Female Entrepreneurship Week 2023 will also feature successful entrepreneur Dr Diana Knodel, whose start-up fobizz recently won the Hamburg State Prize and the Federal Prize at the KfW Award Gründen. We spoke with her in the run-up to the kick-off event WEEK UP! about the challenges of a female founder in a male-dominated industry.
At the Female Entrepreneurship Week 2023, entrepreneur Dr Diana Knodel will provide insights and orientation into the world of start-ups. In 2018, the computer scientist founded fobizz, which is now the largest independent training platform for teachers. In the meantime, 25 per cent of teachers use the training courses offered there.
At the opening event of the Female Entrepreneurship Week WEEK UP!, the recently awarded entrepreneur will present her own start-up path, shed light on start-ups in the tech sector (e.g. background, motivation, opportunities) and the challenges of a male-dominated industry. We asked her a few questions about this:
Can you give us an insight your first steps in the tech sector and what motivated you to start initiatives like “fobizz” and “App Camps”?
My first steps in the tech sector started during my media informatics studies. I was fascinated by the possibilities offered by the IT industry. During my studies, I realised that the percentage of women in the tech industry is still far too low. This motivated me to found initiatives that inspire young people, especially girls, for computer science and STEM. This is how the university project CyberMentor first came about, where schoolgirls meet female role models from the STEM field. Later, the idea for App Camps was born. Initially with a coding workshop for girls, today we develop digital teaching materials on computer science for schools. A good five years ago, my co-founders and I then founded fobizz, a platform for teachers and schools around continuing education and artificial intelligence applications for schools.
Have you ever had the feeling, especially at the beginning of your career in the tech industry, that you were not being taken completely seriously? How did you deal with such challenges?
Yes, I had that feeling again and again, especially at the beginning. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I sometimes had to prove myself more. Maybe at first you are given less credit. That is certainly not always the case everywhere, but of course I also had experiences that were not so great. I simply built up my own great network – with great women and men. Similar to what you do with Week Up! I think that’s great and I’m happy to be part of it!
What advice would you give to other women who are thinking about starting in tech or starting their own business?
My advice to other women who want to start in the tech industry or start their own business is: Have the guts! The tech industry offers great opportunities and there are so many exciting projects and innovations to be a part of. It is important not to be intimidated by any prejudices and to go your own way. Build a strong network, find mentors to support you and be inspired by others.
How crucial is it for you to nurture young talent and how do you integrate new, emerging professionals into your projects and companies?
Fostering young talent has always been important to me. I strongly believe that everyone has the potential to succeed in the tech industry, regardless of gender or background. That’s why it’s important to us at App Camps to get young people excited about computer science and new technologies and to encourage them to implement their own ideas. We offer workshops and teaching materials to give them the necessary skills and knowledge.
What plans and projects do you have for the near future, and are there any particular goals or initiatives we can look forward to in relation to “fobizz” and your other projects?
At fobizz we are currently working intensively on the topic of artificial intelligence. We offer a lot of training around AI and develop tools for teachers to enable them to use AI and save time. For example, we have developed a kind of ChatGPT for schools and are working on an AI that accompanies pupils on their individual learning journey. As there are always new developments in this area, we are all learning all the time and it’s a lot of fun.
Further information on Dr Diana Knodel
Dr Diana Knodel has expertise in computer science, psychology and educational research. She is the founder and managing director of “fobizz”, a leading training platform in German-speaking countries specialising in AI tools and applications for teaching staff and schools. Before embarking on this path, she held numerous positions in science and business. In 2014, she laid the foundation for the non-profit organisation “App Camps” and only four years later, in 2018, she founded the educational company fobizz. Her main goal is to integrate digital skills into classrooms and actively accompany schools in their digital transformation.
More information about the startup fobizz
Founded in 2018, fobizz is the first German-language professional development platform and provider of tools and AI for teachers and schools. In doing so, fobizz has set itself the task of advancing the digitalisation of teaching and enabling teachers to impart knowledge from the fields of artificial intelligence, media and IT to their students in a simple and practical way. fobizz sees itself in the role of a daily companion for teachers in order to relieve them in their everyday teaching.
Since its foundation, the fobizz team has already supported over 5,000 schools and more than 300,000 teachers in German-speaking countries. With over 300 certified self-learning courses and more than 20 digital practical aids, the company provides teachers with the tools to make their lessons interactive, effective and digital.
Hamburgische Investitions- und Förderbank and IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH have supported the company from the very beginning. The start-up received funding through the InnoFounder programme, which supports innovative, particularly digital or sustainability-oriented projects by founding teams or individuals.
Link to the event: