Germany needs female founders!
In our current interview, it is clear to see: above all, there is a lack of female founders in the market, but we are convinced that EVERYONE can learn to act like an entrepreneur. Here you will discover what motivated Sandra Westermann (founder of Superheldin.io) to take this path and what she wants to achieve with her company.
Sandra, with Superheldin.io you have created a job exchange for family-friendly offers. Why?
I worked for about 15 years as a production manager at various TV production companies where I was responsible for budgets and all organizational tasks, from finding teams to implementing the shooting. When I was looking for a job after my parental leave, it turned out to be more difficult than expected. I spent days looking at job boards for a job that could offer me the flexibility I needed in my new family situation on the one hand, but also a job that reflected my previous work experience.
Two out of three mothers take a job for which they are actually overqualified after a family-related career break. Another proportion never finds a job in the first place. On the other hand, we have a shortage of skilled workers in Germany. That doesn’t add up.
A large proportion of companies already offer family-friendly models. So far, however, they have not been able to make themselves visible. When I realized this, I decided to found the job board Superheldin.io to offer family-friendly companies and mothers (and fathers) a platform where they can meet.
How far along are you on your journey?
As a startup, the beginning is always rocky. So many things happen that you don’t expect, good and bad. Superheldin.io has developed in line with its age. Of course, there is still a lot to do and that’s a good thing. Our vision is that work-life balance will be a given in the near future.
Is “entrepreneurship” the best way for you to actively shape the future?
I’m on fire for my subject. Having experienced firsthand how motherhood changed my professional life, I am incredibly grateful to be able to support other mothers with Superhero.io. We already have so many referred women, it makes up for every sleepless night.
For Campus Founders in Heilbronn, it’s clear that “everyone can learn to be entrepreneurial.” Do you see it that way, too?
Entrepreneurship is (unfortunately) not something we learn in school. Personally, I have to admit that I am very grateful for my professional experience, for the good and bad situations that I had to solve or that I experienced. From this, looking back, I have taken away a lot of know-how that benefits me now. It starts with a work structure and extends to communication with the team or service providers or setting priorities. I think it’s essential to have a passion for your subject.
What help would you have liked to have had on your way so far?
Particularly in the early days, I would have liked support in the form of financial backing. I’m sure that would also increase the female founder rate, which is currently only 15.1 percent (source: FemaleFounder Monitor 2019).
You are a female founder yourself and advocate for family-friendly employers. Could a man have ever come up with the idea of founding “Superheldin.io”?
That’s a great question! In my eyes, the issue is about authenticity. Job boards appeal to men first and foremost in all the rhetoric. Women are still asked about their family plans in job interviews these days. Furthermore, there is the women’s quota for a reason, there is a gender pay gap and only 6% of fathers work part-time (source: microcensus 2018).
In short, a man simply doesn’t have these problems. It’s a big concern for us that it should also be natural for fathers (and for employers) to take parental leave or work part-time.
Overall, why do you think so few women start a business compared to men?
Women are less likely to take a risk, they often don’t have enough confidence. Furthermore, the issue of compatibility is a reason why many decide against it.
Campus Founders deliberately advocates for “zebra startups” that are both commercially successful but also work for a better society. What role does “purpose” play for you?
Purpose plays a big role for me, which is why Superheldin.io exists.
Last question: What role has the pandemic played for you? Despite all the restrictions, do you see it as a crisis or an opportunity?
I’m basically an optimistic person, so I’m trying to make the best of the crisis, despite all the restrictions and limitations. One trend that we have definitely noticed since Covid is that companies have understood the topic of “flexible working” and are increasingly turning to us. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few months, it’s to work flexibly and remotely. Until now, we’ve always had to explain that to employers. Superheldin.io stands for flexible working models and we have the, till now hardly used, resource of the labor market that needs exactly these working models: Mothers.
Thank you Sandra, of course for the interview and your time, but most of all for having the courage to start up and thus lead the way as a strong role model.
Campus Founders’ programs are, of course, open to everyone. In this way, we hope to be able to positively influence the quota of women among founders in the future as well.
Do you also want to found a company, but there are some hurdles ahead of you? We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to Campus Founders.