This is a guest post from Mary Carty, a participant in IGAP 1. We in Enterprise Ireland are delighted to announce that they we are planning to run a further Internet Growth Acceleration Programme in Quarter 4 of 2012.
Participating in iGap 1 changed everything. From working with Sean Ellis, Oren Michels, Justin Knecht, Cathy Winston and Brian Caulfield many things become abundantly clear and you find yourself becoming an evangelist about lean startup, customer development and most of all, being passionate about your customers.
As well as applying what I have learned to my own company, I have been blogging about bringing this thinking to the arts and cultural sector. From this, I have been invited to mentor on Growing Pains, a business development programme for 12 Danish and Swedish female Transmedia producers. Held over six months, participants will engage in modules on developing new services, financing, media training, sales, presentation skills, business development and investment. In May, they will take part in Nordic Game, one of the largest game conferences in Europe.
Image (c) http://www.stranger.no with thanks
Growing pains came from a report investigating the barriers facing Transmedia producers when seeking government support in Scandinavia. The researchers looked at funding, management and financing among others. Research found that male and female producers site similar needs for support access to funding, mentorship, investment, networking etc. It showed that more women than men apply for government funding from this sector, yet very few of them are successful.
When looking at risk taking for example, it observed that on average, men take bigger risks with significantly larger losses, should the enterprise not work out. Men also look for larger revenue deals than women. Whereas, females are less risk averse, with often a more sustainable company over the lifetime of that enterprise. Many female producers felt they needed more knowledge and training before making the leap into business, while men on the other hand, threw themselves into the enterprise.
While these findings are not new; proportionately more men successfully accessing support and being more open to risk taking; it does point to a specific need when developing enterprise development programmes for women. Why such a large proportion of women do not succeed in accessing public supports is worth examining. Putting mechanisms in place to deal with specific skills gaps is crucial to the future success and development of these entrepreneurs.
It is also important to look at risk, how women view risk when starting a business and to challenge these perceptions. Motivation and perception are very necessary ingredients when starting out, as these motivations may differ significantly from person to person and between males and females. In understanding, supporting and challenging these issues, skills gaps and perceptions, programmes like Growing Pains will help build pathways to success for female entrepreneurs everywhere.
Why is a programme like this so necessary for Transmedia right now? Digital production and distribution has made old value chains, distribution and business models obsolete. This is a great challenge for the public support system. At the same time, this new disruptive technology is the keystone for Transmedia producers’ success; to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills, to thinking beyond public project financing, in developing and exploiting brands and being innovative in finding alternate sources of funding.
The measure of success for any new programme is the traction and buzz it gains. And Growing Pains is no different, as applications to this first programme were well over subscribed. This shows there is a definite need for programmes like this and I know that it will prove to be a valuable contribution to these entrepreneurs’ success.
I am extremely fortunate to be working with two visionary leaders in this field; Cecilie Stranger-Thorsen who devised the programme and Angeli Sjöström process and implementation coach. Both Cecilie and Angeli bring the best thinking and an in-depth knowledge of this field together and I’m looking forward to learning lots from them. The Growing Pains programme is funded under the EU Regional Development Fund in partnership with Nordic Game Resources.