Start-Up

A right Royal celebration

Congrats Ben and Alex!

Despite this week being only a 3 day working week, it has felt like the longest week ever. A flying visit to Vienna, fearing for my life in a lift, a wonderful wedding, a trip to the Zoo and the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations; I’m not sure I could have packed more in if I tried.

I thought my Monday morning alarm was ridiculously early (04:45) however, it was only to be beaten a few days later by 03:45 on Thursday morning. Throw into the mix a full on conference schedule, and everything else this week, it’s no wonder that I’ve been exhausted this weekend!

I left for Vienna first thing on Monday morning and landed around 1pm. I managed to navigate the Austrian train system to make it into the centre of the city and find my hotel. Once there I had some lunch, did some work and then headed out on my run.

One of only two runs I did in Vienna, my first obviously had to be back to Kipchoge’s sub 2 hour marathon route. I’ve been weirdly emotional all this week (I need a holiday) and so yes, I did shed a tear on running down Hauptallee. The memories of two years prior, when I made it there from the U.K. by bike, just hit me.

I continued to shed more tears back at the hotel when I realised the European sun is much warmer than the English one, and the lack of suncream on my legs had left me with some very pale feet!!

Tuesday morning started with a breakfast meeting at the Vienna Business Agency. This is where I got to meet the team at Female Founders; the company that invited us to pitch at the event. And all the other founders who would be pitching on Wednesday. There were 20 startups in total, so we spent time doing intros and then meeting each other more informally over coffee.

After this we headed to the Female Founders office, not far from the Vienna Business agency building. This was to meet Deepali, a partner at the investment firm Speedinvest.

The Female Founders office was in a beautiful, old, Austrian building and their office was on the top floor. Normally, I have a rule not to use lifts wherever possible (clearly I’d take the one up the Empire State Building, but 7 floors, not normally) however, I was deep in conversation with another Founder about her business and I didn’t want to come across rude by taking the stairs when she wanted to take the lift.

So, we bundled into this old style lift – the type with an external door and then an internal door as well. It was a tight squeeze. Five women and a suitcase. As it chugged it’s way to the top, we were all chatting then as it hit the 7th floor, it stopped. But then nothing happened. One woman who worked in the building said it took a while for the doors to open but this was crazy, nothing was happening. As it slowly dawned on us what was happening, we looked at each other and realised. We were stuck.

The doors weren’t opening. The calm Austrian, Victoria, called the bell button, only to get an automated response. We tried all the buttons but nothing was lighting up. Oh god. Eventually someone answered and spoke in German. Thankfully we had Victoria, our German speaker. If we didn’t have her, I really don’t know what we would have done.

They said they were sending someone, but that someone didn’t come for a very long time. The mirror was quickly steaming up, the lack of fresh air was panicking me, and then we found out one of the women was pregnant!

The rest of the team were calling the emergency services and we were calling the emergency bell again. They all seemed very relaxed on the end of the phone. The fully steamed up mirror and the rickety lift were not helping to keep me relaxed, that’s for sure!

Long story short, we clearly made it out, but not after much waiting and panicking. I did think that running out of fresh air was going to be an issue. But eventually, after some fresh air and water, we made it to the session with Deepali, if not a little shaken!

After lunch we headed to Palais Wertheim, which was where the conference was being held, so we could do a practice of all the pitches. We went through all twenty of them before being let out for the rest of the day (not that there was much left). I headed to a cafe to do some work and make the most of the sunshine.

Wednesday was the conference day, when a whole host of speakers talked about female entrepreneurship and then we had the pitch competition. Prince Max of Liechtenstein was the first speaker of the day, followed by the US Ambassador to Austria; it was a pretty cool line-up.

I was the first pitch after the lunch break, and it went well. We didn’t place in the top two; an eco friendly concrete substitute and a marketplace for second hand sellers to resale on all marketplaces at once, were the winners of my round. Both had amazing traction and were post-revenue, so maybe that will be us next year!

It was a long day of pitching, networking and meeting new people. The event ended at 6pm and after a quick change at the hotel, we headed to the rooftop after party. The view of Vienna was brilliant, and by the time we made it home and I had packed my suitcase, I had all of three hours and forty five minutes of sleep, before that 03:45 alarm woke me up for the airport.

My early start meant that I was back in my London flat just before 10am. I was on a tight schedule to wash my hair and get ready for my cousins wedding at 2pm, thankfully in a venue not too far from my flat! I had a quick sixty minute nap followed by a strong coffee and breakfast and got ready in double quick time.

The sun was shining and Alex and Ben’s wedding was lovely. From about 2pm to 6pm, I actually felt alright. Then from about 6pm onwards, I could barely keep my eyes open. The weeks exertions and the super early mornings and late nights were catching up on me. By 9pm I was a zombie!

Despite Friday being a bank holiday, I actually attended a work event at the London Zoo. We had been invited by Rasha Saïd, as part of her charity’s work. I have to say, I was so tired I was at that point of being overtired and felt horrendous. Around 3:30pm I dragged myself to the Zoo and spent the rest of the day on a tour around it.

By the time the weekend rolled around, I think I’d lost track of all concept of days and time. I’ve been trying to rest as much as possible this weekend and enjoy the Jubilee celebrations, as it’s not an ideal week to go into feeling tired; I’ve got a half-marathon to run at the end of it!

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