Why a "Top 100 Women In Tech In Europe" list matters.

A dear friend texted me with a simple "congrats on the Girls In Tech listing". My answer while being ironically isolated with no wifi, in a rural hemisphere was "what - where". The good news turned out to be that I was one out of the "Top 100 Women In Tech In Europe", initiated by Girls in Tech London.

We are all suckers for recognition - I am no exception, so I was of course happy to be in the company of so many fine ladies, selected in 19 countries across Europe. But the thrill that lasted longer and turned into this post is not my delighted ego, but the fact that Girls In Tech London bothered to put focus on all the great women, that actually are in tech.

But why is that important? For one, tech conference organizers often complain that it is so hard to find female tech speakers - well now they have a list of 100 to call. Second is the negative rhetoric often emphasized by a "Why aren't there more women in tech?"conference panel - well if this is top 100 and the top of the ice berg, maybe we should rephrase - here are some of the many savvy women in tech. Third and last (for now), common awareness of women in tech, might spread so more human beings with two X chromosomes, gets an urge to rent out their living room on AirBnb - so they can bootstrap a startup.

Last but not least I want to thank Girls in Tech London for the initiative, for the jury who put me in such fine company, and last Mike Butcher for his support for women in tech in general and for his coverage of the list on Techcrunch!

And here is the list!

Post by Natasha

Photo credit: flickr.com/vestman

Konfect le launch - cross network connect

konfect Today we launch Konfect - a service that makes it easy for you through one interface, to find, explore and connect with people across your communities. Search by entering the persons common username, profile link or real name, and Konfect will show your new contacts social networks.

The person you are searching for does not have to be signed up on Konfect. As long as the persons social networks uses friendly microformats, Konfect can list the services used by that person.

The idea came from attending conferences, receiving numerous names and business cards, with the need to convert your new contacts into online connections - leading to the name KONFerence connECT.

Konfect is solving the problem of finding a contact on multiple communities. Before Konfect you had to search for the person on every single relevant community, or go through pages of Google search, either way time consuming.

Konfect has been in closed beta since September 2009, and with our public launch we offer easy search and connect. Konfect is produced by Webcom Labs, which plans more convenient cross-network features in the future - and to speed that process up, we are in the search for funding.

We launch in connection with LeWeb, making it easy for you to expand your network. I will be at LeWeb, if you want to meet or Konfect.

Jam session startups

jamsession When a jazz band gather for a jam session it is all about improvising based on experience, skills and creativity. They are focused on the opportunities that arises from the chord chart (the frame that defines the rhythm and harmonic). They sense, they listen, they collaborate while creating unique unpredictable art.

Based on the same principles we create jam session startups, meaning that we set a course and we gather the perfect team of highly skilled people. We do not create an agenda or agreements, but we focus, do our best, sense and listen to our users. We collaborate on creating unique, unpredictable and user driven startups.

What happens when we skip the business plan, the agreements and the technical specifications? It is simple - we execute, learn and improve. Instead of a business plan, we set an overall strategy i.e. our course, set up milestones and deadlines, and we take these very seriously. Our deadlines makes us prioritize and fight the perfectionist part of us, that want´s to launch a perfect service, which will never happen.

I have tried both ways of running a startup, but somehow the more effort I put into planning, structure and great business plans, the less I achieve. The reason is that I miss out on spontaneity, which in many cases are the best source for innovation.

When we build Mentory, we knew that we should launch a basic version i.e. no Rolls Royce to start with, but instead sense the adaption while listening to our users. In the past three months since we launched, we have learned lessons and gotten ideas that couldn´t have been predicted up front. The journey is also much more exciting, we know our course but we do not know where it will take us a long the way, and in the end - it is all about Jazz.

3 elements of behavior on successful social sites

What make users spend so much time on social sites? What do we get in return and why are we so much more open online? I am probably not the only one asking these questions.  My observation is that 3 elements motivate us:

Curiosity. Have you ever spent time exploring profiles of strangers? It is somehow a core instinct - we just cannot help looking through the profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. Which must be the answer to why (mainly women) buy gossip magazines. 

Profiling is the answer to why we don't mind sharing pictures and thoughts that we probably would not share with strangers in offline life. Suddenly we are able to show a side of our self, and in that way promote our personality across circles.

Recognition. Some believe we are driven by money, power and/or recognition. Recognition is exactly what we get when we suddenly have +200 friends or followers. Being followed or invited gives us status in the community. By the end of the day we just want to fit in, having a purpose in life and get recognized for our contribution. We are suddenly able to benchmark our popularity among friends, colleagues and people we dig. 

So how can your start-up benefit from this? 

Exposing your users with pictures, tags, short descriptions gives fellow users a teaser for reading more - driven by curiosity.

With an ocean of spectators we have the opportunity to stand out, revealing our self in new ways. So give your users the ability to profile them self as individuals, thinkers, believers and helpers to the community.

Most of us (if not all) needs recognition and that is why this element is so vital, encouraging us to spent hours participating on the community, sharing information and networking. So make sure your users contribution gets recognized by the community.

Obviously these elements cannot stand alone, you still need a dynamic and brilliant service, but if you do not support natural behavior, you might become a bit lonely on your community. I pay attention to these factors on Mentory and our other services, trying to hit that perfect balance.

I believe this is also the fault of many Inter/Intranets. Organizations are puzzled why their employees or customers are not generating content, knowledge sharing and participating.  Try to ask - what is in it for them?

Crossroads

September 5th 2008 I decided to quit my job as CEO at Socialsquare for various reasons. Although it was difficult to pull the brake and leave a team of wonderful people, the instant feeling of relief and happiness proved it was the right decision.

Closing one door opens another. My husband Jacob Friis Saxberg and I have always worked with ideas for web startups. We have tried to launch them while having full time jobs, but this was not the road to success I can reveal. So after returning from a 4 months trip to Thailand with our kids back in 2007, we got this crazy idea to sell everything, cut expenses and move into our summerhouse in the north of Denmark - Skagen, to focus completely on our startups. We took the first steps in January 2008 but we cancelled the plans because I joined Socialsquare instead.

It did not take us long to resume our plans - to create simple & successful web startups - while dedicating ourselves to our two wonderful toddlers.

We have calculated the risk, if we don´t succeed we will have a dept but our whole life to pay it back, knowing that we tried and we had an unforgettable time with our kids. If we succeed - and we will - the sky is the limit. So what ever happens for the next 2 years it is a win-win. 

Also I have decided to enter my second matrimony with Jacob, joining Webcom ApS as a co-owner. Jacob founded Webcom in 1996, and has made online services for a decade including www.eksperten.dk (sold to IDG Denmark in 2002). With our complementary skills - we are a perfect match. The strategy is created and so are the todos.

Look out for our firstborn in February 2009 - it is coming to a browser near you!