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Em­pow­er­ing Women to Lead Dig­i­tal Star­tups


Although the startup scene is boom­ing in Lux­em­bourg, there is still a mi­nor­ity of women founders. In­ter­est in our ac­tiv­i­ties, such as en­trepreneur­ship and cod­ing work­shops, how­ever, is grow­ing and women clearly tell us that they want to start their own com­pa­nies.

We have in­vited many founders to our events and also to our Women Founders Con­fer­ence with Sil­i­con Lux­em­bourg. Vir­ginie Si­mon (My­science­work) was a speaker at our launch event, and we also hosted Genna Elvin (Tadaweb), Polina Frolova (Jobto­day) and Alexan­dra Fernán­dez Ramos (Trav­el­sify), all of whom we have been fol­low­ing since the be­gin­ning of their startup ad­ven­tures.

Launched in June last year, we are happy to share with you some ex­cit­ing news about the WIDE Startup Lead­er­ship pro­gram.

Around 50 ap­pli­ca­tions have been re­ceived, mainly from Lux­em­bourg but also from Ber­lin and South Amer­ica. We got great press cov­er­age and the launch was a real call for ideas from women who have been think­ing about launch­ing their own tech star­tups for sev­eral months or even years. The pro­gram is sup­ported by the Min­istry of Econ­omy, BIL and Fin­immo/fin­corp.

The projects sub­mit­ted cov­ered var­i­ous fields. In­ter­est­ingly enough, we re­ceived very sim­i­lar projects: a few e-com­merce projects as well as sev­eral plat­form ideas for find­ing mul­ti­lin­gual ser­vices in Lux­em­bourg.

The first step with all the ap­pli­cants was to re­fine their busi­ness mod­els and do the ba­sic math and desk re­search: What is the size of my po­ten­tial mar­ket? What re­sources do I need to make it hap­pen? Ap­ply­ing to the pro­gram was also a chance for many to have their first “re­al­ity check.” The ma­jor­ity of the ap­pli­cants did not con­tact any other en­trepreneur­ship sup­port or­ga­ni­za­tion be­fore get­ting in touch with WIDE, which demon­strates the im­por­tance of the pro­gram as it cre­ates a nec­es­sary point of en­try for women in the tech and startup ecosys­tem.

Our pitch­ing and fund­ing con­fer­ence (at Mi­crosoft, in part­ner­ship with LBAN) in Septem­ber was a huge suc­cess, with po­ten­tial founders look­ing for qual­ity in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting fund­ing.

Twelve projects have now been se­lected, in­clud­ing five projects in the fin­tech sec­tor, and we have de­cided to fo­cus solely on early-stage projects. We se­lected the projects based on the po­ten­tial of the idea of course, but also the founder's com­mit­ment to make it hap­pen. At the mo­ment, most of our founders are fo­cus­ing on their projects full­time. We are also of­fer­ing con­sult­ing to sev­eral women who are al­ready en­trepreneurs and would now like to de­velop a prod­uct based on a tech­nol­ogy. Sev­eral of our ap­pli­cants took the leap of faith and re­signed from their jobs to work full­time on their projects and one even de­cided to do a cod­ing boot camp in or­der to code her prod­uct by her­self. She had pre­vi­ously par­tic­i­pated in a WIDE cod­ing work­shop and found the con­fi­dence and sup­port to go for it.

We en­cour­age solo-founders to look for team mem­bers and co-founders. Three of the women se­lected are de­vel­op­ers them­selves, the rest are cur­rently look­ing for CTOS to part­ner with.


We are highly flex­i­ble and adapt to the projects' needs. In De­cem­ber, we held a project booster ses­sion us­ing De­sign Think­ing meth­ods and, as a re­sult, three projects (with the help of 20 par­tic­i­pants and vol­un­teers) were able to come up with a first low-fi­delity so­lu­tion. Sev­eral other projects are cur­rently un­der de­vel­op­ment. Prod­uct and user feed­back will def­i­nitely keep our founders busy in the first months of 2018. Two com­pa­nies are in the process of be­ing cre­ated and one has signed its first client.

We also started con­nect­ing our par­tic­i­pants with our team of ad­vi­sors and ex­perts. We are plan­ning to or­ga­nize a demo day for part­ners and in­vestors in May; par­tic­i­pants find it mo­ti­vat­ing to have com­mon dead­lines to meet!

We have learned a lot from the launch of the pro­gram. We see that many women are still wor­ried about jug­gling fam­ily com­mit­ments and that it is clearly the main fac­tor slow­ing down our ap­pli­cants. Mov­ing from the idea stage to prod­uct cre­ation, which re­quires the al­lo­ca­tion of time and fi­nan­cial re­sources, is a chal­lenge for many of our ap­pli­cants. This is where we try to help the most.

We be­lieve that thanks to the pro­gram, and also to the other events and ac­tiv­i­ties we or­ga­nize, ev­ery woman who wants to start some­thing in Lux­em­bourg in the dig­i­tal field has the chance to test her idea and ac­cess our com­mu­nity to get sup­port.

We will ac­cept new projects over the course of 2018. We are look­ing for solid projects where tech and dig­i­tal can bring real added value to solv­ing real-life prob­lems. Ide­ally, we would like to hear from founders within a team (gender balance is en­cour­aged!), prefer­ably with an en­gi­neer as part of the team.

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