Shenzhen - Hub for Entrepreneurship Hosts 1st Women Only Startup Weekend APAC
This Friday evening when most of us were rushing out of our offices to meet friends for dinner or to get to some party or perhaps just laze around on the couch with our favorite movie and take-out food, the female entrepreneurs of Shenzhen were hurrying to get to their own exclusive event; the first women only Startup Weekend APAC.
A 54-hour workshop organized by the women for the women, aimed at empowering these highly ambitious souls with enough knowledge, skills,and tools for them to be able to take the leap and turn their genius ideas into a startup.
This was the second Startup Weekend APAC event held in Shenzhen and the first of its kind that was for only women.
The event was organized by 6 amazing women from different walks of life:
Alla Diasamidze – A Georgian who when couldn’t find an outlet for what seems like an infinite amount of energy in her previous resident country Russia, decided to come to the hyperactive city of Shenzhen. Alla with her fluent Chinese and expertise in International China relations helps one of the biggest Chinese outdoor media factories manage international client relationships and sales and marketing.
Emma Huang–Emma is just addicted to the energy in the startup community. While during the day she works with HAX Accelerator, the world’s largest hardware startup accelerator, in her spare time she likes to organize startup events to help others learn and grow.
Livia Lian – A marketing executive for Currencies Direct; a British financial solution company. Livia has several ideas for her own startup and wants to gain more knowledge and experience by volunteering at such startup events.
Markey Tan–Markey first got hooked to the world of startups after she organized the WeChat marketing workshop in Thailand. From there she would go on to become the co-founder of China Channel and the managing director of La Wagon. Every time I organize a startup event, I learn something new, says the task juggling Markey.
Freya Yuan – A freelance graphic designer who worked for over 3 years with the Design Society but when the scales of balance between the bureaucracy and creativity started tipping the wrong way, she decided to forge her own way. So far, she is very happy with her decision, says Freya.
Crystal Lei–A winner of Startup weekend Shenzhen, held earlier this year in April, Crystal just loves the feeling of community and the energy of startup weekend events and wants to keep giving back by continuing to help organize more of these events. When not spending time with her fellow aspiring entrepreneurs, she works has an interpreter for a non-profit education foundation.
Their aim, to learn by helping others learn.
The event started on 7th September Friday at around 6:30 pm at the new WeWork location in Shekou with a hearty dinner sponsored by FO Salads and Cake factory. Even the greatest of minds can’t work on empty stomachs. Once fueled up, the facilitator started with some icebreaking activities that sneakily blended into the formation of 7 teams.
Over the next 20 to 22 hours, ideas were pitched; some accepted, some voted down, projects were discussed and these super charged teams went on to finish their market research and product/project design. They made their business plans, presentation and some even had rough financial models prepared with the help 5 mentors who have walked the walk not so long ago and now wanted to share their experiences with others.
Cecile Israel – The lover of wine and ratatouille has her own wine company; Easy Bacchus and will be launching an app to learn, discover and order wine online soon. Having experience at running a one woman show, Cecile, a Jill of all trades, had a lot to offer to the participants.
Nausheen Ishtiaq Chen – A filmmaker from Pakistan who learned and honed her skills in New York. Nausheen has her own filmmaking company; Zen and Zany. She wanted to teach the participants about the power of all things visual in marketing.
Danlynn Liang – An architect turned entrepreneur, Danlynn was asked by her professor to join his startup; Tezign back in 2013. Later, while working with Huawei, Danlynn found her creativity and ideas either getting lost or being squashed by the hierarchical world of cooperate. That’s when it became clear to her that it is an entrepreneur’s life for her. Danlynn wants to encourage the women to not to be scared of the failure but learn from it and then try again.
Ayu Putri – An expert in marketing technology, Ayu Putri has over 8 years of experience working with telecommunication giants like OPPO and TCL communications. While she joined the good cause to learn while teaching others, Ayu was amazed by the amount of raw talent in the room. ‘The only person who can help you grow is yourself’ were the few words of wisdom she wants to part to all women.
Rachel Zhao Rui – A well known personality in the entrepreneurial community of Shenzhen and possibly China, the founder of HER, Rachel needs no introduction. With over 10 years of experience in creative marketing with LKK design group, Rachel and her partner-in-crime Wenjuan Lao believe in the strength of women and emphasize on a balanced work and personal life.
9th September Sunday, as the time to present their projects drew near, the participants couldn’t help but wear their emotions on their sleeves. The room became a melting pot of excitement, anxiety, self-doubt, nerves, and even anxiousness. A certain somebody even had a nervous breakdown and it took over half an hour to convince her that it’s not about winning but learning.
One of the participants Salome Kobalia said that she thought the event will be a series of lectures and presentations but was pleasantly surprised that it was less talk and all about learning by doing.
7 great pitches out of which 2 received validation; a customized dating outfit design for women and a bilingual website for renting and leasing apartments. Tutorai was announced the winner of the event. They would now go on to competing with winners of others cities in China and if the lady luck favors them will be travelling to Bali to present their project on a global level.
Once all was said and done, the participants got the opportunity to network, mingle and have one on one conversation with the organizers, mentors, and judges;
Daniella Santana, an entrepreneur, LinkedIn trainer and founder of concept express.
Juana Lee, a partner at Female Entrepreneur Worldwide (FEW), President of China BGM natural education, founder of Singapore Far Vision consultant and Chief Editor of soon-to-launch Her Voice.
Carol Wang, investment Vice President at Innohub Capital
Saravanakumar Kandasamy, Co-founder of Madrasters, OKTVMedia and Shenzhen blog
And Tina Zhu, an eco-innovation and cross-border innovation specialist and General Manager at Arm Accelerator.
Rosy (last name not known), one of the members of the winning team said that even though it was her first startup weekend and she came here without any expectations, she was delighted to experience the positive environment and managed to learn from her fellow participants and mentors.
I was myself pleasantly surprised to see such a huge turnout. I would have never imagined that female entrepreneurs have such a strong presence in Shenzhen. I look forward to attending more of these events and meeting many of these full of wonder women.
Written by: Priyanka Sharma
If you're interested in other such events, check out the up-coming Female entreprenurs Day this Sunday September 16th at the Hilton Shenzhen Shekou Nanhai Hotel.