Pirate Summit adventures

Written and edited by Veronika Suhareva.

What does the title Pirate Summit bring to your mind? Do you immediately imagine a bunch of one-eyed men with peg legs and parrots perched on their shoulders, coming together to compete in who can most loudly shout “Arr, matey” while driving a ship with one hand and fighting with swords with another?

As stated on its official website, Pirate Summit “brings together the movers and shakers of the digital world.” That is, the modern Pirates are tech heroes and their sea is one of the digital world. Sounds awesome, isn’t it?

Riga TechGirls initiated and together with Twino organized series of workshops “How to create a startup”, and a Pirate Summit trip was the main prize for winning startup-founders from these series of workshops.

Here is what Anna Andersone is about to say about the workshop series and participants:

“There were about 30 applications in total, from which we selected 14 whom we invited to take part in the workshop cycle. The number is that small in order to allow workshop leads to devote personal attention and attitude to each participant as much as possible. Out of 14 participants two were men. We do not want to exclude anyone and we are a comprehensive organization, but our goal is to empower women, so we indicate in the event title that these are start-up workshops for women. The selected participants already had a ready idea and a good justification for it, as well as an appropriate experience in the field of this idea.

Some ideas were changing very significantly, while others, which were already at a more advanced stage, became more stable. The girls who applied and came to these workshops are all very clever, brave and strong personalities, which was also proved during the workshops. I think that some of them make more confidence in their idea and themselves than developers!”

Riga TechGirls team together with Latvian “pirates”, including women with different tech related background, attended the Pirate Summit in Cologne this September, and here is what they are about to share with our readers about their experience as the Pirates:

Vija Volfa
Internet based personalized postcard sending solution

“It was a unique experience to participate in Pirate Summit so early in the business idea development stage. People whom I met during the event gave me a fresh perspective for the idea development, shared their experience and knowledge about possible setbacks, as well as solutions. Pirate Summit is a great combination of masterclasses both for learning and networking. For me the main take away from the event is that the TEAM matters the most, and the idea comes in second.”

Edīte Millere
Riga TechGirls community manager

“It was my first time at Pirate Summit, but had heard a lot of positive noise about it before. The venue was amazing, the pitch contests were impressive, it was noticeable that they had a competition for the start-ups, and some of the speeches were great, but many of them felt very unprepared and more like product advertisements. I am most surprised by the lack of femtech in German tech industry and/or under-representation of them at the event, surely it feels that in Latvia there is larger representation of females in the tech industry and at all levels. So from this perspective, I have taken away from the Pirate Summit a personal feeling that in Latvia females are well (but always can be better/more) represented in the tech industry, we have a voice and are being taken in consideration in the industry.”

Mara Lasmane
FoodyCheck, Food product rating & scanning app that helps people make healthy shopping decisions fast and effortlessly

“It was a great opportunity to attend one of the biggest start-up festivals in Europe. At Pirate Summit I tried to get as much as possible from it: pitch competition and reverse pitches by investors, panel discussions, business speed dating, masterclasses, and inspirational talks. My favorites were inspirational talks, where people shared their real entrepreneurial life experiences with ups & downs, and masterclasses about Facebook ads camp (this was the best one) and how to close your first investor. All in all I am satisfied with the festival, except of the fact that promotions were too obvious in some cases. Pirate Summit is definitely a good place to get new contacts from all over the world.”

Antra Asare
ENME, Automated platform for measuring and improving employee engagement

“Pirate Summit was definitely a very valuable experience for ENME, most importantly, because we got precious feedback from experienced peers and investors. Presenting and discussing a start-up idea with others helps to spot it’s weaknesses, which is the first step towards getting it fixed and solid. The informal setting of Pirate Summit is just perfect for meeting extraordinary people with lots of mind-blowing ideas.”

Žanete Mergina
Pet Plan B, Airbnb for pet-sitting

“Pirate Summit was really more of a festival than a traditional conference. The format was very relaxed and open that puts you at ease to go and talk to people while having a good time. It was not the first startup event I attended, but definitely the first of that kind. For me as a co-founder at the idea stage, Pirate Summit was about seeking advice and inspiration from entrepreneurs ahead of the game and talking to investors. It was an empowering experience and I am thankful to Riga TechGirls and Twino for the ARRR-tastic opportunity!”

For our readers we also asked Twino representative Laura and our co-creator Anna to share their opinion not only about the summit as such, but also about women in tech and why it’s important to encourage them.

Laura Krastiņa
TWINO Group Communications

RTG: Why is it important to support women in IT and start-ups?

Laura: TWINO has been investing in the Latvian start-up ecosystem already for several years. With our support activities, we want to expand the scope of the new enthusiasts. TWINO’s support activities include both mentoring and sharing our business experience through various inspirational activities, as well as support for participation in international industry events. We have started our cooperation with RTG [Riga TechGirls], because in two years time since we have been working closely with various people in a Latvian start-up environment, we have noticed the tendency that the proportion of women in start-up environment is inadequately low, therefore we want to make a contribution, so we all can change this trend in a positive direction.

RTG: How do you rate the series of workshops? Was there anything surprising in the applications and products?

Laura: We rate our cooperation with RTG as positive. We highly value that RTG with its knowledge and activities are able to inspire women not to be afraid to realize their ideas. We were impressed by the high level of responsiveness, as well as were delighted with the fact, that a great number of independent business ideas have been emerged as the result of the work sessions.

RTG: How do you rate the Pirate Summit trip? How important are such events for start-ups at their early stage?

Laura: Our beliefs and personal experience have shown that attendance and participation in the international events such as Pirate Summit, Slush, and TechChill allow you to expand your scope and vision, as well as give a chance to meet potential partners, and inspire new business ideas that you may have always had in your mind, but for some unknown reasons, you have not been noticing.

Anna Andersone
Head of “How to start a startup” workshop, Co-creator of RTG

RTG: Why is it important to support women in IT and start-ups?

Anna: Since I am in the start-up environment I rarely meet in Latvia women, who are founders themselves, and I noticed that less women attend start-up events than men do. While thinking about how to make a start-up environment more versatile and attractive for women together with Twino we have created an idea of ​​start-up workshop series exactly for ladies! We want higher gender balance for the start-up environment, so women can create new innovative products that grow fast and launch worldwide!

RTG: How do you rate the Pirate Summit trip? How important are such events for start-ups at their early stage?

Anna: I think that this trip was a great way to unite women founders in start-up environment. Already after the workshops girls set up mutual cooperation groups and together went to different events and hackathons. But Pirate Summit as such gave an ambition and opportunity to test ideas at the international level and to see how other start-up entrepreneurs speak, perform, and what they think.

RTG: Any other words?

Anna: I would like to sincerely thank Twino for this initiative and support, as without them this would not have been possible!

Inspired with their experience? Keep following our blog for new stories and inspirational interviews, follow our social media accounts for unique content and news, and don’t forget to join our community to be inspired and to learn something new about technology. Arrr, girls!

Thanks go to our supporters, wonderful lecturers and workshop leads: Alise Semjonova, Gunita Kulikovska (have you already read our interview with her?!), Jekaterina Novicka, Toby Moore, Armands Broks, Dagnija Lejiņa, Kristiāns Līcis, and Anna Andersone!

Riga TechGirls