Sometimes you just have to jump

Hannah – April 2018

It is really happening..! We will soon and finally open the first space. Without this great team, it could not have been possible!

It’s been a bit more than a year now since we had the idea of opening a coworking space with flexible, private childcare.

What’s happened since? Some changes happened very quickly. Within hours, the coworking space with childcare turned into the idea of a space exclusively for women. Other changes, as significant as the business idea, took a bit longer: the team. The “we” changed from two women to three and then to one again. And back to three. I honestly underestimated the importance of the team when founding your own business. It’s easier to get around certain issues, topics, and compromises if you are employed, work in a big team, or have structures already implemented. The core team of the founding process is a different thing.

The first “we” agreed on the idea, the business model, we even wrote down our vision and values of work, everyday life, etc. It seemed as if we agreed on the important things. Then my former partner brought another friend into the team. The fact that it was actually a friend of hers created this big imbalance. I really didn’t expect that. But it just didn’t really fit. At what levels? Personal? I don’t claim to be friends with all the people I work with. But I’d love to go out for a drink with them. Respect, understanding – you can have all that. But sometimes it just doesn’t fit. And in the end, the business idea was too different in decisive details. Even though the vision and the big goal were the same, the path and the approach were so different that when the former co-founder had the chance to realize herself in other projects, she took it. The third of the group was already at the end of her parental leave. We knew that if we couldn’t pay her a salary in a timely manner, she’d get a job. And she found one.

And so, from one day to the next, I was the whole team. That is one thing. But the fact that I would leave for enpact’s startup camp the next day was added strain. I was thinking, “CoWomen is at the end – how am I supposed to stand there and convey an idea about a strong community if my own team doesn’t even manage to stick together.” The camp was starting, and in three weeks the final round of the ebay Startup Cup would take place, and we had reached the top 7. “How am I supposed to do that?!” I thought again. There were still half-hearted promises from the former team to stand on stage and support at least at the Cup.

I cried that night. And with tears in my eyes, I went to the station the next day to meet the other enpact fellows. A little pile of misery. And one thing I can say: This was the beginning of one of the best weeks of last year! But I’ll write about it in detail another time.

For the week after the startup camp I organized a small meet-up of CoWomen at my home. There were four of us. Kat, a young woman with great ideas and a lot of expertise. And Nadine, my best friend, who was only there to support me. Then Sara, who accompanied us virtually on the screen and could not enjoy any of the healthy snacks that my husband – CoWomen’s greatest supporter – had prepared. By the way, he applies for membership almost weekly. He thinks we’re so great, he wants to be a part of it. He is now teaching our son Henry to say, “CoWomen! CoWomen!” and clap his hands.

And so it happened that Sara and Kat jumped in on the deep end and pushed CoWomen forward with incredible courage. In the beginning it was almost only about the competition and the appearance there. We could hardly breathe deeply and achieved so much more in those two weeks to the Cup than in all the months before!

Without Sara and Kat, CoWomen would not exist anymore. Without them we would not be opening our first club in three weeks. We can count an unbelievable number of wonderful people among our supporters, have great mentors around us who have brought us all this far, no question. But nobody was as essential as this team that we have now grown into together. With ups and downs, no question. My impatience, which not only made it hard for me but also the team at times. It will then still take until mid-February before we sign the shareholder agreement. Now we are a company! Well, soon. We were in such a hurry, because we did everything in between, in lunch breaks, after work, before the next events, that we couldn’t even celebrate it properly.

And then? Only then did the miracle happen! The day after the shareholder agreement was signed, we sat with one of our great supporters in the evening and only then did we realize that we wanted to do something for young women, for women on the rise. Not for all women or women who are already well established in their careers. We would like to support.

We knew early on that we wanted to take off with CoWomen and believed in the idea of offering something special for women that didn’t really exist yet: the Club, the physical space. This small change in our idea has many great consequences. New doors are opening and partnerships are already developing.

I am grateful that we have found each other as a team and will soon open the first CoWomen Pop-Up. And only recently we found Alicia and Alexa, who support us actively! So glad to have them on board.

I am so proud that we just kept on walking, even if the light was sometimes very far away.

Sometimes you just have to jump…

Oh, and that is actually the blanket I am knitting right now.