By @SimonCocking. Great interview with the multi-talented Maren Lesche PR @FinLeap , advisor at , curator @StartupDigest, mentor @sprinters_ , lover

Your background?

I am a communicator by heart. Writing and telling stories is my passion. I started writing for our school paper in 6th grade. Now I work in communications, run my own blog, coach young founders how to pitch their ideas successfully and travel all over Europe to find exciting stories. I also experience startup life first hand: I support Israeli startup VoiceItt as an Advisor and Business Developer in Europe and work fulltime at the Berlin-based FinTech Company Builder Finleap.

How you found Web / Surf Summit?

It is the second time I travelled to Web Summit. In 2014 I presented our startup Voiceitt, pitched on stage at Alpha Stage and reached out to investors. In 2015 I joined the event as a blogger and attended Surf Summit for the first time. Did Web Summit rock my universe? No! In 2015 the event seems too big, too commercial and too unfocussed. However, the side events – small gatherings of like-minded people like the Sprinters Weekend, the IDA breakfasts, the Fintech party of Currencyfair or the party of 500Startups – were impressive. I also truly benefited from Surf Summit – more intense contacts lead to great stories I am still working on for my blog.
Will I attend Web Summit in Lisbon? Probably – I am curious what the team will come up with in a new location. And last but not least, if the Sprinters-team needs mentors to coach young women in tech again, I am happy to support!

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What useful encounters came out of it?

I reached out to editors and met many new startups. Especially the mentor’s hours of Web Summit and the outdoor activities at Surf Summit provided some fresh ideas. I am still in contact with a lot of the startups, editors and investors I met. Building a strong network is not achieved by attending one event but by working on the relationships long-term by sharing knowledge first and – maybe but not necessarily – getting something back much later.

What does your company do?

Voiceitt is an Israeli company with a voice- and voice pattern recognition software called TalkItt. We basically give the people that can’t speak due speech impairment their voice back. It is a great product that will improve the life of many million people worldwide suffering from a stroke, ALS, MS or any other disease causing speech problems. I support VoiceItt as Advisor but run also my own blog www.startupchallenges.eu and work in communications for FinLeap, a company building focusing on Fintech, Insurtech and Proptech.

How was last 12 months?

Busy! VoiceItt did win many competitions and raised some money. With the money we developed the product further so we are able to release a first version in Q1/2016. My blog is also running well, although I have hardly time to write all the stories running in my head. Working at FinLeap also keeps me on my toes constantly. Fintech is exciting. But since I did not work in the finance industry before I have a lot to learn.

Anything you’d do differently?

No, I truly enjoy my busy schedule. All the projects trigger different interests I have. I love to learn and explore new areas. Mentoring and coaching provide me with an opportunity to share my knowledge and give something back.
However, I might try to slow down a bit in 2016 – once VoiceItt is on the market I would love to support the team some more.

Tips for new startups?

Focus on your product, get to know the people you develop it for. A great product will sell. No need to chase investors all the time. Bootstrap as long as possible. And do not forget to build a strong brand early on. Trust doesn’t come overnight – especially in highly sensitive industries like healthcare, FinTech or AI.

Future trends you’re excited about?

Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing in healthcare – just heard about 3d printed blood vessels! – and connected car technology.

What’s next for you?

I do not plan ahead long-term. Working in a startup environment I learned to adopt changes and think agile.

How do you manage life / work /online / offline?

Tricky question! I am more or less online all the time – especially if I am working on projects with the VoiceItt teams that is spread over two continents – Israel and the USA. There is less work-life-balance but more work-life-blending in my case. However, family always comes first. So if I am on vacation I take time off, switch off my cell phone and take some down time.


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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