As part of our Female Founders series, we spoke to Nicola Kienzle, co-founder of Metarina, creators of state-of-the-art marina management software, connecting marinas and boaters. Nicola discusses how a passion for sailing inspired her business ambitions, and how she dealt with gender stereotypes in the maritime industry.
What motivated you to start your own business in the leisure marine industry?
Starting a business in the leisure marine industry was a convergence of my passion for water and sailing activities as a captain and the gap I identified in the market. I saw an opportunity to bring innovation, digitalisation and a fresh perspective to an industry I care deeply about.
As a female founder in a traditionally male-dominated sector, what specific challenges did you face, and how did you overcome these challenges?
Being a female founder in a male-dominated sector came with its share of challenges, from scepticism to gender bias. Overcoming these obstacles required resilience, building a strong support network and consistently demonstrating our expertise. I focused on the quality of our work, showcasing our skills and gradually breaking down stereotypes through our achievements.
Can you highlight instances where being a female founder presented unique opportunities or advantages in the leisure marine sector?
Being a female founder has opened doors to networks and mentorship opportunities that are actively supporting women-led businesses. I have been able to leverage these connections for guidance, partnerships, and access to resources that have proven instrumental in the growth of Metarina. Overall, being a woman in the leisure marine industry has not only allowed us to challenge stereotypes but has also positioned us to capitalise on the industry's shifting dynamics towards greater inclusivity.
Maintaining a work-life balance is crucial for entrepreneurs, how have you managed this?
Achieving work-life balance is an ongoing process. I prioritise tasks, delegate effectively and set realistic expectations. Embracing technology has allowed me to work remotely and flexibly, giving me the freedom to attend to personal commitments without compromising my business responsibilities. Regular self-care practices and staying connected with loved ones also contribute to a healthier balance.
For women considering entrepreneurship in the leisure marine sector, what advice would you share based on your own experiences?
My advice would be to stay true to your passion and vision. See challenges as opportunities to grow and prove yourself. Build a strong support system, seek mentorship from experienced people in the industry and surround yourself with like-minded people who share your values. Don't be afraid to express your ideas and bring your unique perspective to the table.
Looking ahead, what are your business plans and goals for 2024?
In 2024, our focus is on sustainable growth and expanding our business reach. We plan to continue to introduce innovative solutions, strengthen partnerships and increase our presence in the marine industry. Furthermore, we are targeting to close our seed funding round with passionate investors with industry expertise to grow the business together. We aim to be a leading force for positive change, both in business practices and in the culture of the marina industry.