Founders Forum 2012
I was lucky enough to spend last Thursday and Friday at Founders Forum, a network set up by Brent Hoberman and Johnnie Goodwin seven years ago. Founders Forum brings together tech founders from across Europe. It started in a small room with about 50 people – I remember arriving, wobbling in (as I was still using 2 sticks) and being totally overwhelmed upon meeting Nikolas Zenstromm, founder of Skype. Now the event is one of the hottest on the tech calendar with around 180 founders participating as well as a parallel session for rising star entrepreneurs.
It was a fabulous couple of days – there was so much energy in the room and so much optimism. Entrepreneurs, passionate in the belief that the world can be made better and that innovation is the key to progress make for a crazy buzz in a room. I particularly enjoyed a great discussion between Tim Berners–Lee and Hermann Hauser about the next phase of the internets development. A treat to listen. And the funny Code Club video (click here to watch).
Although I still feel frustrated that there are not more women in the room – it was very encouraging how many more there were in the rising stars and new talent parts of the event. Perhaps the culture is changing, slowly, very slowly… By far the most extraordinary woman I met was Leila Velez from Brazil. She started a hair salon after creating a hair product to calm crazy brazilian hair. The stark difference in this womans story was that she created the product for low income households and came from a very tough background herself. The company is now generating revenues of $75m and she is a force of nature.
Check out her story if you want inspiration to do anything that feels tricky!