SW Women’s Edition: A Male Perspective

The following is a guest post by Kevin Straszburger, who attended the SW Singapore Women’s Edition event. 

A few weeks ago I took part of the first Startup Weekend Women’s Edition event in Singapore. If I had to resume my experience in one sentence right now: it was super-super-cool.

Lets start with the facts. It was organised by 4 amazing women: EmilyMailaLachimi and Gina and it took place at a great co-working space: The Hub. We heard from Vanessa that there were 60 participants and 60% of those were women, which seems to be true when I think about it. Indeed I’ve had the feeling to be surrounded by women.
If you’re curious about the ideas that were pitched during the weekend I invite you to read these two posts from insiders on Sgentrepreneurs and e27.  I’m gonna stay focused here on my impressions as a man lost in the middle of women-power! I attended some Startup Weekends in the past, mostly in France. The first one was in Lille from which I launched my first venture (so yes I can say now, “it happens”). Then I was involved in Paris as a “mentor.” This one had a special focus on “social entrepreneurship,” which led to great ideas too.
I don’t know if women are the cause of this, but I noticed some big differences between the atmosphere here and the atmosphere in my previous Startup Weekends in France. One thing for sure is the impact of the organizing team on the structure of the event (and of course, the geographical impact).
  • For example, in Lille it’s a student society from an engineering school which organizes the event. The result is: more engineers compared to other weekends elsewhere (which is great), a students-age on average, and a majority of men.
  • In Paris, it was quite similar even if there were a little bit more people and a bigger diversity in terms of women/men, business/developers/designers, youths/adults etc…
Here in Singapore, there were 60% of women, a majority of business/marketing profiles, and an age range from 20 to 50 years old, which was really interesting to see. There were women in at least every team. For example, in ours, we were 5 people, 3 guys and 2 women, I should say 2 aunties, which was such a good experience. Of course we talked about a new way to connect neighbors to each others, having 2 local women with us was so powerful due to their local experience.
As a matter of fact, and even if I really don’t like such a distinction, I’ve to recognize that women don’t take things with the same angle than men. And I regret a lot to not work more in my daily life with women because this initial different approach is very powerful in terms of business, community, human beings, purpose and so on.
For this event, I have to say that I completely forgot that Startup Weekend is a competition initially. This time it was more about an experience to work all together. A moment to share, a melting pot of ideas and people to empower yourself and make you evolve and think better.
That’s why at the end, during our final presentation in front of the judges, like a recognition to all women during this weekend, I wanted to wear a wig and a skirt. The experience was cool, I felt completely naked, and so vulnerable. It’s weird to feel this but I was happy. I was personally educated by a mum so I’ve always been impressed by this faculty for women to deal with such a huge amount of things, to manage all in once and succeed to move forward.
I felt sometimes the same spirit here when I saw a 8-month pregnant woman working with us, when I heard a team full of women trying to find a balanced solution because ultimately everybody has to agree (which is a fun thing because it’s not really appropriate with the time period of the event and maybe the entrepreneurial mind in general which has to take decisions fast).
So, congrats to all of you. Keep in mind that the majority of men out there love you and want you to be empowered. And I wish that such an event with a women-oriented spirit (but still an open-minded way with men of course) develops and grows everywhere around the world.