What did you do before becoming an entrepreneur? What inspired you to switch?
I was finishing my PhD in neurophysiology in Munich a few years ago when a major Silicon Valley VC fund contacted me for help in understanding the neurotech and AI landscape.
My dream was always to become a postdoctoral fellow in a major neurobiology lab. Thankfully, I pursued it and applied to Reid Hoffman's Entrepreneur First accelerator in London, which helped me find equally stellar academics, ready to reach their full potential as deep tech CEOs and CTOs. I found an extremely supportive network of investors, advisors and corporate leads, that were all working together to bring the best scientific findings to the industry.
I feel relieved knowing that there is a new generation of highly skilled technical people behind the new disruptive companies paving the way to innovation in this decade and the next. This will push a more competency-driven meritocracy within our society, which can hopefully steer us toward providing solutions to major challenges such as pandemics and climate change. Since then, I definitely knew that I wanted to become a CEO, and not a professor. I absolutely love what I do and could not be more excited for the future!
How has your experience been as a female entrepreneur?
Amazing! The majority of people I have worked with have been very helpful and supportive, especially here in the UAE.
The new regulation that was announced earlier this month that requires all UAE-listed companies to have at least one female on the board is very forward-thinking and I hope to see other countries follow. I strongly believe that talent, vision and the ability to put in hard work, as well as high-quality effort, are the main criteria I look for when hiring new team members, regardless of gender, race and or origin. I expect people to hold me to the same standards.
What is your best personality attribute that contributes to your success as a founder?
Resilience. It is just as important as competence, especially when combined with continuous learning, compassion and modesty. Some of the most successful founders I know have been rejected by more than 70 investors before securing their first round of funding. They never stopped taking on feedback.
Improving based on that feedback helps build a product that the market really needs. Sometimes, and especially since working remotely, intellectual and emotional resilience needs to come with the ability to work long hours and keep physically fit while doing so. And so in short, it’s important for a founder to hold these characteristics.
What does it take to be a strong and successful entrepreneur?
Tech entrepreneurs are not just innovators, they are disruptors. The very successful ones always addressed major challenges that not only existed for decades, but posed an existential threat.
A great example is Elon Musk. His approach seems quite unique, and I hope that our future generations mirror his perspective and bring similar qualities in talent and competence to the startup world, in addition to their corporate and investor networks.
In your opinion, how can we encourage more women to become entrepreneurs?
I would start with education that drives excellence, which is especially important for developing technical skills like programming among women. But I would also add that women and their competences should be held to the same standard as men.
At neurobotx, we are trying to build networks where we combine technical and corporate training at a very early stage. Once colleagues prove to be competent through exams and internships, it makes sense to complement that education with training on how to be professional, resilient, and other relevant courses such as project management, leadership and communication skills.
As long as everyone stays professional, competence should naturally create gender balance within startups, corporations, and investment boards. I welcome women from around the globe to join our platform today.