It’s another gloriously sunny day in Manchester, as it was on Tuesday and so, understandably, turnout was lower than expected for the fourth #FemaleTechFounder Night at Federation House.
After a wet and windy spring, summer has undoubtedly made an appearance and so perhaps the pull of the park, pub garden or cafe patio proved stronger than an evening indoors.
Still, for those that came, the highly anticipated Q&A panel discussion on what investors expect from a founder, plus four sterling lightning talks from four inspiring female founders and co-founders and a riveting, audience led Q&A with the four speakers at the end made for a really informative evening.
Thank you to our fantastic speakers, and to compere extraordinaire Claire-Marie Boggiano (@CMBoggiano), director, Lurig Ltd for an amazing evening and to hosts ThoughtWorks for the lovely event space and food and refreshments.
This meant that the audience had a firm grasp of what to expect at the event – and were able to indicate which topics of discussion could form the basis of future events.
For example, next month’s event will include a pitch practice session on the basis of the results of the pre-event poll on pitching, but more on this later.
Understanding what investors expect from a founder was a focus of this month’s event and the stellar panel including Naomi Timperley (@naomitimperley), Chair of investment platform Capital Pilot, Jessica Jackson (@jessandthehive), Investment Director at GC Angels and James Bedford (@jamesbedford140), Head of Investment Partnerships, Tech Nation, really laid out some helpful advice for startup founders actively seeking investment funding.
The speakers for this Q&A panel had provided questions for the quick polls for this discussion.
It was incredible to see how useful these turned out to be for gauging the audience’s perceptions of the investment space, before the event.
One speaker said that the audience insights in the polls and the accompanying infographic of results made the event “one of the best things I’ve attended!”
Although at times contrarian, the panellists’ advice was very much around keeping founders grounded in reality when embarking on the process of fund raising.
One of the memorable quotes from the Q&A discussion was a reminder that there is no such thing as ‘free money’, it was better for a startup to have a commercial focus because the process of raising funding, whether from angel investors or from grants could be long and fraught with changing requirements.
The four lightning talk speakers had incredibly different backgrounds and as such gave a varied account of the journey in setting up and sustaining a tech startup.
Anna Dick (@Dixi_chick), CTO, Hiring Hub who kicked off this segment shared her journey into her role at the venture-backed recruitment startup, and the challenges she has faced and overcome in steering and growing the development team there, no mean feat in a city of gargantuan tech ambitions like Manchester – competition for tech talent is fierce and unrelenting.
Elsa Zekeng (@elsazekeng), Director & Head of student engagement, Jobseekrs and Co-Founder, Solidarity In Tech shared her journey from accomplished scientist to co-founder of Solidarity in Tech, the non profit arm of Jobseekrs, the GCHQ-incubated startup which is up for the People’s Choice Award at Pitch@Palace. She gave some fantastic advice on putting oneself out there and taking opportunities as they came.
Natalie Jameson (@njco2design), Founder and CEO, The Heroworx shared how her experiences in the corporate world, plus a stint in creating the UK’s first chain of retail co-located dentists led to the development of her latest venture in empowering women in the enterprise space with tech skills.
Saskia Coplans (@ms__chief), Founder and Security Consultant, Digital Interruption‘s talk included frank insights on the security considerations startups should examine, particularly as they go for investment funding. Her experiences in starting Digital Interruption were an inspirational eye opener on how setting out to create a company with strong values and ethics creates competitive advantage and engenders employee loyalty.
The Q&A discussion with all four speakers at the end covered the issue of scaling, amongst other things, with a consensus settling on growing from small, rather than raising cash to splurge on a bigger team.
As has been the case over the last three events, the live coverage of the event on Twitter is always a great indicator of the quality of discussion at the events. See below!
The next #FemaleTechFounder Night is on Tuesday 11 June, and as mentioned earlier, we will be running a pitch practice session. This is in keeping with efforts to nurture a growing community for female founders by getting your feedback before, during and after the event.
Please contact Tanya Nicol (@TanyaNicol) if you’re interested in taking part in the pitch practice session and look out for more information on how to get involved.
Read on for the tweets!