Europe, Interviews

Aiste Lehmann – Founder and CEO of re:event

There are still too less women in science, politics and leadership positions, and this is a systematic issue. As such, it also should be addressed on system level, by creating more equal conditions in all aspects of life, from parenting to equal pay, and setting framework where women can chose easier to work wherever they want to work.

Aiste Lehmann is strategist, obsessive data cruncher and founder of re:event platform, a curated database of 1 200+ tech conferences and festivals in 80+ countries, providing event recommendations, insights and analytics in the increasingly crowded tech eventscape. She is also co-founder of TIDEA.eu, where together with a team she develops projects and evaluation frameworks to enable collaborative ecosystems for research-driven business and innovative research centres, and consults on topics of innovative business development and creation of new products, services or processes. She is the initiator of Researchers’ Night in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the biggest edutainment event in the country since 2012, and deeply involved with European startup ecosystem as event advisor and mentor.

In a nutshell, tell us a bit about your job, and what role technology plays in it?

I’m monitoring the largest tech conferences database at re:event, which means that my job not only uses technology but is also useful for the tech community. In essence, re:event has been created to address needs of people in the tech industry and help them find events matching with their industry focus and sought opportunities.

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

My background is research capacity building and socio-economic development, working closely with EU funding programmes. In 2012 I started RiNG, currently the largest science promotion and edutainment festival in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have always been bit of a science geek and enjoyed working with researchers, but I was slowly developing that nagging feeling that there is something more than projects that end up with pile of reports. In 2014 I got opportunity to participate in 4YFN conference in Barcelona, and impact of this event is difficult to understate. I have discovered a vibrant tech community, full of entrepreneurs, go-getters and doers, which for me meant only one thing: this is where science becomes alive.

Since then I have been actively involved in building startup ecosystem in Western Balkans and forging links with European peers.

In a way, re:event is my way to say thanks for inspiration and opportunities I have discovered while helping people to address problems I have faced myself while starting my journey into this industry.

Three main concepts for starting business: concept of liability, great team and product/market fit.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?

For me personally one of the biggest “wow” effects was created by Skype. Suddenly, you could talk with people around the world nearly for free, without using complicated telecom systems while always thinking if there is enough money/credits on the account left to do so. Similarly, removing of roaming charges within European Union has created a feeling of freedom across the continent, which rippled with transformational effects on all businesses.

When you think about ‘women’ and ‘technology’ what comes to your mind first?

Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Hedy Lamarr and all women in NASA that made Moon landing possible. Without women, computers as we know them today would not exist.

We always hear there are not enough women working in tech. What needs to happen to change that?

This problem is relevant not only for tech, but also in other aspects of economy. There are still too less women in science, politics and leadership positions, and this is a systematic issue. As such, it also should be addressed on system level, by creating more equal conditions in all aspects of life, from parenting to equal pay, and setting framework where women can chose easier to work wherever they want to work.

What are the most important characteristics of a successful woman in tech?

I would say a successful woman has the same characteristics as a successful man or non-binary gender human. Success is a result of work and skill, and every human is capable of achieving it.

There are still too less women in science, politics and leadership positions, and this is a systematic issue. As such, it also should be addressed on system level, by creating more equal conditions in all aspects of life, from parenting to equal pay, and setting framework where women can chose easier to work wherever they want to work.

What are the three most important things to consider when starting a business?

Three main concepts for starting business: concept of liability, great team and product/market fit. I have seen many times with young startups where founders do not grasp concept of liability when owning a company and this can be one of the main reasons for failure. Similarly, would suggest testing the product idea as much as possible before registering a legal entity, and surround yourself with the best people you can find while doing that – either as co-founders, board members or first employees. You will need good sparing partners on this journey.

If you had 1 Million € to invest in women, what would you do? 

Frankly, if I had one million, I would start from investing in men. Specifically, in the education on how to treat each other as equal peers and embrace diversity.

Aiste Lehmann is strategist, obsessive data cruncher and founder of re:event platform. re:event is a curated database of 1.200+ tech conferences and festivals in 80+ countries, providing event recommendations, insights and analytics in the increasingly crowded tech eventscape. She is also co-founder of TIDEA.eu, where together with a team she develops projects and evaluation frameworks to enable collaborative ecosystems for research-driven business and innovative research centres, and consults on topics of innovative business development and creation of new products, services or processes. She is the initiator of Researchers’ Night in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the biggest edutainment event in the country since 2012, and deeply involved with European startup ecosystem as event advisor and mentor. In the free time she focuses on consolidation of scientific and entrepreneurial community in Western Balkans. 

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