Supporting women in startup entrepreneurship and digital education for nearly 10 years, Marina Andrieu is a key figure in the tech ecosystem. The co-founder of WIDE takes a few moments to talk about the remaining challenges for women in tech, the recent changes in her organisation and the upcoming edition of the Women Founders, the major event giving visibility to female founders in Luxembourg and inspiring others.
You are organising a new edition of the Women Founders event. Is it still useful and necessary to genderize such an event? What topics will be discussed?
We have been organising Women Founders since 2017. The goal of the event is clearly to give visibility to women founders and inspire others. This is not a pitching event. We are looking for true testimonials, as we want to understand the founder’s journey better and be able to learn lessons from other entrepreneurs.
Of course, we always have had a focus on tech, international and scalable ventures. We want to show that women can have big ambitions and use digital to achieve their goals. We also like to invite key ecosystem professionals, like VCs (women and men), lawyers and mentors.
I am proud to say that we were the very first ones to invite most of the female founders in Luxembourg. We are clearly opening a door and we are very happy to be back, live, at House of Startups this year!
The presence of women in entrepreneurship is still a topic of discussion. What is your analysis? What notable evolutions have you seen in the last 5 years?
I have met a lot of women joining our events and workshops to gain skills (especially coding) and get inspiration in order to develop their own companies. We had the chance to work closely with more than 50 aspiring tech founders. We have seen very promising projects, a few are still going on. 2018 and 2019 were probably the best years with the start of F4A (Food4All), StarTalers, WEO, and Scrobble that we all had in our programmes.
However, with the pandemic, we have seen the number of applicants and attendees to our entrepreneurial activities dropping and national statistics also confirmed this trend. I am convinced that we have talented and educated women based here who are willing to start a tech and scalable venture, sometimes attending one event or meeting one person can make the difference to go for it. Having the confidence and allowing yourself to take risks is still a big challenge for many women.
We have seen a few successes but also mainly projects failing. After launching, many women have to give up because of a lack of funding. We barely count more than one women-led startup raising serious seed funding each year in Luxembourg
From an association, WIDE has become a SIS. Can you tell us about such an evolution and about WIDE’s current news and activities?
Becoming a social enterprise was a very important step for us. After all, we have been encouraging women to become entrepreneurs for nearly 10 years and we felt that it was high time for us to do the same! We wanted to create more social impact and be able to better measure it.
With the social impact company (SIS), we focus on digital skills, gender equality and entrepreneurship. We can offer new services such as training to companies. An upcoming training will be about “recruiting and retaining women in IT”. We also have a great partnership with the Digital Learning Hub where we organise popular coding and digital sessions and provide support to women looking for new opportunities in IT.
We see ourselves as a talent incubator and connector. Our pitching and funding conference will be back in the Spring. We are also working on our studio model and are committed to providing tech resources to women founders in order to develop Minimum Viable Products.