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Founder Fireside: growing a company from a female perspective

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Founder Fireside: growing a company from a female perspective

At TNW’s Founder Fireside, we highlight people who have founded successful, growing companies, and invite them to share the important insights that will help the next generation of founders.

For this edition, we will be focusing on how to successfully grow your company from the female perspective. We will hear inspiring first-hand stories from entrepreneurs on how they managed to thrive their businesses, what it takes to make your dreams a reality, how to raise funding, and more.

Our guest speakers for this event are Shea Harty, Managing Director of Empowerment and Empower Amsterdam, Kristi Kurvits, who leads Operations at HearstLab Netherlands, Louise Doorn, Founder of HelloMaaS, Charlotte Melkert, Co-founder of Equalture and Els van der Helm, Co-founder of Shleep.

We’ll begin the event with a short introduction from Kristi about the mission of HearstLab on bridging the investment gap and Shea about the importance of empowering female entrepreneurs. Following this introduction, we’ll move to a panel discussion with Louise, Charlotte, and Els to further discuss the topic. The panel will be moderated by Shea. Finally, we’ll end the event with an audience Q&A.


  • 16:00 - Welcoming Notes 
  • 16:05 - Founder Fireside chat
  • 16:45 - Q&A
  • 17:00 - Closing Remarks


Shea Harty is the Managing Director of the social enterprise Empowerment and the foundation, Empower Amsterdam. Together they make career resources accessible to everyone from small-medium size companies, self-employed, and the unemployed. Both organizations advocate for diversity in the workplace whether it’s gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc. every person should be viewed by their contribution to the organization. She also co-produces the annual women in tech un-conference, WiT Regatta where they create a unique space where relationships are the true currency. She is a business coach and mentor helping female entrepreneurs overcome their fears and challenges that hold them back from accepting that they are their own boss.

Kristi Kurvits leads operations for HearstLab Netherlands, where she focuses on empowering a community of early-stage women-led startups. At the Lab, she identifies prospective startups to invest in and supports the portfolio companies in residence, including advising on marketing, project management, and business development. HearstLab is a community of early-stage, women-led startups working inside Hearst. HearstLab invests in startups innovating in media, technology, and data, where connectivity with any of Hearst’s 360+ businesses is a difference-maker for a founding team. In addition to cash investment, the startups gain access to a number of resources within Hearst to help grow their businesses.

Louise Doorn is a Founder of HelloMaaS. She is a digital marketing leader with a track record of creating online B2C and B2B programs for leading global corporations. She is passionate about digital innovation, and well-versed in translating new marketing channels into programs that break through the clutter. She is a driven entrepreneur, with the capability and willingness to drive success in high-growth and high-risk environments. HelloMaaS is a one-stop-shop platform for marketing. The turnkey platform offers fixed price packages based on proven steps of 50 marketing activities. No more opaque plans or budget surprises. Get right into creativity, execution, and optimization with top tier specialists and local market know-how.

Charlotte Melkert is Co-Founder and CEO of Equalture, a fast-growing HR tech scaleup based in The Netherlands. Equalture's Team Composition Technology leverages gamification and Artificial Intelligence to help scaleups build the right team to keep scaling their business. Charlotte has started this company, as well as her previous company, together with her twin sister Fleur. Having the experience of running two different HR-focused companies, Charlotte is on a mission to disrupt the HR tech market by removing gut feeling and introducing data in every single form of people decision making.

Dr. Els van der Helm is a sleep expert, former McKinsey consultant, and founder of Shleep, a company focused on improving the performance of organizations through a digital sleep and performance coaching platform. Els studied sleep extensively, starting with her Master’s in Neurosciences, where she investigated the effect of sleep on memory (Netherlands Institute for Neurosciences) and emotional processing (Harvard Medical School). She also investigated the effect of sleep on the brain during her Ph.D. in Psychology (University of California Berkeley) before working at McKinsey as a strategy and management consultant. Her publications have been featured by Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, McKinsey Quarterly, and many others.


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