Female Founders Series: Marie Salomonova and Eva Knirschova

Written by
Gabriela Dittrichova
Published on
August 10, 2022

Both female entrepreneurs, Maria and Eva, were inspired to start their businesses in their early years. Eva set up a company when she was 15, Marie started after she returned from her studies in the UK. They both encourage women to not be afraid when launching a startup. If you want to become an entrepreneur, join the Startup Challenge today for a chance to pitch your business idea to the leading venture capitalists and female founders in the Czech Republic. 

Marie Salomonova

Marie Femme Palette.jpeg

Marie is the co-founder and CEO of Nevypusť Duši, organising campaigns and workshops in the Czech Republic about mental health. 

What inspired you to start your own business?

I was mostly inspired by what I experienced during my studies in the UK. There were several organisations and initiatives talking openly about mental health and illness and helping young people prevent mental health difficulties. Once I got together with our co-founder and my friend Tereza Růžičková, who had similar experience, we discussed how it would be great to have a movement like this in the Czech Republic. Both of us also experienced mental health difficulties at a very young age and we had a very strong vision about making a change in the field of mental health care in the Czech Republic.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt with your start-up? 

Our start-up is a non-profit NGO, however I have learnt over a quite short period of time, that even a non-profit can hugely benefit from a good business plan and a well organised financial strategy. The most important lesson I learnt was, however cliche it may sound, that people are the most important asset - starting from the closest coworkers and the relationships we have built, all the way to the great network of incredible people that I have met on my journey so far, including journalists, other founders, business men a women and of course, all our donors - no matter how much they have contributed to our cause.

How would you comment on the situation of female entrepreneurs in Czechia?

In the past years I have met several amazing young female entrepreneurs and founders. One of the things I appreciate very much is that their non-profits as well as businesses are often socially responsible. It is not always easy being a woman in the start-up / business community, however I feel like in the past two years there has also been a lot of support from all sorts of different projects, such as Atairu authentic leadership stipends, mentoring and networking opportunities and others. Of course there is rivalry on the market, but that is not a "women thing", that just comes with the whole experience. What I have gained from the community of women founders is predominantly a lot of informal as well as formal support and encouragement.

Eva Knirschova

Eva Femme Palette.jpeg

Eva is the CEO of Eventegy, an event agency, and Reshoper, expo and conference for e-commerce. She founded her first business at the age of 15 and believes women have the same possibilities as men, but they have to trust in themselves.

What inspired you to start your own business?

As a 12-year-old, I started horse riding. I didn’t have enough money to buy equipment, so I made it myself. After a while, I started DYI-ing also for other girls in the barns. At the age of 15, I was selling my products online, and before I realized it, a friend of mine was helping me with my online presence. During my studies, I was already a full-time entrepreneur, and after 10 years, I decided to sell the company. 

I found myself in the events industry and together with my colleague launched Reshoper, expo and conference for the Czech and Slovak e-commerce community. Simultaneously, I was helping organize other events in Czechia and abroad. Due to the rising demand, together with our team, we founded an event agency called Eventegy which helps clients with marketing, production, and business questions related to organizing events.

What was the biggest lesson you learned with your start-up?

Even if you put maximum effort into preparation, things can turn out differently. That happened with the pandemic which affected the events industry heavily. I learned to rely less on set goals and become more flexible. But I’m not losing hope though. I enjoy the dynamics of running a business that can bring both - successes and failures, time of growth, and reduction. There are always times when things don’t go according to the plan. 

How would you comment on the situation of female entrepreneurs in Czechia? 

This is hard to answer. From my personal point of view, I never faced an obstacle because of my gender. I believe that men and women can get a similar kind of support in various communities. Similarly, we all get access to the same self-development materials - paid for or free. An ambitious woman can succeed in the same way an ambitious man can, it is about people, not gender. 

In your opinion, what is holding women back when starting a business? 

Put simply - themselves. Their approach, potentially fears, prejudice against their surroundings and themselves. There are no legal issues that would discriminate based on gender. Factual obstacles can differ, e.g. starting a family can be more challenging for a woman than a man, physically and mentally. During this time, priorities are changing and there is less space for thinking about business. For some it is temporary, for others it might be forever. Furthermore, it can create problems, especially if people choose not to play the traditional societal roles (e.g. caring mother building a happy home and family). And then it is up to one’s self-confidence and self-trust to say whether I can handle it, trust my instincts, and follow-through. But again, this is the same for men, too. After all, it is about being human, not a man or a woman.  

Great ideas are born every day. For a chance to share your business plan with a professional network and to get constructive feedback, join the Startup Challenge today! You will also have the opportunity to obtain up to 10 mil. CZK investment. So, what are you waiting for?

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