Thank you to our fantastic speakers and to the great team at ThoughtWorks who provided the amazing food and event space.
Selling out a few hours before it started, it kicked off with the highly anticipated Q&A panel discussion on raising funding with Chloe Barrett (@DigidentistryCB), founder, DigiDentistry and Heather Waters (@heatherwaters15), Strategic Lead Growth Business Support, NatWest.
The Q&A was ably compered by Natalie Jameson (@njco2design), founder and CEO of The Heroworx Institute – her background in corporate finance (mergers and acquisitions) proved immensely useful in the dialogue between bank, startup founder and room – and made for some insightful questioning. It was a riveting start to the evening.
Heather shared more detail on NatWest’s ‘Back Her Business’ crowd funding initiative which aims to close the gender gap by creating an additional 65,000 new female led businesses by 2025.
Delivered in partnership with Crowdfunder, the platform has just gone live and is definitely worth investigating for those considering crowdfunding as “the bank will provide a top-up in funding of £1m per annum and will be offering up to 50% of an individual’s fundraising target (capped at £5,000) for certain successful projects.”
Chloe, a former dressage athlete and serial entrepreneur, spoke candidly about the practicalities of raising funding while running a startup.
Her insight into this as a founder who has successfully raised investment funding for two startups was keenly anticipated, judging from the results of this pre-event poll via Assenty.
Chloe is no stranger to #FemaleTechFounder Night having spoken at the very first event. Awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2018, she previously built a dental education company but created DigiDentistry to save costs and target all learning domains.
She shared many pearls of wisdom born of hard won experience, just two are: work hard with user trials to ensure that your product is something users will pay for and identify early on how much information to send to potential investors.
Her tip on creating a 2 page business plan including hyperlinks to full pages versus sending 20+ pages that would likely be skim-read was fantastic!
Following on the theme of funding a startup, Nicola Weedall, founder of Autopaid kicked off her lighting talk by sharing her experiences in raising funding for the fintech startup which helps SMEs get paid 95-97% of the value of an invoice the day it is sent.
A key takeaway from her talk was the importance of having stacks of resilience and determination, she literally would not take no for an answer from funders, going back to see those who had said no, until eventually she got a yes!
She went from being the subject matter expert within a founding team to becoming the solo founder and successfully raised the funding required to get the business off the ground.
An engaging double act, they talked about creating the brand’s iconic dress with its patented design that allows it to accommodate different body shapes, and the decisions that led to their Kickstarter campaign which successfully reached its £10,000 target earlier that day, and with 36 days to go.
It was fascinating to learn that the Kickstarter campaign had doubled as a mechanism to gauge interest in pre-ordering the dresses – they wisely set out to do this before investing in e-commerce functionality.
Up next after Laura and Rachel was Gemma McCall (@Gezzabelle) co-founder, Culture Shift. Culture Shift’s first product is Report + Support, a web platform which enables the anonymous reporting of bullying & harassment.
Gemma’s lightning talk was an inspiring look at the journey from idea to platform creation: Report + Support was inspired by the statistic that only 2% of those experiencing sexual violence felt both able to report it and were satisfied with the process.
Incredibly, after taking steps to turn this negative statistic to positive action by working with her co-founders to create a reporting platform that redressed the balance, the Me Too movement hurtled into the public consciousness and suddenly, the need and the opportunity became much bigger than they envisaged.
Gemma’s five tips for #FemaleTechFounders were a poignant reminder of the realities of running a business – you need to: 1. Employ ahead 2. Save for rainy days 3. Employ good advisors 4. Price properly and 5. Focus on Business development.
Viv’s talk was full of pragmatic advice from years of experience working in both the corporate world and in small business. Her hard hitting realism was delivered with much humour – she has seen both the life of enterprise and business turnarounds, having helped prepare accountancy software giant Sage list on the London Stock Exchange, and run her own bakery business.
A key takeaway from her presentation was on the importance of not going it alone – using the analogy of running a marathon, she really drove home the importance of having a tag team to help cope with the difficult days that are part and parcel of running a startup.
All in all, it really was a great event. There was one drawback – we ran out of time to do the closing Q&A session with all four speakers(!)
Instead, we asked attendees to post any questions on the question board for the event, these would then be answered by the speakers via Twitter the following day.
During the event, we were joined by a team from regional news website Prolific North who were there to invite attendees to exhibit for free at the Tech Show North, alongside the likes of Dell, PWC, UKFast and Tesla!
We didn’t have any time for announcements once the talks had started and so for anyone that didn’t get to speak to Josh and Charlie from Prolific North, the inaugural Tech Show North takes place at EventCity over 8 and 9 May and startups that meet the criteria receive a free spot in the Tech Bazaar, sponsored by Barclays Eagle Labs. There are more details here – for more information email jacob <at> prolificnorth.co.uk to get involved.
Save the date! The next #FemaleTechFounder Night is on Tuesday 14 May. Keep an eye out for news and announcements regarding this – we’re looking for speakers and will let you know how you can get involved.
Follow @TechFemale on Twitter for updates!!
And, if you have any comments to make please submit them too – you can post anonymously.
Here comes a recap of the night in tweets!