‘There’s a gap for events where women can exchange advice on their start-up journey’

29 Aug 2018

Aisling Keegan, vice-president and general manager for Dell EMC Ireland. Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

Aisling Keegan from Dell EMC Ireland tells us about the Supper Clubs the company hosts with GirlCrew and how they are bringing women entrepreneurs together to swap stories and share advice.

Dell EMC Ireland, in partnership with GirlCrew, has been hosting a Supper Club series in Dublin. The initiative was started to support women entrepreneurs as they work to grow their businesses and their networks, and the events have been tailored to encourage the women attending to share stories and advice.

Attendees also have the opportunity to speak with experts from Dell EMC on a range of topics such as sales, management, logistics, legal advice, marketing and business development. Aisling Keegan, vice-president and general manager for Dell EMC Ireland, explains more about the series and how it came about.

Three women dressed in smart casual attire gather in front of a trellis covered with ivy and decorated with fairy lights

From left: Pamela Newenham, co-founder, GirlCrew; Louise Dunne, co-founder, Glissed; and Iseult Ward, co-founder, FoodCloud. Image: Q4PR

How did the Dell EMC Supper Club partnership with GirlCrew begin?

GirlCrew is all about fun, friendship and networking. It’s a start-up in its own right which has a huge reach here in Ireland and around the world. It has a specific entrepreneur vertical, which is the network of females Dell EMC wants to engage with.

At Dell EMC Ireland, we have a strong track record of supporting entrepreneurs. We have an entrepreneur in residence and a dedicated Dell Entrepreneurs programme providing mentorship, support and access to financing.

Dell EMC Ireland also believes that there is a great opportunity to support female entrepreneurs. In response to the disparities faced by women in starting and growing their businesses, the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) was founded in 2010. The programme is focused on creating and fostering a community of like-minded women founders who are looking for ways to grow around the globe. Through the Dell EMC Supper Clubs, we found that we could bring the benefits of DWEN closer to home in Ireland.

What kind of atmosphere or environment do you aim for with the Supper Club events?

We aim for a relaxed atmosphere. It’s an intimate group of people who attend our Dell EMC Supper Clubs, so feeling comfortable enough to mingle, meet new people and share their journeys is key.

At each Dell EMC Supper Club, we bring 20 female entrepreneurs together around a table and, while having dinner, they share their experiences and successes. It’s important for us that the attendees are at similar stages on their start-up journey as we know from our experience of working with entrepreneurs that people get great advice and ideas from networking with peers. Through the Dell EMC Supper Club, we are facilitating and encouraging this kind of relationship building and exchange of ideas.

Why do you think there has been such a strong response from professional women to networks such as GirlCrew and events such as this?

I think there’s a gap for events where female entrepreneurs can exchange advice on their start-up journey. Having received feedback from women entrepreneurs around the globe, what they consistently highlight is the value of fostering a network and facilitating the exchange of ideas with other female entrepreneurs. It’s invaluable in helping them to grow their businesses.

‘Something that strikes me at the events is how open and willing to share their experience all of the speakers have been so far’

A gathering of women sit at outdoor tables with glasses of wine, watching a panel of three women speakers

A Dell EMC Supper Club in action. Image: Q4PR

Have there been Supper Club moments that stood out for you?

Something that strikes me at the events is how open and willing to share their experience all of the speakers have been so far. This immediately creates a welcoming and open atmosphere at the Dell EMC Supper Clubs, and I find it encourages attendees to be that bit more willing to share advice and talk about their journeys so far with their fellow entrepreneurs.

One speaker in particular who has stood out to me is Louise Dunne from Glissed. There was a great buzz that night as Louise animatedly explained her journey and business to us. Louise’s business allows people to book hair and beauty appointments at home, at work or in hotels prior to events, so I think all of us females in the room that night praised her practical business idea!

Have you faced any challenges getting the series up and running?

We’re lucky enough that there haven’t been any major challenges in setting this series up. Working closely with GirlCrew, they organise these types of events on a regular basis, which means it’s been smooth sailing on that side of things. From the Dell EMC side, we understand that there’s a need for female entrepreneur networking events where women can come and exchange ideas and advice, so encouraging our team members to attend has been understandably easy!

Who would be your dream guest to have speak at a Supper Club event?

I would love to have Michelle Obama speak at a Dell EMC Supper Club. Although she is best known for her role and work as the former First Lady and wife of Barack Obama, Michelle will most certainly leave her own legacy, separate from her husband’s. With her passion for empowering women, she would be an interesting speaker for our audience. During her time as First Lady, she launched the Let Girls Learn programme as a way to help give young women across the globe greater access to education. A truly inspiring woman.

The next Dell EMC Supper Club is due to take place in October. The date will be announced through GirlCrew social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.