"I want to make a difference," says Lena Leis, initiator of the start-up TechBloomz and alumna of TUM School of Management. A semester abroad in Colombia with TUMExchange in 2014 changed her life forever. Now she wants to give single mothers in Latin America a chance for a better future.
In turn, the young female tech talents should make it easier for German companies to find skilled workers and even tailor their skills to the company's specific needs. Her efforts to promote equal opportunities have already been recognized. It won the Business Model Award at the ASAP BW competition for its progressive concept. It is time to learn more about this highly motivated start-up founder.
How did the idea came about?
Lena Leis: "Through the TUM exchange program, I had the opportunity to study at UNAL in Colombia for six months in 2014. I was exposed to the normal life of a wealthy family and their domestic worker. She participated in the family's life 24/7, but she was not part of the family. 2 years ago, I observed the same scenario. But this time it was a young single mother who left her own children on the coast of Colombia because she had no other option. When I came back, I wanted to make a change.”
How did you start the change?
Lena Leis: "In April 2023, I started TechBloomz. I want to mediate between organizations and mothers. We are the supportive partner that single mothers are missing. So, we provide day care for the kids and a learning friendly workplace for the mums to get trained and prepared for the digital age. We are partnering with existing coding bootcamps that offer front-end, back-end and data analytics tracks, as well as English and soft skills. We are also working with local foundations to help us find single mothers in need for our pilot, which we will launch in early 2024 in San Cristóbal, a poor area of the capital Bogotá, and Riohacha, La Guajira".
How were your first steps in the start-up scene like?
Lena Leis: "As a founder, you have every role, and it takes longer than you think. But networking is key, and it is up to you to build it. I found my way to Campus Founders and one thing led to another. During the incubation program I got help with coaches, workshops, a creative work environment and networking, which was very helpful especially as a solo founder. But I also realized how well-prepared I was already because of some of my courses of TUM School of Management. Courses such as writing a business plan, consulting Social Start-ups together with the Social Entrepreneurship Academy, learning early that in entrepreneurship failing fast and taking great learnings from it is more important than being perfect. This knowledge gave me a sense and confidence of how it would be to run my own start-up.
I also see now the great effort of TUM enhancing entrepreneurship with a close collaboration with UnternehmerTUM or offering programs like CDTM. I felt I am coming from an entrepreneurial university and thus, have a strong network of other founders, research and possible investors behind me.
After the incubator, I joined the German Accelerator Kickstarter LatAm, which was a door opener to the network in Latin America. Along the way, I have amazing mentors that I can reach out to and who support me with guidance, contacts, or their expertise.”
What makes TechBloomz special?
Lena Leis: "The social entrepreneurship approach. We are not just another coding bootcamp provider that is mainly based on a remote environment. But if you don't have the conditions to learn at home, and you don't have access to internet and hardware, these remote offerings, even if they are free, are not serving the poor. We want to overcome this barrier and provide more equal opportunities with an approach that uplifts an entire family. At TechBloomz, we have a social non-profit side and a for-profit side. We help German companies looking for tech talent and use part of the commission for the social project. The tech talent could be either the single mum who gets trained and hired through TechBloomz or a talent with a very specific and advanced skill set that we find for the company.”
What are your plans for the future?
Lena Leis: "I am currently in Bogotá, Colombia, to build partnerships, expand my network and better understand the specific needs of single mothers in Latin America. I am bootstrapping TechBloomz, but I require an initial investment to start the first pilot with 15 single mothers to create a proof of concept. Therefore, I am currently looking for sponsors. If this is going well I want to expand to other also rural areas of Colombia and even Latin America. I will continue my journey as long as I can afford it. Hopefully, investors will take notice so we can continue to grow the network and help more single mums and businesses.”
Learn more about TechBloomz: https://techbloomz.com