05 May, 2016 by Thomas Joykutty

As part of Deloitte’s sponsorship of London Business Schools’ innovation and entrepreneurship programme, Deloitte subject matter experts are asked to provide guidance and advice to startups in LBS’ (London Business Schools) incubator. I was asked to support Colmeia, an interesting app that supports business networking. For this week’s post, I asked Colmeia’s founder, Andrea Sommer to share her experience in founding the startup and more info about Colmeia.

Andrea Sommer:

 No single activity elicits as much fear and dread in people as does networking. It can feel disingenuous – even “sleazy” - and has left me wondering more than once whether my time was well spent. As a woman who has worked in a traditionally male industry, I’ve felt even more pressure to network and seek mentorship to get ahead professionally. Unfortunately, the fear of hearing “no” or being branded a stereotype often held me back.

 This notion, which other women may also share in, stands in clear contrast to what countless business leaders (women and men!) tell us about the importance of mentorship and making connections. Both are critical to growing a business or advancing a career, but are often undervalued.

 Women entrepreneurs may be suffering the most from this. From what the latest stats tell us, women entrepreneurs lack access to networks critical for raising capital. While bias certainly plays a role, it can also be difficult for women to naturally network in male-dominated fields, the implications of which are missed opportunities and connections that are vital to building a business. 

 As someone with a background in tech, I’ve been interested in understanding how technology could solve this very human problem – bridging gaps in confidence essentially – in a meaningful way. In the context of networking, I wanted to know whether technology could enhance in-person meetings in an organic and discreet way.

 This curiosity laid the foundation for my own venture, Colmeia, that will use the power of technology to break these barriers and empower networkers at all levels. The single focus of Colmeia is to improve the networking experience. We do this by leveraging the power inherent in a mobile device with the latest geolocation and analytics technology to ensure a networker never forgets a valuable contact again. Colmeia means “beehive” in Portuguese – and like a hive, the technology will help create a sense of connectedness and bring people closer.

 In some ways, entrepreneurship is the next frontier for women in our quest for equality and networking is a powerful tool in this effort. Deloitte has been a huge partner in this endeavour, recognizing the unique role technology can play in empowering people and the way they interact with one another. This is clearly the next wave in tech innovation and an exciting space to be in. It’s why I started Colmeia and why I believe it can fundamentally change the way people meet and learn from one another.  


Twitter: @thecolmeia