Keynote by Eline Leijten
Amsterdam, Thursday October 4th 2018, the 6th edition of TheNextWomen Pitch Competition in an international context. Eline Leijten, founder of Plugify and former winner of TheNextWomen Pitch Competition, gave an inspiring keynote during the day of the finals at Epicenter Amsterdam. In her speech, she was not only sharing experiences on winning a former edition of the pitch competition. Eline was critical, very critical. Although she was always a one-of-the-guys kind of girl, she stated:
“There is a difference, and there is a gender funding gap.”
This sense of awareness came forward out of Eline’s experiences in a predominantly male environment, during her studies as well as her first job. After joining a strategic consulting firm with 48 professional staff members amongst whom 4 women including herself. Apart from physiology, there was no significant difference, but there was a gap – as she became aware of this fact, she began to see it as an opportunity instead of a roadblock.
“Yes, there are less tech startups founded by women. But not in the ratio 1.6 to 98.4. And you know what? This is value left on the table.”
Addressing the article published in the Dutch Financial Times that was released recently, Dutch venture capital funds rarely invest in startups led by women. Only 1,6% of VC funded companies are led by women in the Netherlands. The predominant reaction to the article was that there áre less women-led startups in tech. That’s right, but not in the ratio 1.6 to 98.4: described as “value creation left on the table”.
“If we are aware of it, we can signal it, and we can play with it.”
Now, what can we do to change this? Awareness, is the starting point according to Eline. When we are aware of the issue, we can register the very subtle signals when we get them, and act on the spot. “If we are aware of it, we can signal it, and we can play with it”. As a society we are situated in the middle of a paradigm shift. This shift should be seen as an opportunity, rather than a roadblock. It’s an opportunity for value creation.
“When we all, men and women alike, are open to look beyond
our own perspectives and invest in each other, true magic will happen.”
When women invest in women, amazing things happen. Absolutely, Eline states, we’ve seen it during the finals of our pitch competition, during the top 100 diner and during all of the other TheNextWomen events. But we should all believe that in the long run, when we all, men and women alike, are open to look beyond our own perspective and invest in each other, true magic will happen.