International Women's Day: female founders are future made in Hamburg

Hamburg Startup Unit is scaling up support for women looking to launch a business

International Women's Day: female founders are future made in Hamburg

“Anyone wishing to launch a business is in good hands in Hamburg,” says Tarek Müller (32), and he should definitely know: born in the innovative district of Harburg, Müller started his first business venture at the age of 13 and, years later, launched About You, Hamburg's first unicorn startup, with the support of the Otto Group. In Hamburg, the future is built on tradition. And yet, according to Tarek Müller, there is still a shortage of female founders. And indeed, recent figures for all of Germany confirm that only 15.7 percent of new enterprises were launched by women. In Hamburg, this share is not much different: the city is currently home to almost 1,300 startups, and only 15.3 percent of these have a female managing director – albeit with a slight upward trend. Veronika Reichboth, head of the Startup Unit at Hamburg Invest, explains: “When it comes to founding as such, women are quite well-represented today. However, in the area of knowledge- und technology-based startups, there is a lot of room for improvement in Germany. In academia, women are significantly under-represented in information and communication technology as well as other technology-based degree programmes, and this trend translates into fewer women starting up their own business.”

In an effort to bridge this gap, the Hamburg Startup Unit has joined forces with other German startup hotspots. Initiated by the cities of Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne and Munich in the autumn of 2020, the #FemupStartups initiative is aimed at boosting the share of female founders and investors in Germany’s startup community.

These four cities now jointly organise events and campaigns to raise awareness among the general public. In addition, they create and support a number of formats for women who are interested in starting a business, which are then hosted by various organisations from the regional startup networks.

In Hamburg, the following events are scheduled for 2021:

STARTERiN (Hamburg Startups)
As part of the STARTERiN award, stakeholders from Hamburg’s startup community have the opportunity to appoint Hamburg’s best female founder. Votes can be submitted until the end of April. The aim of this cross-sectoral award is to improve the visibility of women who are shaping Hamburg’s future, to connect them with relevant decision-makers and investors, and to highlight how female and how diverse Hamburg’s startup ecosystem really is.

Ladies Dinner (German Innovation)
Bringing together female entrepreneurs, multipliers and business leaders, the Ladies Dinner is aimed at promoting exchange and communication at eye level and at strengthening women’s networks in a sustainable manner. The event takes place annually and was last held digitally on 25 November 2020.

Female StartAperitivo
The Female StartAperitivo will be launched on 18 November 2021 on the occasion of Women's Entrepreneurship Day. Jointly hosted by IFB Innovationsstarter, WEstartupSH and the Hamburg Startup Unit, this new event format is intended to bridge the gap between networking and financing.   

Walk the Talk – Gender Diversity in Startups
“Walk the Talk” is an interactive panel hosted by the cities of Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne and Munich. Premiering on International Women's Day 2021, this coming Monday at 11 am, participants will be discussing gender diversity in the context of the startup sector.

Female-founded startups continue to be under-represented in Germany and abroad. At the same time, Hamburg is home to many successful startup businesses established by women, including the following:

ai-omatic solutions
Supporting companies across all industries, ai-omatic solutions is active in the area of data science, with a special focus on automatic text recognition – a feature that is employed e.g. in social analytics, knowledge management and predictive maintenance. The company has been supported as part of Hamburg’s InnoFounder programme, and Lena Weirauch is one of the co-founders.

A digital farmer’s market, Frischepost was established in Hamburg and is now available in several other locations across Germany. The company connects regional farmers and food producers with end customers in the locality. For each location there is one transshipment warehouse, where goods are compiled and packed. Featuring their own IT platform, Frischepost is able to cut out some of the traditional levels of trade. Producers can set prices at their own discretion, allowing them to ensure the sustainability of their business. Frischepost was founded by Juliane Willing und Eva Neugebauer.

Established in Hamburg in 2016, this company derives its name from “miracle” and “mind”. With Sofia Gertzen as one of the co-founders, Miraminds develop smart solutions for sharing software-related knowledge quickly and easily. Products include e.g. FlowShare, a documentation software that provides users with automatically generated step-by-step instructions. The integration of expert knowledge was subsidised by IFB Hamburg as well as a EU fund.

 is all about women’s health. The company helps women worldwide to monitor their menstruation cycle in a simple, efficient way. The range of available products facilitates anything from birth control to planning pregnancies. Ovy was founded by Eva and Lina Wüller.

These are but a few examples of successful female-founded startups established in Hamburg. In summing up, Veronika Reichboth says: ”The Hamburg Startup Unit takes pride in connecting female founders, media representatives and other strong women. When designing advisory services, events or networking programmes, we always keep a focus on women. Because female founders are future made in Hamburg.”