"Stealth Mode" incubator shines spotlight on female founders

Three women from Hamburg now in mentoring programme for early-stage entrepreneurs
11 November 2021
Female Empowerment Symbolbild

Three Hamburg-based female entrepreneurs are taking part in the "Female Incubator Stealth Mode" from September 27 to December 15, 2021 in Factory Hammerbrooklyn managed by Factory Berlin. The scheme is being held simultaneously in Berlin to counteract the severe underrepresentation of women founders, who account for merely 15.7 per cent nationwide. Around 84.3 per cent of start-ups are founded by men, according to the Female Founders Monitor 2020

Factory Berlin's 4,500 strong network from 70 nations

Launched in 2014 as a co-working space and start-up campus, Factory Berlin has morphed into an interdisciplinary network with over 4,500 members from over 70 nations. It attracts stakeholders in technological fields, science, music, art and culture, solo entrepreneurs, start-ups and large companies, who come together to create and innovate. Stealth Mode targets women and non-binary founders of early-stage (tech) start-ups with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or prototype. Mentoring focuses on values and transferring expertise for building a successful company.

Factory Hammerbrooklyn's Stealth Mode 

Opened in May 2021, Factory Hammerbrooklyn is housed in a converted Expo Pavilion, first showcased in Milan, and now offers co-working spaces on five floors where the community can come together and exchange ideas. The three are among twelve finalists in the scheme, for which 118 hopeful applicants had applied.

ACTup to cope with stress

Among the finalists is Diana Huth, founder of ACTitude and who recently completed nextMedia.Hamburg's MEDIA LIFT. A psychologist and media producer by profession, Huth’s platform helps people to cope better with stress. After using videos and podcasts initially, the start-up is preparing to launch its Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) online course in November. Huth hopes to be reimbursed by health insurance companies as stress-related downtime can mean high costs for employers. Thus, successful stress management is in a company's best interests and can be economically viable. 


Diana Huth, founder of ACTitude, and participant in Stealth Mode
© Meklit Fekadu Tsige
Diana Huth
Britta Wiebe, founder of Vulvani, and participant in Stealth Mode
© Vulvani
Britta Wiebe, founder of Vulvani

Vulvani removing taboos about menstruation

Launched in 2020 by Britta Wiebe and Jamin Mahmood at the University of Hamburg, the Vulvani digital education platform on menstruation, healthy menstrual cycles and sexuality aims to normalise tabooed subjects in an entertaining, educational manner to empower people and create inclusive societies. 

To this end, the Hamburg-based start-up offers interactive online courses three of which are available in German and two in English. It also produces an online magazine and is active on diverse social media. Knowledge gaps are closed simply and playfully by publishing, for instance, stock photos of real menstrual blood instead of a blue replacement fluid. The company has received funds from Hamburg's IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH’ its InnoFounder scheme.

re:love cosmetics made of ground coffee

Elnura Ashimova, founder of re:love cosmetics, is the third Hanseatic participant in Stealth Mode. The experienced founder of the yoga start-up 8minyoga is now branching out into the world of natural cosmetics. To this end, she is relying on popular upcycling in which by-products, waste materials or unwanted products are transformed into new materials or better-quality products. 

After using ground coffee as an exfoliator in the past, Ashimova is now making it the basis of her cosmetics collection. So far, the founder has come up with two scrubs and a facial oil. Other products made from date seeds and lemon peel are to follow. Upcycling still holds many opportunities, she stressed.

Stealth Mode
© Meklit Fekadu Tsige
Elnura Ashimova

Stealth Mode already making a difference

All twelve Stealth Mode participants have received extensive support since late September. Each participant is matched with a personal mentor and attends regular workshops and training sessions on business issues. The highlight is a Demo Day on December 15, which should raise the visibility of the start-ups.

Factory Berlin's vast network seeks to empower, support and to forge many valuable contacts. Seven start-ups in previous incubators later received funding. One mentor has become an investor, and two participants have set up new companies together. Stealth Mode is likely to make even more headlines in Hamburg