Founder Hanneke Stegweg of iLost won the first prize at the TheNextWomen Female Innovation day on December 12. Together with Katya Vladislavleva from Evolved Analytics and Lisanne Buik from Van Chefs she is going through to the finals in February 2012. These women entrepreneurs were awarded this prize by a jury of women entrepreneurs and investment professionals at the well attended female innovation day at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven.
iLost is a website for lost and found objects. The website has already launched and aims at both consumers and companies: consumers can report lost objects for a small fee, and large organizations can outsource their lost and found administrative burdens to iLost. The jury, consisting of investment professionals and entrepreneurs had a few critical questions about the required investment amount but praised the way Hanneke presented her company.
Second prize winner is Katya Vladislavleva from Evolved Analytics. She has been working already for a few years on technology to handle semistructured data. According to the professional investors in the jury (including Robert Verwaaijen from Prime Ventures, Herman Kienhuis from SanomaVentures, Martijn Blom from De Investeerdersclub and Mirjam Kramer from foundation Suikeroom) there was a lot of potential for this company because ‘big data’ is a major topic for investment funds.
The third prize and third entrepreneur to go to the finals is Lisanne Buik from Van Chefs. Her company improves upon current food delivery services by connecting to real chefs to deliver quality food to the home. The jury saw great potential because similar formulas are already successful in other countries.
Other ideas pitched included social ideas for instance for Thyroid patients (moodreports) and elderly people with dementia (senior-idays), tailor-made fashion (Shebusa) and a new formula for legal services (mijneigencontract). A keynote speech was given by Jackie Schooleman from Virtual Proteins, who started her company in 2004 and has been working on successful medical visualization solutions. “You need perseverance to succeed in healthcare” was one of the key lessons from her talk.
These female innovation days are organized by TheNextWomen. This business magazine for female heroes is an initiative by Simone Brummelhuis. Of course many women are already successful as entrepreneurs, as many examples show (to mention just a few examples: Odette Oostindien of Shakie’s and Anita de Groot from AIM consulting group in the jury, iWhisper founder Mirte and Infotron’s Felienne from the Inbys report series nr 1 and Inbys report nr 2, and previous interviewees on this blog with Earlydoc CEO Marieke Schoutsen en Beautybookers‘ CEO Ingrid Sloots). One could argue that special categories and prizes for women are therefore not needed. Many women entrepreneurs however do not have enough business connections compared to male entrepreneurs and thus less access to knowledge and capital. With events like these, TheNextWomen creates extra opportunities especially for women: not just to train their pitch in the morning, but also to present their company to the audience (largely consisting of women) and jury and to talk to other women entrepreneurs. As this fully booked event shows, this event is highly appreciated by the many attendants who want to help female founders grow their business.
About the author: Sieuwert van Otterloo (twitter: @entreprenl) is a management consultant with a focus on IT-enabled business. He gives software related advice via the Software Improvement Group, startup and innovation advice via Inbys and manages his own venture fund Otterloo Ventures. He writes for Startupjuncture and Frankwatching.