Inventing the Future: Female Collaboration

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In our quest for success, there’s a tendency to see others as competitors rather than partners. Since my childhood, I remember being compared to others, and being told to try harder in order to be better and outperform my peers. Before founding my startup yoganect, I spent several years working for large German IT corporations; a tough and competitive industry that offered just a little room to embrace collaboration for driving growth.

As an entrepreneur and the founder of a young tech startup I choose collaboration over competition every time. Why? Because competition is exhausting. Instead, partnerships that generate win-win relationships provide a network of supporters and open doors to new opportunities. Just by looking at female run companies, I believe that joining forces has the power to generate stronger business results.

Collaboration is the new competition

Starting a business can be scary. Starting a business alone as a female entrepreneur can be even more daunting as well as a very challenging journey.

Working at my startup, I dedicate a lot of time, effort and patience to create and develop pitch decks, talk to customers, and actually go out there and talk to investors and seek business funding. It is not a secret that female founders are underrepresented. In fact, only 17% of startups in the US are founded by women. Female entrepreneurs might not fit into the standard boardroom environment.

Why?

Because for many of us, we value characteristics such as nurturing others, being empathetic as well as being passionate about our business. But those qualities are valuable. Passion and emotions are needed to breakdown old stereotypes and open doors to new business ethics.

​Passion and emotions are needed to breakdown old stereotypes and open doors to new business ethics.

In my experience, female entrepreneurs tend to be more self-aware in recognizing their weaknesses, and in doing so, show a key part of true leadership. After all, the best leaders don’t just play to their strengths. As leaders, they know that establishing partnerships that fill those gaps is a smart business decision.

Especially within the yoga business that has so many female entrepreneurs, collaboration is crucial and can work wonders.

Seeking out the right partners that both add value and create win-win relationships is perhaps one of the most common things that we do in our daily activities as a business. A great example of this is the series of events we hosted in Hamburg devoted to our Demo-Day. To present our startup, we invited investors, influencers, bloggers and other professionals interested in our company for a networking event.

We teamed up with Ava Taylor, a founder of Yama Talent from New York as a keynote speaker and our partner. Being an avid yogi herself and a tenacious, creative entrepreneur, Ava explained the increasing growth of the yoga industry. As she spoke, it was clear she truly has her finger on the pulse of the rapidly expanding yoga industry and could show the opportunities it represents with trends within the digital yoga world.

​The yoganect team​ with ​founders Elnura ​​Ashimova [front, right] and René Delrieux [back, right] as well as Yama Talent founder Ava Taylor [front, middle]

Success is real and doubles when you share it

Admittedly, it felt scary to enter the world of entrepreneurship, start a business and ask for money. Part of the reason is because I lacked female role models, and wasn’t used to having access to financing, credit, or angel investors and venture capital firms. But as the startup has continued to grow, I’ve been able to see the power of natural networking and collaborative opportunities. Seeking out female investors, finding the right partners and applying for initiatives that promote female entrepreneurship not only makes the whole journey easier, but it also inspires me to continue my work.

Since most of our customers are based in the US, our collaboration brought us recently back to California for our Roadshow. As part of that trip, I ended up pitching on a big stage in Silicon Valley sharing our vision to investors, networking and became part of upcoming projects for female founders internationally.

Our yoga platform connects like-minded people and helps them share their knowledge and network with other yogis. Through our open-minded attitude to collaboration, we have met so many wonderful professionals with whom we created mutually beneficial relationships that enrich our platform.

Here are just a few of these amazing partners: Kathrin Mechkat, the founder of MOMazing who guides all the amazing yogamoms; Paloma with Rock Your Yoga Retreat from San Diego who helps yoga teachers create their dream retreats; Vanessa & Miriam from yoga2b who bring yoga to your office; Sarah Highfield with an inspiring urban yoga in London - Yogagise; Andrea Marcum – a wonderful professional from LA; Prana Up Your Life with Jasmin & Josephine who help others learn how to live Ayurvedic lifestyle and also Mike Erler with Mike and More, who breaks the stereotype that yoga is only for men and many other inspiring mindful professionals. Our partners and supporters keep the platform alive and their success is our success. 

The phrase ‘Success is real and doubles when you share’ is so true, particularly when talking about yoganect.

I believe that when women replace competition with collaboration, the challenging journey of entrepreneurship feels less exhausting, more empowering and opens doors to new opportunities.

​Elnura​ ​​Ashimova pitching for venture capital at California Startup Conference​

Collaboration Is Essential to Entrepreneurship

When we started yoganect two years ago, we had already teamed up with our first partner Udaya Entertainment right from the start. Udaya offers great HD online yoga videos and hosts beautiful yoga retreats in Bulgaria. Through our collaboration we created a mutually beneficial win-win relationship by creating our first promotional video and online cross-marketing cooperation to attract our first customers. This and other further partnerships opened many doors for us to engage with additional talents and influencers to market our business and find partners that helped us grow.

I figured out at early stage that compromise and collaboration are two things every entrepreneur has to embrace on the journey to success. Each time, I take a chance by reaching out to partners, whether they be big or small. It only takes one email, tweet or message to reach the right person.

Each time, I take a chance by reaching out to partners, whether they be big or small. It only takes one email, tweet or message to reach the right person.

The technology around us offers various channels to reach out even to more influential people via connecting to them on LinkedIn or even commenting on their posts on social networks. In the startup community, visiting events is another great way to connect to others. One of the most common phrases heard in the business world is ‘survival of the fittest.’ However, with the advent of startups and small businesses, that logic is fast becoming outdated.

Being an online platform where we connect yoga practitioners, businesses and brands to network and book yoga classes, partnerships are essential for our business. Thanks to our continuous and committed efforts to reaching out to people, we count more than 300 mindful business partners that are ready to host their events with us and more than 110K social followers, a traction that is unusual for most businesses before their launch. 

​Collaboration meetup in San Diego [left: ​René Delrieux, middle: Elnura ​Ashimova, ​right: Rock your yoga retreat founder Paloma]​

Break the taboos: collaborate for success

In a blog examining the advantages and disadvantages of collaborative versus competitive work culture, David Mizne explains that working together does more than simply make things easier, it also increases creativity. Competitive work environments put the brain in a ‘fight or flight’ mode that often means innovative and creative opportunities will be shut down by your own brain. In other words, this all boils down to the same refrain: competition isn’t worth it while collaboration so obviously is.

​Working together does more than simply make things easier, it also increases creativity.

Competition can be exhausting. Collaboration inspires you and energises rather than drain you. The fact of the matter is, there will always be someone better or more knowledgeable than you at something. So instead of seeing it as competition, choose to see each other as assets. Work together. Support each other. Promote each other to equip, motivate and inspire one another.

Working together can help to avoid unnecessary hardships and save a lot of time and money. Embracing partnerships has to be part of the solution. We foster win-win relationships and invent the future through collaboration as women.

Working together can help to avoid unnecessary hardships and save a lot of time and money.

Behind every great CEO and company leader, female or male, you’ll find a network of supporters, confidants, partners, mentors & advisors that back them up to succeed. Let your mind look for opportunities to join forces and do something great.

Find Yoganect online

​Website: www.yoganect.com

​Social Media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Join yoganect in 2018 at UdayaLive Yoga & Music Festival in Bulgaria, Copenhagen Yoga Festival, Om Yoga Show in London or Web Summit in Portugal.

yoganect will be giving away free tickets for Om Yoga Show in London, stay tuned for more info on our Instagram page.


​About the author 

Elnura Ashimova is the Founder and CEO of yoganect, a digital hub for yoga enthusiasts to connect and book yoga classes & events on demand. Elnura spent several years working for large German IT corporations within project management before she discovered the benefits of yoga practice which led her to travel through Asia, Australia and the US exploring the yoga industry. Now she combines her passion for yoga with expertise in business & marketing to grow yoganect. ​

Connect with Elnura on LinkedIn or her ​Website.

​[Article edited by Gabriella Gricius]

Photos by ​yoganect

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