By @SimonCocking

We find out more about Sprinters from it’s two organisers and cofounders  Saskia Naujok and Mervish Aslam 

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Your back ground briefly?

Saskia: I am the co-Founder of Oh my bra!, a lingerie startup for curvy women starting at cup size C to H, which I started 2014 directly after I had finished my MBA. Prior to my MBA, I lived in Hong Kong for eight years, and worked in the fashion industry with international high calibre clientel. My passion is inspiring and motivating women to be a better self. Mevish and I met in Brazil during the CONNECT entrepreneur exchange. We shared the same motivation and decided to do something bigger. We created Sprinters to get women in tech on board, in what today, is still a men’s playground.

Mevish: My passion for travelling ensured I practised Law abroad. Having spent three years working in the MENA region I returned to my home city of Birmingham to work for a local startup, WAE+. WAE+ became the fastest growing e-tailer in the UK. This didn’t last for long so I moved on and formed my own startup – Kreative Squid, a marketplace for Photographers and Event Planners. Besides this I have Co-Founded Yelaah, a platform connecting innovative startups with corporations. In my spare time I contribute to EU-Startups and recently starting working freelance at Leverate Media GmBH.

Mevish and Saskia you both work on other initiatives, how do you balance them all?

Saskia: I try not to multitask but instead assign slots to each project. Otherwise it just gets confusing. My days currently consist of at least 14h and 5-6h sleeps. I try to work from coffee shops or other socially engaging environments. Strangely enough it gives me better focus and concentration than working in my home office. I enjoy the noise but yet being anonymous.

Mevish: Organisation is key. Weekly and daily lists break up my schedule into bite size chunks. At the end of the day it comes down to managing energy levels rather than time. Every project is challenging. However we have the perfect mix of challenges, drive and passion ensuring each venture is balanced. Nothing is impossible.

How has last 12 months been?

Mevish: A rollercoaster! I have been living across three continents, seven months of which were spent in South America. Brazil is where I met Saskia on an entrepreneur exchange program and we decided to work towards the reality of bringing Sprinters to life.

Saskia: I can only agree with Mevish in terms of the rollercoaster. I moved back to my hometown Berlin after a total of 9 years out of the country, with a short break of 6 weeks in Brazil. I started 2 businesses with wonderful female partners working with tight budgets – it’s challenging and my learning curve is bigger than ever. I love it!

Anything you’d do differently?

Mevish: Launch Sprinters earlier. I have been toying with the idea of Sprinters for a year. But everything happens for a reason. Having met Saskia in Brazil we immediately hit it off. She’s my perfect other half for Sprinters!

Saskia: Sometimes enthusiasm is so high that you approach things maybe a bit too enthusiastic. Time management is still on my list of “things to do better”. But then again, anything is possible (smile)

Why did you chose to run Sprinters in Dublin?

Saskia: During the time of our sprint there will be many international visitors coming into town for the Web Summit. We find this an exciting timing that creates a great synergy between our event’s purpose and the professionals in town.

What do you hope to come out of it?

Mevish: We hope to inspire women by providing the tools and network to startup. We aim to create a movement of Three Day Startup Sprints for Women. Improving the ratio of female led startups one city at a time.

What are the benefits of an all female participant environment? 

Saskia: There is a tendency that women let their guard down to share ideas while working with women instead of men. (there is actually research on this, but I could not find the article right now) It is also known that women have a different, more empathetic management style compared to men. We want to leverage the female management style where we can support each other.

Where are the participants coming from to take place?

Saskia: Due to the short time frame we have pulled off Sprinters, most entreprenHers, or as we like to call them – Powertechtresses – come from Dublin but tend to have an international background. Our mentors and judges are international. It makes a great, interesting and inspiring mix.

The virtual bootcamp online is a good idea – what will you be prepping them in during this?

Mevish: Participants will cover the fundamentals of completing a business canvas and the lean methodology. This engages the startup mind frame in advance of the program. With this in mind participants will hit the ground running, maximising their input during the three day sprint.

You aim to launch at the end – this can often be a challenge of hackathons that the ideas are not followed up on after the event – what steps do you take to try and avoid this happening?

Mevish: Having taken part in three hackathons we understood the challenges that lie ahead. We are engaged with the local ecosystem to provide a support package. More details to be released soon!

Tell us who the mentors are taking part?

Saskia: We have quite a nice international background.

Maren Lesche from Germany is a highly inspiring woman who has been in the startup field for a while. Currently she is the PR manager at Finleap, is a blogger, and advisor to a Israely STEM startup. She has a huge network, and has worked for the EU.

Niamh McHugh is running two businesses and a mentor at 100Minds.

Georgina Kearney is a co-founder and runs the High Flyers Programme at DCU Ryan Academy in Dublin. She is highly analytical and focuses in her work on creating and executing the growth strategy. Laurent Basset from France is a consultant at Entrepreneurship, which says it all. He has a strong IT background with 15 years of international experience.

Nubi Kay Business Analyst at Accenture. Nubi is no stranger to startups. His active role in Dublin’s startup scene has him engaged in the Umbala Project and Startup Weekends.

Ben V – Like all our mentors, Ben has his fingers in a number of pies. Ben is Founder at HotelMinder, a marketing and distribution tool for hoteliers, hostels and guesthouses.

Mevish Aslam, our Founder at Sprinters, Mevish worked for the fastest growing startup in the UK. Shortly after she ventured on her own startup Kreative Squid a marketplace for Photographers. Also works in a range of startup projects across Europe.

Overall, a great mix who can help our Powertechtresses get the most of the three day sprint, learn, live startup life and get an idea off the ground to become a real startup.

What is the female pampering part?

Mevish: Hackathons are intense. For this reason we decided to break away from the norms and introduce a ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ theme. The pampering part includes a yoga class and healthy snacks and juices to support endurance across the three days.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Saskia: We are planning to go international with our format. Amsterdam, Berlin, and London are on our list of next places to go to support the EntreprenHer ecosystem with an international twist. Exciting times lay ahead of us.

Contact details

Saskia Naujok
Twitter: @saskiashorizon
LinkedIn: https://de.linkedin.com/pub/saskia-naujok/9/8a6/399
Website Oh My Bra!: www.ohmybra.eu (currently just a landing page, but working on it)
Blog: www.ohmybra.eu/blog

Mevish Aslam
Twitter: @Mevish_A
LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/mevisha


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or @SimonCocking

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