Founder and CEO at Demodesk
FFM-Team: You worked in the consulting sector for a long time, but also gained some experience at Outfittery. What motivated you to start your own business and what do you do at Demodesk?
Veronika: Actually, even before I worked in the consulting sector, I knew that what I really wanted to do was help set up a software company – either as a founder or an early employee. I derive enormous amounts of energy from creating things and for me software is the most exciting industry there is.
I then met my co-founder who came up with the idea of developing a new way of screen sharing. Our intelligent meeting tool for customer interaction helps companies to make their processes more efficient. Our solution is entirely web-based and allows you to share specific content with someone via a virtual display.
FFM-Team: You have recently raised capital: How did you go about this and how do you present your startup to potential investors?
Veronika: That’s right, we successfully completed a financing round some time ago. We participated in the Y Combinator program in Silicon Valley from early January to March 2019 and did our seed round right afterwards. That was without doubt a very special opportunity because at the Y Combinator Demo Day you present your company to virtually all the key investors in the Valley. So the process is really focused and it is a fantastic opportunity. In your pitch you should focus on the three most important messages. That’s all anyone can really take in – even in other talks. In our case, we focused on our unique screen sharing technology, the market potential, and our traction, i.e. the customers already acquired.
FFM-Team: You just mentioned Y Combinator. What did you get out of the program and would you recommend other founders to apply?
Veronika: I would recommend it 100 percent. In my opinion, it’s the most helpful accelerator in the world if you‘re ready for the US market. During your time there, you learn to focus and can build up a fantastic network of potential clients and investors. Y Combinator branding also helps with new customer acquisition and recruiting.
FFM-Team: Female founders like you are still a rarity in Germany – they currently only account for 16% of startups. What do you see as the biggest challenges for women in the startup sector?
Veronika: I suspect that women tend to underestimate themselves more often and are
more risk-averse than men. In some cases they also communicate more cautiously. In addition, there are also fewer women with a background in technology and STEM subjects. Family is certainly also an important aspect. A lot of people start their businesses in their late 20s and this often coincides with family planning. As a mother, I know that it can work, but it is also a challenge.
FFM-Team: What would you wish for in the German startup ecosystem?
Veronika: I would like to see more willingness to take risks and for people in Germany to think big more often. While people in Germany are often very cautious, Americans are mainly interested in the size of the potential market. Overall, however, we also need greater acceptance of failure – especially in the early stages. Better networks must be created and better access to capital.