4 min. read

How To Break Into Tech

Get your insider tips from Berlin’s tech Founders from our last Meetup

There may be a few seasonal broken hearts with summer in Berlin slowly but surely coming to an end. But we on the other hand tend to get excited around this time of year because that can only mean one thing – Xena Meetups are back! What better way to celebrate the return of Meetup season than with a panel of four fantastic Founders spilling the tea on how to break into tech?

Hosted in Tier Mobility’s Berlin HQ, we dived straight into the challenges and obstacles Founders in tech experience. There was food, drinks, funky tunes and 360 panoramic views of Berlin. What more could you ask for? Our panel included:

Georgie Smallwood |

CPO & Founder |

Tier Mobility & Auxilia

Maria Meier

Maria Meier |

CTO & Founder |

Phantasma Labs 

Kave Bulambo |

Founder |


Jennifer Phan|

CEO & Founder |


Didn’t make it on the night? Not to worry because we made notes so we can share the key highlights from this truly inspiring event. 

1. The Art Of The Start 

Kicking off the panel discussion was Kave Bulmabo. As a non-technical Founder in tech, she reminded the audience that “you don’t have to be extraordinary to start a tech business, but you need to become a tool to solve a particular problem.” In fact, Meier reinstated this fact by sharing her journey on Entrepreneur First. A program designed for anyone who would like to start a business. All you need is a skill set that will help you succeed and the rest is history. So where do we sign up?

For Phan, founding a business in tech was ignited by a combination of the pandemic, climate change, BLM and Asian Lives Matter. These societal issues inspired her to enter the creator world where she started her own newsletter, Tech For Good. Interviewing creators, journalists, and podcasters, she quickly discovered a need for these entrepreneurs to run their business, see their cash flow and manage their admin. This is what inspired her to start Passionfroot – a company on a mission to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs.

2. Disciplined Entrepreneurship 

Anyone can come up with a good business idea. But can you make your business scalable and sustainable? For Phan, coming from a venture capital background helped her understand the “rules of the game”. During her time in VC, she has often seen women Founders not “think big, or crazy enough from an investor perspective.”

Insider tip: Investors typically add 5 times the market value to a female entrepreneur and subtract 5 times the market value for male entrepreneurs. So remember, think BIGGER.

But raising VC is not the only route to investment. Start with building your network, reaching out to people who have done it before, and joining existing communities.

When it comes to investing in scalable businesses, Smallwood will be asking you what your monetization strategy is and what’s your backup strategy. She looks for industries that are not 100% pumped up, such as mental health, femtech and edutech. You need to find your investor champion – someone who believes in the product you are building and someone who believes in you. Once you find this person they will be your hook to further investments and backing.  Read our tips to grow your network here.

3. Finding The Ying To Your Yang

Finding the right business partner can make or break your business. For Meier, she went through 3 business partner breakups before she found the right match. Yes, work breakups exist, and they will leave you broken-hearted, depressed and emotional. Just like any relationship you need to work hard to maintain it. As two technical founders, Meier’s partner decided to take the business route to sell their product. Meier saw this as an advantage for Phantasma Labs because if you’re selling to tech people you need to be able to speak their language.

“It is helpful that he has that background and that he has empathy for the work I’m doing.”

For Phan, Co-Founder breakups are something that’s not talked about enough. Early stage is not for everyone, especially when you’re building something from 0-1. You need to have a “scrappy mindset and like to move fast. It exhilarates certain types of people, but also moving fast can add pressue.” If you’re going through a Co-Founder search, you need to find someone who you can work with, and learn how to react to others in stressful environments. High pressure is definitely a test.

4. Selling The Dream 

For Phan, pitching your business is a lot like a sales process. You need to build your target list, prepare your material and be quick to answer any questions. How you pitch and how you run the process are the most important. But most importantly – how do you create FOMO? You need to nail your pitch deck with a good story. 

What’s really powerful is when people back their pitch up with numbers. You might also be surprised to learn that “having a good internet connection” is something you should also think about. I mean, it should go without saying but having your hotspot ready if everything else fails is a must…

There are multiple routes to find the right investor for you. For Meier she found her investor on Twitter! 

So what’s our Founder’s top three pieces of advice?  

➔ Be prepared to make a lot of mistakes and to receive a lot of no’s

➔ Grow your network 

➔ Be resilient

5. Challenges 

Women in founding teams get 2% of funding. All women teams get .2% of funding. If you asked Smallwood for advice, the most significant challenges you will experience are the ones you create yourself. You will get a lot of no’s. You will get bosses that don’t promote you but it’s up to you on how you respond to them.

As a Founder, you need to get comfortable with uncertainty and making decisions when you don’t have all the information. This is how you can best navigate challenges you can’t foresee.

For Bulambo, one of the hardest challenges is balancing family work with business. As an entrepreneur and as a mother you will find yourself at a crossroads of wanting to stop everything to raise your kids, but not wanting to give up on your passions.

And that brings us to the end of the panel. If you missed this one, make sure you sign up to the Xena Communiy for information about our next event.

About our partner

TIER Mobility is Europe’s leading shared micro-mobility provider, with a mission to Change Mobility for Good. By providing people with a range of shared, light electric vehicles, from e-scooters to e-bikes and e-mopeds, powered by a proprietary energy network, TIER helps cities reduce their dependence on cars.

Sign up for the Xena Meetup group to be the first to know about our next event. 

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