors for deGUT

FEMALE FUTURE FORCE

Edition F has also created a remarkable movement called FEMALE FUTURE FORCE. It’s an academy built through successful crowdfunding which is already supported by 5000 active members. Through webinars and organized panels, the curriculum weaves together knowledge of the many stellar personalities and experts that their magazine has featured. The program is dedicated to providing women with a strong digital basis to support their ideas and professional development, as well as creating a vital community. Offering year-round digital coaching, access to interviews, podcasts, videos, worksheets, and questionnaires, the Edition F team promises personal and professional growth to members and commits 10 percent of the proceeds to disadvantaged women.

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VdU representatives at the deGUT trade fair in Berlin

VdU: A Vocal Women’s Association That Changes Policy

While checking out the various booths as deGUT, I met up with Leonie Schmiel. She works at VdU, which was started in 1954 by Kate Ählmann, a pioneering German businesswoman from the steel industry. Ählmann joined forces with 30 other entrepreneurial women to represent their cause, which eventually became the VdU.

In 2012, Angela Merkel said this about the VdU: “I believe that you, as entrepreneurs, are also role models, because women ask themselves: How do they do it, how do they bring everything together? Today’s schoolgirls need such examples with experiences; they need courage to take the step into independence.” - German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel

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VdU’s publication “Unternehmerin” , whose current issue centers on health and German healthcare policy
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Covers from starting up magazine

W20 and WEConnect

A big part of VdU’s work this year was organizing the Woman20 Summit, or W20, in alignment with the G20 Summit which took place here in Germany.

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The deGUT attendees, many of them female, check out reading material near the startup and incubator panel
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deGUT at Arena Berlin, October 13–14, 2017

Reporting from within a Venn diagram of health, tech and empowerment. Berlin-based. Internationally minded.

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