”In the technology space, you need to understand the dynamics of how the tech world works – at the minimum – from a conceptual point of view. Therefore I would advise women to study up on data science, coding, and artificial intelligence. Become a subject-matter expert. Read, read, read. Because what makes you good at your job are skills, hard skills.” – Birgit Thumecke
Q: What are your current areas of focus?
As the CEO of a startup, I wear many hats and so do my colleagues. My main role is planning and steering the company, with limited resources, on a path toward profitability, financing, and/or an exit. I manage expenses and external financing, so we don’t run out of money. I allocate capital to the company’s priorities and direct its financial management, I focus on fundraising and investor relations. I oversee the business plan and financial model as I am responsible for efficient administration, particularly with regard to compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, and for ensuring that the decisions made by the board of directors are implemented.
We have just completed a rigorous Due Diligence with the Keiretsu Forum, a global investment consortium of accredited private equity angel investors, venture capitalists and corporate/institutional investors. It kept me fairly busy for the last 2-3 months. For more information please find our Due Diligence summary and further investor-related content at https://www.eventerprise.com/invest . We started with this right after two investor roadshows; the first one took us back to the US, particularly Chicago, Ann Arbor, Cincinnati, and San Francisco while the second took us to Hong Kong, where we exhibited at RISE, one of the largest and fastest-growing tech conferences on the planet.
Eventerprise is now raising a late-seed round of $1.1 million via convertible note with a 20% conversion discount and a $10M valuation cap. $275K has been raised in the first close, with $825K remaining, of which we plan to raise no less than $500k in this second close to fund the LA launch – our first US city.
In the growth phase that lays ahead I will be able to focus more on team building, talent sourcing, motivating, supporting, and growing our team as well as sales because at Eventerprise, we are all in sales!
Q: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Be bolder, be more daring & think bigger!
One of the most common regrets even successful people have is that they “didn’t think big enough.” Many of the things we want in our lives will come to us as long as we give ourselves permission to receive them. If we cannot envision it, it won’t ever happen or ever be ours. Whether you’re looking for a promotion, a new career opportunity, or a better life overall, it starts by thinking 10X bigger and raising your standards.
For example, billionaire and co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, came up with a great question you can ask yourself to do just this:
“What would you have to do if you want to achieve your 10-year goal in six months?”
This level of XXL-thinking forces you to break past your current limitations and fears and ultimately approach your career with confidence and ambition.
Q: How do you improve your financial knowledge?
I like numbers. I started my career as a subject matter expert in revenue accounts in the airline industry on the back of a diploma which I have received from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Airline Accounting & Finance.
Later in my career, I became a managing director of a company with 450 staff, and although I employed a financial manager, as managing director I naturally had to understand the finances. I’ve always dealt with the tasks and never shied away from taking up the challenges. Finance is not rocket science, it’s pretty straight forward. It is a rational discipline and, should you need to learn more, everything can be found on the internet.
Today, I am a crossover between CEO & CFO, I run the financial management at Eventerprise. I am constantly learning and that will probably continue. One can never know it all, and you have to stay open to learning new things. I am fortunate that I have a good network of advisors, on whom I can rely at any time, made up of investment bankers and accountants amongst others. The important thing is not to be too arrogant or too shy to ask. The formula I apply is simple:
Should I ask or should I be told? – A: ASK! Q: Do I look stupid if I ask? – A: Who cares?
We can all obtain knowledge and we should be proactive about it, as it will not be delivered to us on a silver platter. That is how I have improved my financial knowledge, by asking a lot of questions, reading up and simply doing it: cash flow analysis, accounting, financial modeling, use of funds projections, capital formation strategy, annual financial returns and so forth.
Q: What advice would you give to a woman considering technology as her career?
The truth is that women are still vastly underrepresented in the tech space. Those who are in tech must speak up. I would advise them to use their voices to bring more women in and use that same voice when it comes to creating more inclusive technological solutions. A lot of the technology is funded, designed and built by groups of predominantly male investors, designers and engineers. More women deserve the investment and support of their peers to develop inclusive solutions that have the potential to unlock entirely new markets and revenues.
Sometimes women are other women’s worst enemies. We do not do a fantastic job of creating jobs for other women. We need to elevate each other and rely more on mentoring and networking.
In the technology space, you need to understand the dynamics of how the tech world works – at the minimum – from a conceptual point of view. Therefore I would advise women to study up on data science, coding, and artificial intelligence. Become a subject-matter expert. Read, read, read. Because what makes you good at your job are skills, hard skills.
Q: What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?
Women are hesitant to talk up their accomplishments because they are often penalized when they do. And yet I advocate that women should learn how to better self-promote. Both women and men fear that people won’t like them if they are self-promoting, but women are more likely to let it stop them. So, while both genders worry about rejection, this fear inhibits women’s, but not men’s, abilities to promote themselves. It’s not that women are inherently lacking in the ability to self-promote, but it seems unnatural or unethical for them. That’s an unfortunate reality because self-promotion is essential to getting ahead. Men also may be perceived as overly boastful, but the bar is set much higher for them. Women, on the other hand, face a double bind. They’re punished for behaving in ways that might be perceived as immodest, and they’re punished professionally for behaving in ways that aren’t self-promoting. Regardless of the underlying reasons, whether it be misunderstood modesty or the risk of being perceived as pushy or bossy, I firmly believe women should promote themselves more strongly and way more often. However, each woman should do this in her own way and not simply copy of men. For anything to yield the desired outcome, it must be carried out authentically. You can’t expect anyone to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. That means that every woman has to determine her own stance, be more or less assertive etc. until it feels right for her.
Q: Tell us about your proudest achievement?
It’s personal. My mother was from South Africa and moved to Germany to marry my father and live there. This was not possible in South Africa because of Apartheid and the so-called “immorality act”, as my mother was a person of colour and my father was white. At that time, one wrote airmail letters on thin light blue paper that took forever and a day to reach its destination, let alone to receive a reply. Approximately every 3 months, my parents registered a long-distance call to South Africa with the local post office. Although the call never lasted for more than 5 minutes, the cost was horrendous. When my maternal grandmother was seriously ill, my mother flew home for the first time in almost 10 years. That was very expensive at that time and hardly anyone ever flew on vacation, not even short distance to Mallorca, so I was very aware of my mother’s constant yearning and homesickness. I was maybe 10 years old and helped my mother washing the dishes when I looked out of the kitchen window and saw an aeroplane flying high up in the sky. Then and there I promised my mother that as soon as I grew up, I would allow her to fly home regularly. I did not know how, but I was certain I would find a way.
At the beginning of my twenties, I started working for an airline and my dream came true. My mother flew regularly to South Africa several times a year.
This is most certainly one of my proudest achievements. It ties in with my answer to question no. 6 – who dares wins.
Learn more at www.eventerprise.com/invest
Eventerprise.com is a Swiss global tech startup on a mission to connect the world of events. We do this by ensuring technology is accessible, inclusive and affordable across an underserved market. Eventerprise makes it easier to create memorable experiences by helping everyone find the best vendors, venues and event professionals, all on one platform.
Birgit Thümecke is co-founder and CEO of Eventerprise.com, a global marketplace platform that connects event organizers with event professionals as well as vendors of event-related products, services, and venues. As a recipient of a Stevie Award for Women in Business she is committed to building a world-class distributed organization that serves all its stakeholders with growing value.
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