Where I am today.

The last time I published some thoughts here was quite some time – literally: years! – ago. In the meantime, I sold and dismantled my last startup and decided to take a break. It was urgently needed: I was burnt out and thoroughly fed up with a lot of aspects of entrepreneurial life. I also felt as if I couldn’t see the bigger picture any more – I was so lost, I needed to step back from it all and give myself time to heal.

Since closing the doors behind my last startup almost a year ago, I’ve been doing a bunch of smaller and larger projects, both personal and professional. I did a few consulting projects, amongst them a challenging but very satisfying project with great colleagues at Summer&Co, and I invested time in furthering my own education and skillset by looking more deeply into the world of business coaching, enganging with the fantastic team at scale up in Munich. I’m also greatly looking forward to intensifying my connections with enable2grow this year, where I feel that I will be able to leverage my skills and experience to generate real and lasting impact for clients in various branches of industry.

I am also currently reviewing my diaries that I wrote over the last ten years. Most entries are from the time I spent building Fast Forward Imaging, going through a lot of highs and lows along the way. I’ve realised that these diaries are three things: first, a treasure trove of information. How did I approach building my sixth startup, which mistakes did I make and where did we really manage to shine? Second, they are a reflection on the personal transformation that founders face when their dreams of building and scaling a company become reality. And thirdly, they are a brutally honest account of dealing with failure, large and small.

The combination of reading my diary and the work I have been doing with scale up has sparked an idea: the Scaleup Women project. I recently came across a British study showing that 40% of scaleups in the UK have women on their leadership teams. However, only 20% of startups in the UK are founded or co-founded by women, which leads to some interesting questions:

  • Are startups that have women in their founding teams more likely to become scaleups?
  • Can a startup increase its chances of becoming a scaleup by hiring women for their leadership teams?
  • What exactly is the influence that women in leadership roles have on companies in an intense growth phase?

I want to start an ongoing discussion with women in scaling companies to see where our experiences overlap or differ. I have no idea where this will lead – a book, a podcast, or quite simply a blog – but I believe that if we want to change the situation of women in the startup world, there is little better we can do than making it crystal clear what positive impact women have on companies in their growth phase.

So if you know a Scaleup Woman, I’d love to meet her 🙂

Here is a link to some further info on the project and my thoughts surrounding it: https://annarojahn.com/scaleup-women-2/

The Equality Dilemma, or: How Far Will Leaning In Really Get You?


Disclaimer: I have yet to read Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ – my current thoughts are based on an brief overview I received during a workshop with the Berlin Geekettes and an impression I’ve formed through some of the commentaries on the book in the press and my direct circle of friends. I will try and post an update on this when I’ve actually read the book (and possibly pour out a whole bucket of ashes over my head, shouting out ‘Mea culpa! Mea culpa!’ when I do).

I recently joined a group of 60-or-so women for the first of two Berlin Geekettes workshops on Sheryl Sandberg’s book. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but started feeling extremely uncomfortable only about ten minutes into the first session. Why? I’ll get to that in a moment.

Continue reading “The Equality Dilemma, or: How Far Will Leaning In Really Get You?”



It is pretty much impossible right now to be discussing women in the tech and startup world in Berlin without coming across my third interviewee, Jess Erickson. Jess founded the Berlin Geekettes network, and is currently busy building the Berlin base for General Assembly. Meeting Jess is easy – she seems to be everywhere at once – but finding time to sit down for a quiet chat is actually a bit of a challenge. However we finally manage to get together at Kommerzpunk, one of Jess’ favourite spots. Continue reading “Jess.”



On a greyish morning, Lars and I go and visit Maria Molland, Head of European operations at fab.com. fab’s Berlin headquarters – an old ground floor factory loft in a Kreuzberg backyard – is warm and bright and colourful. Maria, having just returned from a trip to the States, is certainly much more lively than I tend to be when I’m struggling with jet-lag, so we jump right in.

Continue reading “Maria.”



My second interviewee is Linsey Fryatt, the Managing Editor of Berlin-based online startup magazine Venture Village. Linsey has been a part of the entrepreneurial scene in Berlin for a year now, and looks at it wearing a journalist’s hat most of the time. I contacted Linsey because I wanted that exact perspective: the views of someone who has been in Berlin long enough to know her way around; someone who is not a founder herself but intimately linked with this very particular parallel universe.

Continue reading “Linsey.”



Over lunch at a Japanese restaurant in the heart of Berlin’s Mitte district, Franziska von Hardenberg, founder of Bloomydays (a successful subscription-based flower delivery service) offers her own perspective on being a woman entrepreneur:

“Actually, there are many occasions – events, panel discussions, conferences – where I’ve been the only woman. However, I think the whole discussion is overrated. And, to be perfectly honest – it’s something that you can use to your own advantage so easily!

Continue reading “Franziska.”

Berlin’s Women Entrepreneurs


Since Marissa Mayer’s appointment as CEO of Yahoo, the media spotlight has gone in search of female senior managers in tech companies and female entrepreneurs. But the harsh spotlight is revealing – in some cases – unpleasant detail. Women speaking out about serious gender bias, describing experiences of mobbing and ridicule, and telling stories of glass ceilings letting careers fall short of their potential.

In what ways is the situation of women in tech and tech-driven startups different from the position of women in other industries? First of all, it probably isn’t, depending on the angle from which you look at it. However there are some significant differences that make the topic interesting enough for some further exploration.

Continue reading “Berlin’s Women Entrepreneurs”