How did you come up with the idea to start the FemTech Academy?
Karolina: I really wanted to have someone who shared the same values and beliefs as I do. I met Nina and we understood that we’re both very much passionate about supporting women and making sure that they build successful careers and move up the ladder and understand how to create their own businesses. Six years ago, taking the step towards entrepreneurship was scary and there were not many people that would help me throughout the process. I understood, that if I had more help I would move faster. That’s why I really want to guide others and to give them the knowledge and insights.
Nina: I ran diversity initiatives for female entrepreneurs in my career. Many of them were about mentoring and giving back to the community. When I was living and studying in San Francisco, I was completely impressed by how it functioned there. One of my projects with Google was Digital Academy where I have gathered top entrepreneurs to give free but effective recommendations that could be used in order to build an online business. It was truly inspirational, in three years we have educated over 50 000 females. When I moved to Berlin to lead startups and VCs for Google, I was looking for opportunities to continue doing something like that. What I realized is, that there is a need to extend educational curriculum and together with learnings of how to build business online using online tools, we need to include as well topics like: how to use the media channels, how to learn about branding, how to come up with the idea, how to support the brand, how to create the logo and many other technical parts. But I would have never started that project if I wouldn’t have a great partner on my side.
What’s the exact concept of the FemTech Academy?
Nina: FemTech Academy is a platform, first of all, that brings free, very high quality education to those who need it, whether they need to boost their knowledge or build that knowledge from scratch on how to build and run a business. It also covers various behavioral aspects that a person needs, in order to be successful – skills, knowledge, communication, networking, raising money. I believe that we are able to have a bigger social impact by boosting female entrepreneurship.
Karolina: FemTech Academy is a social impact project. We’re not making money on this. It is truly to help others succeed within their ideas and their businesses. We also want to partner up with others, there’s so many mentorship programs and communities. For us to achieve our goal to educate and support as many women as possible, we can only reach it together with others. Digital definitely helps us do that – it literally doesn’t even matter where your business is anymore and that’s the beauty of it.
What are your main pain points that you want to abolish? What are you hoping to change?
Karolina: I think we have quite a lot of female entrepreneurs and there is much more on the rise. But being a woman, it’s naturally more difficult – it’s normal for us to be a bit more scared and more skeptical when starting a business. I don’t think this is how it is for the younger generation, which is amazing. But it’s different for women who were not born in the 2000s. I don’t think there is lack of great ideas. Every woman in the world probably had one to five million euros’ idea in their heads, but they just never preceded, because they didn’t know which steps to take. And that’s what we are trying to change.
Nina: When it comes to pain points – a very simple answer would be: access to a high quality education. There are many females, who are really doing great projects. But if we look a bit deeper in terms of the countries, such as India, African countries or Pakistan, there is a very small percentage of women, who are actually succeeding. And the reason for that is, that if you look at statistics, there’s a very small number of female leaders. Yes, they are now more vocal. But the numbers don’t lie – we are not even close to equality. Another pain point would be ageism – something that very often happens to females especially. Our product fights with this, it is not designed for just young and brave. It’s for every woman, no matter what age she is. Because equality should be available for all.
Right now, the times are difficult for a lot of people. You’re strongly digitally based, so that’s a big advantage at the moment. What are the challenges that you are facing right now?
Nina: It’s not just the challenges, there are opportunities as well, for example to go viral or to find partnerships and speakers, who have a big network within the female communities. And to get support from the government. We’re building the free product, but the digital world is not free and with additional resources we could boost it even more and reach more people.
Karolina: Nothing is free and for us to get our message more out into the world there needs to be an expanded budget.
Nina: It’s funny, because we actually have to spend a lot of time explaining to people that it is completely free, with no hidden costs!
We’ve talked about the past and the present. What is your biggest goal or milestone that you want to achieve?
Karolina: The first one is, that within the next five years we want to educate 10 million women through our platform. I would be happy to see countries where education is not as available as it is in Europe or in the USA. It’s going to be quite an effort for us to reach 10 million women, but I know we can do it. The second milestone would be to find more great ambassadors and speakers, who want to contribute to the academy. What we’re asking for is one hour of their time that they would contribute to potentially educate millions of women around the world, which is absolutely fantastic.
Nina: To make the expansions. I think that one of the milestones is to be open to the feedback and see what particular learnings, different females and different aspects require, because it’s a very diverse world. The moment when we hit our first million, we have big dreams to expand our budget and so that money would go towards the education within the regions, which don’t have opportunity to pay for their education.
Tags: Digitalization, Diversity, Education, Empowerment, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Know how, Society, Women