Tech-Savvy Women Play a Large Part in LeWeb 2009

leweb event imageLeWeb 2009 was yet another interesting web event, gathering a very international crowd of over 2,000 people, from which just over 350 were women. The location was exquisite, the heating system was working and although the food was far from the quality you’d expect in France, there was plenty of it for everyone.

The NextWomen Meetup

The event kicked-off with a NextWomen meetup on Wednesday morning. Organised along with the help of Pamela Poole, the gathering attracted some very interesting women from across the World.  Among others were: Aleksandra Enea and Mihaela Draghici from Romania, who launched the World Blogging Forum - an international event for Bloggers set to run every November in Bucharest - earlier this year.  Their event, that covered all topics from eCommerce to eDemocracy, hosted 30 VIP speakers from across the World, including Zola from China and other virtual celebrities from Egypt, Georgia and Israel, who presented to over 150 Romanian Bloggers. The major purpose of the event is to change people’s perception of Romania in the rest of the World and get the local players more engaged in the international web arena.

Mihaela and Aleksandra
Mihaela and Aleksandra outlined how Romanian entrepreneurial women often become project managers for other companies versus starting they own business due to lack of access to funding, and little personal savings. In comparison, men have historically made more money in their careers, and as a result tend to have more capital to start companies than women.

Serial Blogger Myriam Rosenrib quickly introduced them to some of France’s most influential Bloggers, helping them make the most of the event right from the beginning.

Some of the women that joined our NextWomen meetup at LeWeb included:
•    Alexandra Enea from Romania - – Looking to network and partner with international fashion and other women-related industries and entrepreneurs.
•    Despina Bakirti from Greece – – Manager of the Girls Geek Dinners and an expert web marketeer, looking to support women to launch more businesses in Greece.
•    Isabelle Gally from France– – Engaged in supporting female entrepreneurs in France, looking to facilitate more exchanges between French women and their peers in Europe.
•    Johana Sabroux from France – – Who just launched her subscription based media newsletter with a commercial/marketing background partner whom she met in a networking event 1 year ago.
•    Manuela Semenzin from Italy – – Relationship manager for Business Wire in France, connecting with various people in the industry.
•    Mihaela Draghici from Romania– &, looking to raise awareness of WBF and improve Romania’s perception in the international web arena.
•    Myriam Rosenrib from France – – Used to think what she had to write was uninteresting to the rest of the World, but was told by friends and peers to write more. Her “cultural blog” soon showed her passion for Mobile and she is now a serious serial blogger – If you want to connect with people in France, she’s your woman.
•    Pamela Poole from San Diego – & -  She is now supporting the NextWomen with interviews and articles from France - She started a network for people who share her passion and knowledge of the francophone culture everywhere in the World.
•    Rachael Depp from LA, USA – – Looking to monetise her website with more than 10,000 visitors per month – Her hosting provider offered her a custom iPhone app.

Cloud Computing, Social Media and Mobile Were the Top Buzz Words

Sokos startup competitionThe buzz words at LeWeb were definitely “cloud computing”, “social media” and “mobile”, with most panels and presentations revolving around twitter, facebook, Google and iPhone apps. The buzz words were clearly evident in the start-up competition, with social media platform for shops Storific who aim to help small shops leverage online social media, third place winner cloud assessment software Cloudsplit looking to raise US$2M to penetrate the US market, and live auction platform Sokos who are developing mobile apps to maximise auction coverage.

Although all start-ups nominated in the competition were men-founded and -led, this year we saw a woman present in the competition for the 1st time: Russian Web and Mobile financial transactions platform liqpay was presented by Kristina Chaiykovskaya, Business development manager.

Gender Inequality, but Nonetheless Worthy of Noting

Despite the usual gender inequality, there were definitely some start-ups worthy of a mention: social network builder Software as a Service Stribe won the first place, followed by facebook Marketing App Tigerlily. And although they didn’t win any prizes in the competition, Kukunu were surprisingly refreshing for their travel planning platform that will soon be helping us with easy and cost effective holiday planning.

An International Panel

Marc Simoncini
One very interesting panel held with successful entrepreneurs from various countries, including Marc Simoncini from France(Meetic) & Martin Varsavsky from Spain and Argentina(FON) discussed the challenges faced by European start-ups who struggle to compete with American web companies due to their much larger and uniform audience, the future impact of China on the web and the critical need for government support to attract funding and stimulate growth for local start-ups.

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah

During the second day of the event Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan called all people present and their vast online networks to think

Queen Rhania at LeWeb
about the opportunity at hand to help the World. Her humanitarian outlook on the web differed yet complemented all other speakers’ business insights and discussions. While most of us look for ways to leverage the internet to grow businesses, Queen Rania is using the web and its social networks to bring “real time change” to the World’s “real time problems and challenges”.

She is not only driving awareness of her cause for education and her programme 1Goal by the means of twitter, YouTube and Facebook, she’s also successfully using the web to educate its millions of users on the importance of education, and how they can help the offline world in the digital space. She was not only one of the most acclaimed speakers at the event, she was by far one of the most inspiring: she most certainly convinced the crowd that in 2010 and beyond, “livestreaming will be life-changing”.

I had a fun time at the Next Women meetup! Great to meet you at LeWeb! Thanks for the awesome post! :)

Female profile at LeWeb

I tuned in to the livestream at the end of Cloudsplit, participated in the online chat and listened to the final hours of LeWeb from the comfort of my desk in the UK. How cool is that! However; The panel discussions that unfolded were shockingly and blindly all male. At first I wondered if there were any women there at all but flicking through the on demand stored streams I did see a couple of women presenters. Congratulation to them.

LeWeb Europe Group Gentlemen, if you are reading this your arrogance needs a sharp slap from a good women! (Play back the stream ladies you will get my drift if you watch the intro)

Do I want a Female LeWeb? or LaWeb as it became known in the online chat! No... female lead? maybe. I am opposed to "all women" events and networks and favour female delegations to mainstream events and networks instead. I have been aware of your organisation for sometime now but the explicitly female connotation niggles me. I do my best work when in a mixed gender team and flourish even further in male dominated teams. I have always worked in male heavy organisations.

I was delighted that Geraldine LeMeur was welcomed on stage with her team demonstrating that the backbone of the LeWeb event was a holistic whole. On stage and off stage infrastructure.The delivery team on reflection you will notice had a far better gender balance.

I don't object to men taking the credit due to them as industry innovators I just think we need a little more balance, a little more profile.

I must get along to one of your events. I'm really not at my best when in all female company. But seeing this event I really want to contribute to evening the balance.

Great blog of the event. So pleased you were there.

Thanks for your kind words! It was rewarding and funny to join the NextWomen meetup at LeWeb. Let's keep in touch.

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