Diversity – still a long road ahead

The other day I saw a Hungarian venture capital conference promo on the internet that had 21 speakers. 20 men and 1 solitary woman. The next event I bumped into was a Fintech conference in Budapest with 46 speakers. 40 men and 6 women. This is slightly confusing, aren’t we in 2020? Or is it America in the 60s as depicted in the series Mad Man?

I shall take the liberty of assuming that there are more than one (or six) women in the country who are competent in or great experts on the topics concerned, with relevant experiences and useful insights to offer. I wish we didn’t have to talk about this anymore, but these are just two examples from the thousands which prove that indeed, we have to. Especially, because these examples showed me how little has changed in my field in the past five years. In 2015, Elle UK magazine decided to launch their #MoreWomen campaign with a powerful set of before and after images: first, a picture of the people actually present at the scene, followed by a second image with all the men edited out. See the original photos here. There is a reason I chose one of these pictures as illustration: it seems like we’re not making much progress. 

In the Stockholm Fintech Guide 2020 supported by Invest Stockholm, we discussed the importance of equality. It is one of the strongest driving forces in the Swedish ecosystem, and it is beyond doubt that no ecosystems can thrive in its absence. Speaker selections like the above occuring on a regular basis, is one of the immediate signs that scream about the need for improvement and we have to act on that. So far I haven’t expressed my personal views in public, but I have been approached on this phenomenon in private so many times that I can’t even count them. It’s not hard for me to see why, calm waters are not really to be expected for an entrepreneur and a CEO at the meeting point of law, tech and investment.

Truly achieving diversity is a long road, with almost indestructible building blocks and obstacles on it made of concrete. Obviously, that road and mostly how far it has already been built, differs from country to country.

We, at KassaiLaw, having many projects throughout Europe can see these differences on a daily basis. However, regardless of the location, one thing has become very clear over the years. For many reasons, the progress leading to a material change cannot be awaited and expected to just drift down from above. We also have to go deep down, very consciously to the core of the issue to reach the individual elements and pieces. We women and men, who nowadays form these ecosystems in which diversity remains a huge problem, lag behind the times by ages. We have to examine and understand our individual stories, the small steps that have brought us to where we stand, the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and our observations and considerations of those details. We never should forget, however, that we also have to act very responsibly, leading the conversations with constructive suggestions, not resentment or anger. 

Since I am fairly tired of having to raise my eyebrows every single time, I start searching through the upcoming events in my field, I have decided to do my tiny bit and examine the topic from some of my own perspectives. Today’s piece is the first installment of a #girlboss campaign in which we have gathered some great, truly inspiring women and men for some discussions. 

We are all responsible for the future we want to live in, and every single voice is relevant on the road that will take us there.

What does true diversity mean to you?

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“Is your team the dream team? How much percentage should each founder get?” One of the core ingredients to success is the right team with complementing skills and personalities: early stage investors (and business partners too, by the way) will invest in the team, not the idea. Our goal is to guide you in building a strong and well-functioning team, as well as help you uncover potential friction points or weaknesses in the team, so that you can address them in the very beginning. When it comes to the fair split with your co-founders, if you need a reference point, or just want reassurance, we have developed our own tool for equity split calculation. Hint: the one answer that’s certainly wrong is a hasty 50-50 split.

You have spotted a problem and found a viable solution – in other words, you have your idea. What’s the next step? You need to make sure that the problem your business is trying to solve is a valid problem for a wide enough group, and that

Are you sure that the problem your business is trying to solve is a valid problem for a wide enough group? 

When you spot a problem and think you have found a viable solution to create a business around, it’s all too easy to get excited and jump straight into ideating a solution.

Avoid making something and then hoping people buy it when you could research what people need and then make that.

It doesn’t make any sense to make a key and then run around looking for a lock to open.

There are many ingredients in the recipe for creating a successful startup, but most certainly whatever you read and wherever you go, one of the first pieces of advice is going to be to do your homework properly regarding the validation. You have to validate both your problem and your solution to be able to define the perfect problem-solution and later on the product-market fit. If you manipulate your future customers into liking your solution or do not reveal all the aspects and layers of a problem you identified, your idea can easily lose its ground and with that the probability of it surviving and actually being turned into a prosperous business. Let us know if we can help at this initial but yet super-important stage.

Validation is the first step in moving towards learning more about the problem you are ultimately looking to solve.

Finding your unique value proposition is only possible if you take a thorough glance at your competitors. The world of tech is highly competitive, particularly so when you operate in a field with low entry barriers, you need to carefully examine and regularly update the news and developments of those companies who act in the same field and market. This might lead to several pivots for you if necessary, because you can significantly increase your chances of success if you can offer a—at least in some aspect—unique solution to your customers. The introduction as “we are like Uber/Snapchat/WeWork/Spotify, only better” is hardly sufficient in most cases. Unless you really are so much better, but then you need to know that too, so up the competitive analysis.