#heforshe: An Insight to Female Entrepreneurship in Serbia

Published on:

These days, lots of women are aspiring entrepreneurs in the startup scene which is still dominated by men in leading roles. But the ladies are stepping up in the game, especially in Europe. Check out our insight to female entreprneurship in Serbia with #heforshe.

Serbian „good“ girls stay at home, „bad“ go to bars, but many now go to do business!

Emma Watson’s #heforshe is the way to deal with sexism in eastern Europe.

Winner of StartupLive contest in Novi Sad is InShape with female CEO.

Serbian women are smart and self confident.

Tech people stay off the Belgrade’s nouveau riche & gold diggers street sarcastically nicknamed Silicon Valley.

Earlier this year, I was invited to Startup Live event in Novi Sad, Serbia. Serbia is full of talented people and it is always good to go there.

A few months ago, I made a stupid thing – I sent sexist messages to two women after a tech party in Berlin. I appologized for that the day after. But I was stupid not to say that loud also publicly later. Mike Butcher of Techcrunch rightly wrote „being stupid and wrong is really no way to go through life“ in his article. He also told me „You have to say you will change. And that the industry should change“. He is right. I learned a big lesson, I want to be a better person.

The winner of the startup contest Startup Live in Novi Sad was InShape. The startup’s mission is to bring live, interactive, personalized workouts to anyone, anytime, anywhere. And the fact that the company’s CEO is a woman only proved that Serbian women can find their ways.

The tech industry, and not only in the CEE, is still dominated by men. Sexism is embedded at tech conferences in eastern Europe, and tweets like „the population consists of people and women“ are common … It is good to talk more about women in tech industry. Recently, I had a chat with my friend who works for Google, mainly in eastern Europe. He said tech conference organizers need to invite more women to panels. I agree and believe it is also the job of senior men to tell conference organizers to do so. Let’s do it.

One evening, I was sitting with a senior Serbian tech entrepreneur at the bar Pikova Dama in center of Novi Sad. We were chatting about business and life. We also talked about women in business in Serbia. He said that business in Serbia was very dominated by men. „But things are changing. Serbian women are not only beautiful (see Facebook page Serbian girls or Miss Serbia) but also smart and self-confident. They can find their ways,“ he said. (I am sure that many women would find Serbian men as attractive and handsome, too). However, it it is important not consider gender when you do business, at all.

My friend showed me an article about Andreja Pejic, a Serbia-born supermodel who went through gender transition and now lives in the US. I deeply admire all who have courage to go throug such a change. In the article, Andreja’s mother says “Oh you don’t want to be a woman. It’s so much harder for a woman. You can achieve so much more as a man“. Is that true in Serbia today? I was looking for some business woman in Serbia to help me answer this question. And I found them…

Zoja Kukic is a great networker in Serbia and a freelance writer for StartIT. She shows several stories of successful business women in the tech industry. Recently, she interviewed Jessica Tams from Casual Connect, one of the biggest gaming conferences in the world. Casual Connect picked Belgrade as venue for its event in November when more than 800 game development experts and lovers will come. „After much debate, we decided on the energetic city of Belgrade. It is a must-see location, is easily accessible, and the locals are very welcoming,“ said Jessica.

@WomenInTechRS organize meetings of women in tech community in Serbia that „salute coders, designers, developers, hardworkers“. The group cares about fair balance of women and men at tech events in Serbia. But 50/50 M/F speaker lineups are not yet common even at western European tech conferences…

Sometimes, @WomenInTechRS tweet funny stuff.

Dragana Djermanovic is a member of @WomenInTechRS, is not a hardworking woman but also mother to two daughters Jovana and Nikolina. Dragana is an international strategist, a partner at the consulting firm PRpepper, …. and a rebel with a cause.

Irina Nikolic is a busy woman. She is a cofounder of CyberCity, currently based in Sofia, Bulgaria going through Eleven’s acceleration program. She is a marketing strategist, copywriter, web designer and master-mind behind the project at CyberCity. Besides Cybercity, she’s running her own web hosting business and works as a freelance writer.

In Serbia’s capital city Belgrade, you can live in Silicon Valley. The Silicon Valley nickname of the Strahinjica Bana Street is due to high appearance of beautiful women who frequent the bars in the evening. This is the street where young men and women come to show off their cars, flash their cash, and look their best. One evening, I saw some some men cruising down the street in their luxury cars. But Serbian business women and men I spoke to said they rarely go there and find the name stupid.

It is good to see tech women taking off in the CEE region, and many men supporting that. I will write about women in tech business in my region. I will support business women as mentor. Perhaps, I could use some stories about tech business women from the CEE and publish them in a book.

My main job is to identify the best young companies in central and eastern Europe (CEE) and help them get them funded when they need it– money from business angels or small VCs I work with („smart money & tough love“). As the “money guy” and VC scout, I do not favor women over men. I will treat them equally. I worked with world class female investors and business women and will continue to do so.

Recently, I listened to a speech of Emma Watson, a UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador. She recently launched the “HeForShe”, campaign ‘for men and boys worldwide to advocate an end to gender inequality’. She spoke about the role men have in helping women and girls achieve equal rights, and said that liberating men from stereotypes ultimately benefits women. The role men have in helping women and girls achieve equal rights, and said that liberating men from stereotypes ultimately benefits women. There are many stereotypes in the CEE region. Feminism is not a nice word among men here. Emma is coming up with a different approach. I like it. I signed up the HeForShe campaign. Follow me…

I hope that my stupidity in Berlin will help others. I plan to launch a couple of projects that will help fight sexism in the CEE region (they are and will be communicated via Twitter — @PaulTheBerliner). I will also show some ideas to the new EC commissionaire Vera Jourova (she is also Czech) who has gender equality on her agenda.

And one final observation ….Andreja’s mother was not right. Serbian women can achieve a lot in business today. If I were starting a company in Serbia, I would be happy to have at least one woman as cofounder.

Say yes to #heforshe #sheforhe.