On November 30th 2023, we had the pleasure of organising the 8th edition of the Women Founders Conference at The Office, in Luxembourg City. During the event, we were honoured to welcome inspiring women, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. They shared their journey, experiences and challenges during a fire chat and a panel discussion.
To start the event, we welcomed Samaher Garbaya a Space engineer, Tech entrepreneur, Founder & CCO at Myelin-H, a neurotechnology company that provides healthcare professionals with software to monitor and diagnose neurological diseases remotely and in real-time, in a fire chat with our moderator Myriam Rachid Bonhomme. She talked about the main challenges and the keys to succeed as an entrepreneur.
According to Samaher, being an entrepreneur is not easy, “Never ever give up! Be persistent!”. She also suggested that to have a good start it is mandatory to build a strong advice report from day one, this will allow you to connect with the right business angels. “Finding the right business angels will simplify the fund-raising process.”
She also gave her advice for team member recruitment, stating that during the recruitment process, it is also necessary to choose people who believe in the company’s mission because the founders and the team have to share the same vision. She added that this might imply that in some cases the focus has to be more on the soft skills and less on the technical skills to find people willing to learn and work hard, every day until late into the night if needed.
On the second Panel we welcomed Irene Prota, Investment Manager at Porsche Venture, a corporate venture capital unit for premium sports car manufacturer Porsche; Lily Wang Partner at Expon Capital, a venture capital firm, headquartered in Luxembourg, investing in private technology companies; and Lynn Zoenen, Principal at Alpine Space Venture, the leading European investment fund manager in the NewSpace sector. They shared their experiences and gave us an insight into their daily routine and what it means to be a Venture Capitalist.
According to Irene Prota, the primary mission of a VC is to scout startups and tech businesses and to guide them through their early stages and development stages. Lily Wang added to it that part of the mission is also to be a good partner in good and in bad times, by being an intermediary between the startup and the corporate. Being a partner is not only about the financial aspect but also about being able to introduce the startups to potential customers and other talents.
During the panel, it was highlighted that one of the major pitfalls encountered by startups is to focus on funds too early. One of our VCs mentioned that they have to “get some work done, before you go there”, meaning that it is important for startups to first focus on building a clear and concise structured company where the function of each member is well known before looking for funds.
Another aspect that has been discussed with our guest speakers has been the importance of female representation in the VC field and when it comes to entrepreneurship. According to Irene “success has to be seen”, she pointed out that it is important to support women who are working in those fields, to allow their success to be seen, so that other women may be encouraged. Lily said women should not be afraid to try, “if you don’t try you will never know”. But for change to happen, it is not only about women ready to take a leap of faith but as Lynn mentioned the right infrastructure made available, as well as the political willingness to change the narrative. It is only then that an organic change can happen. This change will not remain in this generation but will be communicated to the children because “girls look up to their mom”, as stated by Lynn Zoenen.
After the enriching panel discussions with our guests, this event has also been the perfect opportunity to share about our “Impact web Studio” and to announce our ”call for projects”. The service offered by our studio is the development of web pages at an affordable price for our clients.
As part of the event, we also had a small networking session, allowing us to connect with other women, to further exchange about the main topics discussed during the conference and share our personal experiences.