Female representation at the executive level in the SaaS platform industry received a welcome boost with the recent appointment of experienced corporate leader, Birgit Thümecke, as the new CEO of the global events platform, Eventerprise.com.
Birgit brings a wealth of executive leadership, business development, and corporate governance experience to the role, including a successful tenure as CEO of Lufthansa’s customer service network which comprised 1,800 team members across seven global locations. She has a proven track record of growing distributed organizations, developing revenue streams, and building partnerships.
With female executives still a rare species in the tech industry, each new addition should be applauded as a step in the right direction. It is also good news for the events industry, where women are plentiful at SMEs and at the operational level, but woefully under-represented at board level, especially at larger enterprises.
Birgit’s list of achievements grew further in 2018 when she became the proud recipient of a Stevie® Award for Women in Business in the category Female Entrepreneur of the Year (Business Services). The judges emphasized her drive and the transformational impact she had on the organizations she worked with as key factors in their decision to award her with a medal.
”I credit my success thus far to a customer-centric approach and my affinity for strategic collaboration which motivates teams to achieve the desired results. I also think my ability to drive key areas such as performance, change management, and resource optimization has played a large role in delivering positive commercial outcomes. Those universal attributes plus a strong focus on the organization-wide leveraging of technology and data analysis are indispensable to the scaling of a SaaS platform like Eventerprise,”
Birgit’s new role is part of a larger organizational restructure that is aimed at providing optimal support for the Swiss-registered company in its current phase as it prepares to finance its US market activation by way of a US$1.1 million late-seed round.
Current CEO and fellow co-founder, Götz Thümecke, will be moving to the CTO role to make better use of his extensive product development experience and technical insights. As CTO, he will focus on optimizing existing products and features as well as developing new ones in conjunction with the engineering, UX, and SEO teams.
According to the outgoing CEO, “In business, it is crucial to do the right thing at the right time if you want to get to the next level. Making this change now makes a lot of sense at this stage of the company’s evolution and will set us up for success in the next phase. I have the utmost confidence in Birgit’s abilities as a leader and I know she will drive the business forward on all fronts. I’m looking forward to devoting my energy to the development side of things so that we can keep on delivering the best possible products and services to our users and customers.”
Third co-founder, Charlie Wright, will remain in position as domain expert with the title of Event Entrepreneur, due to his impressive track record of founding and exiting highly successful businesses within the events industry. The high regard with which he is held in the industry has motivated several leading international entrepreneurs and event business leaders to provide more than $2 million in seed funding.
The executive team will be supported by two experienced Vice Presidents who will look after the key areas of Sales & Marketing and Strategic Partnerships respectively.
VP of Growth, Barry Blassoples, has been with the team for three years and can be considered a bona fide programmatic marketing guru, having managed over $7 million in digital marketing spend for well-known brands such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and the Betway Group. Barry’s key focus will be the twin components of market activation, i.e. demand generation by driving traffic to the platform and revenue operations in the shape of subscriptions and add-on services.
The new VP for Strategic Partnerships, Jason Williamson, will focus on business development through cooperation agreements with various partners across the globe. An MBA-graduate, Jason has honed his negotiation skills by developing teams, partner networks and client bases as Director of Operations and Business Development for a specialist technical recruitment agency. His base of operations in Singapore will give him excellent exposure to the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.
Asked how she felt about the restructure and taking on the role of CEO, a confident Birgit responded,
“As co-founder, I have skin in the game and in my existing role as Chief Growth Officer, I already have oversight of various core functions of the business, such as legal matters, compliance issues, strategic partnerships, finance and operations, as well as stakeholder engagement and investor relations. So it is a natural progression for me to take over the reigns as CEO during this phase of the platform’s growth path.”
“If you look at our achievements over the past year or so you will notice that I have been deeply involved in or led most of our key activities. For example, expanding our globally distributed ‘hub-and-spoke’ organization, overseeing a rigorous due-diligence process in conjunction with an SEC-registered investment bank, and pitching Eventerprise investment and partnership opportunities to leading entrepreneurs and angel investors in Dubai, San Francisco and Los Angeles. That’s in addition to being in charge of our financial model, finalizing the details of our current late-seed round (including the use of funds), and overseeing the successful implementation of accounting systems, tax compliance and legal status in three different jurisdictions – South Africa, Switzerland, and the US,” she added.
To ram the point home that her new position cannot be seen as mere window dressing, Birgit was at pains to point out that she had the most senior corporate background in the team and was no stranger to boardroom power games where she would often be the only woman. The experience has gifted her with the nous to sniff out any form of bias and the finesse to deal with it in a firm but constructive manner.
The new SaaS CEO has a busy schedule ahead of her with a US roadshow lined up for May 2019. Together with VP of Growth, Barry Blassoples, she will be supporting Silicon Valley entrepreneur and experienced Angel investor, Peter Henry, who is leading Eventerprise’s investment outreach in the US. Included in their itinerary is a series of pitch events in the Midwest, organized by the Chicago chapter of Keiretsu Forum, a leading global angel investor network with more than 2,500 accredited investors.
“Taking on the CEO title at Eventerprise acknowledges the leadership role Birgit Thumecke has brought to the company from its very start. Birgit brings vision, focus, clarity, and the rare combination of experience growing and leading both a nascent startup as well as large corporate organizations with thousands of people. With her being the leader and key representative of the business to the investment community and the world, I believe Eventerprise will not just succeed at its mission but thrive and set the standard for great execution. Congratulations Birgit; bravo, and I’m excited to be a part of the journey!”
– Peter Henry, Managing Partner, Act 5 Ventures LLC, San Francisco, CA
She extends an open invitation to interested parties, “Our main aim with this roadshow is to finalize the rest of the funding for our $1.1 million late-seed round which will mostly be used for a market activation exercise in Los Angeles to prove product-market fit. With 25% already in the bag, thanks to support from some event industry heavyweights, we’re confident we’ll reach our funding goal. We’ll be spending most of our time in the Chicago and San Francisco areas where we’ll be happy to meet with individuals or organizations interested in the investment and/or collaboration opportunities that an early-stage SaaS platform with massive growth potential offers.”
As a Credit Suisse survey of 3,400 companies discovered, those companies with more diverse management structures tend to perform better across a range of performance indicators, including market value and profit. With only 24 women leading a Fortune 500 company and only five women counted among the top 50 SaaS CEOs, there is an obvious opportunity here, ripe for the picking by savvy investors.