This phenomenon sprung from the platform’s members during the corona pandemic, says Ingelou Stol, co-founder of Fe+male Tech Heroes. “At the beginning of the pandemic, it was all of sudden compulsory to work from home. That took some getting used to. You miss your colleagues, the conversations around the coffee machine. Our members were looking for connections, inspiration and they wanted to help each other.” So, Stol and Hilde de Vocht, co-founder of Fe+male Tech Heroes, came up with online mentoring sessions.
“We started with 30 women and men who served as role models. They all volunteered to coach talents from young to old on topics such as leadership and personal growth and how to survive in a male-dominated world.” In total, approximately two hundred and fifty people have already followed a digital mentor session. For this third session, one hundred and forty talents are adding to that number.
During the plenary kick-off event, Madeleen Stamm, coach and trainer for ambitious women and founder of Sowings, guides the audience through the topic of growth mindset. Stamm studied Business Administration at the Erasmus University. She then worked as a career coach at TU Delft and as a tech recruiter in the Brainport region, among other things. “All in the world of technology. While during my studies there was always a little voice in my head saying: ‘You’re not good at math, or at anything technical at all.'”
That is then the crux of the difference between the so-called fixed mindset and a growth mindset, Stamm explains. “It’s about what you tell yourself, what you believe in, and what you do with that. People who are very strong in their fixed mindset have the belief that everything is predetermined. Your intelligence, your abilities. In that mindset, there’s nothing you can do to grow, develop- you’re either good at something or you’re not.”
While on the other hand, there is the growth mindset. “Then you essentially believe that you can actually learn and develop yourself. People with a growth mindset can look at themselves in retrospect and see how much they have grown. With a growth mindset you focus more on the process than on the result. When it comes to a fixed mindset, the result is the most important thing.”
Beating around the bush
Everyone has both types of mindsets, Stamm says. “A fixed mindset is not necessarily negative. It protects you. For example, when you start doing something new, you don’t know how it will turn out. Your brain then keeps you in your comfort zone. It’s good to realize that and to embrace it. Know when that happens. And then decide what to do with it, because it can also deter you from doing that new thing.”
As a working mother of three kids, she worked night and day to do everything, Stam explains during the keynote session. “I was telling myself all kinds of stories about what would still be possible for me and what wasn’t.” Until she decided to stop doing that in 2019. She let go of “have to do” so she could pursue what she “wants to do.” She founded her own company, Sowings, and has been offering personal leadership and career coaching courses to mostly women ever since.
Her motto is dare to bloom. “When we dare to do what we are good at, then we add the most value. Then everything falls into place. That’s how I developed my growth mindset over the years. Because when you start your own business, you often make mistakes, I can tell you that.”
Watch Madeleen Stamm’s full speech here.
After Stamm’s session, the one hundred and forty professionals digitally spread out over the rest of the session with the twenty-seven mentors. Two of them are entrepreneurs Cheryl and Terry Boyd. They are mentors for the second time and shared their lessons with Innovation Origins prior to the mentor sessions.
Starting a business also entails knowing how to find people with money. That’s one of the lessons from the entrepreneurial couple Boyd. American Cheryl and Terry Boyd launched their second media company Dispatches Europe in 2015 at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven in The Netherlands. Their target group: Expats in Europe.
In America, they were owners of Insider Louisville, one of the first all-digital news companies. They sold that company in 2013. They spent another year working for the new owner, as consultants, and then moved to Eindhoven with the capital they had raised.
Their main strength is to discover where they need to be in order to network. After extensive research, they chose Eindhoven, says Terry Boyd. Cheryl Boyd adds: “You have so much talent here, so many start-ups. You can also be in Amsterdam and Brussels in no time. Eindhoven is right in the middle of all the action. It really is a hotspot for a start-up in tech. From here, we can tell the stories for the people who want to establish themselves in Europe.”
Soon after their arrival, the couple joined the “deep tech start-up building” program High Tech XL. They do the marketing and communications there. Cheryl has years of experience in executive sales positions and in communications, which she can use to help start-ups. Before they started their company, Terry worked as a war correspondent and financial reporter. Terry: “I mostly saw what not to do when you start a business.” His lessons? Don’t think that you will be successful overnight. “Everything takes infinitely longer than you plan. Being impatient is good as an entrepreneur because you push yourself and everyone else. But being unrealistic shows potential investors that you haven’t got a clue.”
Or: If you can’t get along with people, you shouldn’t become an entrepreneur. “You will deal with difficult, obnoxious and sometimes downright crazy people. We’ve seen teams with great technology fail because the CEO or the founders had no social skills, no empathy and no understanding of the needs or even the feelings of other people.” He has another ten examples of this.
During the previous mentor session, Cheryl and Terry Boyd mostly listened to the four mentees and answered their questions, Terry recounts. One of his mentees, Geertje Algera, Terry remembers well. “She had some great questions about how she could reach new audiences with her ‘filming with your smartphone’ course.”
Algera: “As a mentee, I got a load of energy from such experienced entrepreneurs who have a gigantic network. Through them, I came into contact with, among others, Fontys University of Applied Sciences and the St. Lucas and Start-up Village in Amsterdam. Valuable contacts that, once the events get going again, I can definitely start doing business with.”
Read more about Fe+Male Tech Heroes here.
Networking is truly the couple’s forte. Terry: “If you’re a start-up in the U.S., there are all kinds of events and parties where you can meet people who are either running up against the same issues, or new relationships whom you can do business with. It’s so important to be open to new contacts. If you’ve been around in the start-up world long enough, you know that you need moral support from others to make progress.”
There is however a difference between networking in the US and networking in the Netherlands, says Terry. “In the US, you quickly learn where you need to be to meet others. The most important thing is to find out who has money. Before we came to Eindhoven, we learned how to network. And we learned to ask people for ridiculous amounts of money.”
Building up a network in Eindhoven did take a bit longer. Cheryl: “Americans are fast, loud and brash. You can’t be like that here. Here, things happen at a slower and more stable pace. We had to calm down and really get to know the people first.” Terry: “In the US, you can literally do business in a few days or sometimes even a few hours. Here you have to build a relationship first; that can sometimes take years.”
The couple has been going to Drinks, Pitches and Demos every month since it started in 2015. On account of corona, we did that online for a while, but as of this month it’s in person again. “Not that we always feel like going there at 5 pm on Wednesdays, but we always meet new people there with great ideas or people we can help.”