Guest article by Pedro Ferreira
In the first articles of our series “A Woman Who Inspires” we introduced you to Luisa El Bouyahyani from LuBu, Almaz Andezion founder of Ivory Cosmetics , Nadia Doukali from Honeyletter and Imme Scheit from YAY. Together with Women Who Inspire Rhein Main we are now sharing the full interviews done during the article for International Women´s day: Female Entrepreneurship on the right track? Today we present Silke Kopp — serial entrepeneur and Miss Hessen 2020.
I read a quote from you, last year, saying: “I want to be a role model for other women” – can you elaborate?
What I have often noticed is that we women sometimes don’t dare to leave our comfort zone and thus miss valuable opportunities. I left the “safe haven” by becoming self-employed. Nevertheless, I regularly try to challenge myself with new experiences. Most recently through the Miss Germany contest. If I had not applied, I would never have been voted Miss Hessen 2020.
How was the overall experience to be enrolled at Miss Germany Contest?
The fact that I took part in Miss Germany was a crazy idea and also a coincidence, because: if they hadn’t changed their concept, in which the personality and history of a woman is in the foreground, I would probably never have applied. The hashtag “empowering authentic Woman” is all about authenticity. The experiences I had were therefore just as exciting for the misses as for the Miss Germany Corporation itself.
The most beautiful experience was to spend 3 weeks with 16 different types of women. I have never seen so much support, affirmation, kindness and helpfulness in one place. We women can learn a lot from this. We should act according to the push and pull principle: motivate each other (push) and recommend each other (pull). Moreover, we have not only learned with each other but also from each other. One insecurity I brought to the Miss Germany Camp was posing in front of the camera. Now one or the other rolls his eyes, but this has not only to do with modelling but with the appearance of a person. Take a pitch on stage as an example. If you are confident in your appearance and aware of your movements, the more it underlines your message. The same applied to the catwalk training, which in my opinion should simply be called running training.
You have surely noticed one or the other person who has slumped down. As soon as you stretch your back, drop your shoulder to the back and stick out your chest, something moves. You get better air, feel more self-confident and that is exactly what you carry to the outside.
If you could change something in our startup ecosystem, what would it be?
I would celebrate the error culture more. Fortunately, I notice that in the course of a new culture of innovation in Germany, more and more companies have the courage to leave gaps and a culture of failure is more accepted. Only with such a mindset can innovation be created. Following on from this, topics such as funding will also be discussed. We still have too little venture capital in Germany. Investments in early stage startups are only made hesitantly. Many great ideas that might have had the chance to grow into a well-functioning company with a stable business model are dying.
What are your next ventures?
Now I use my time fully and completely for my new startup. Only at the beginning of this year I co-founded Health&Bits GmbH and am currently developing a learning software for trainees in nursing. The aim is to find new ways of learning new content (keyword: education analytics). At the same time I share my experiences as a speaker in lectures (out of the comfort zone 😉 ). At the end of March, for example, you can hear me at the conference on the continuation of the Digital Hessen strategy.
How did you experience the Corona crisis?
In the beginning – already two weeks before the lockdown began – the situation was very challenging, for two reasons: First, it was still unclear, how the virus would act in our bodies. Second, most companies stopped talking to us, even though we had already begun negotiations. We didn’t know how long this situation would last. A lot of companies and startups felt a certain discomfort due to that.
Which challenges did you face and how did you manage them?
The greatest challenge was to remain calm. We only managed to do that, when maiLab was able to clearly communicate the current situation of the pandemic and its possible future development. We then just continued to work and switched to working on the phone and FaceTime. We were also able to spot new chances. We have, for example, digitalized our training for practial instructors. It actually wasn’t our plan to integrate these topics into our training software. The pancemic however forced us to. Briefly, I’d say: like the chinese character for pandemic, perspectives for companies are also made up of two character treats: Danger and opportunity.