Women entrepreneurs: Get out there and share your experiences – and be honest

28 Nov 2018

Image: Sophie Feruch

Sophie Feruch, who spoke at the most recent Dell EMC Supper Club, emphasises the importance of connecting with other women entrepreneurs.

Last week, Dell EMC hosted the third event of its Supper Club series in partnership with GirlCrew. Running as part of Dublin Startup Week, this event brought together 20 women entrepreneurs to share their experiences, lessons learned and success stories over dinner.

The purpose of these events is to nurture women entrepreneurs from blossoming start-up to scale-up success. “We have consistently received feedback from women entrepreneurs from around Ireland highlighting the value of fostering a network and facilitating the exchange of ideas with other female entrepreneurs as invaluable in helping them to grow their businesses,” explained Aisling Keegan, vice-president and commercial general manager of Dell EMC Ireland.

“It’s an exciting and intimate series for us to be involved in, where our team members from Dell EMC have the opportunity to share advice on how to build for growth and scale from day one; how to navigate international markets, embrace digital transformation and access finance.”

At the latest Supper Club, Sophie Feruch, co-founder of AnyGym, delivered an inspiring talk to attendees. “I think everyone learned something from her positive attitude,” said Keegan.

We put some questions to Feruch after her Supper Club experience, about what she has learned as a woman entrepreneur through her career and from the event itself.

‘If you just open up and speak honestly about your experience, there are many people who are going through the same challenges and emotions. This brings a sense of trust to the table’

What would be your start-up’s elevator pitch?

AnyGym is changing the health and fitness industry with the use of live information and putting the power of choice back into the people’s hands. We build healthy lifestyles by allowing instant access to all gyms, helping people choose their preferred atmosphere within a budget, all on their smartphone. Our mission is to bring ‘Freedom to Fitness’!

Was this your first Supper Club?

Yes, and will definitely not be my last!

After attending one of GirlCrew’s events that was aimed at entrepreneurs, I was asked by the organiser, Ci Moulton, to speak at the next Supper Club. It was an opportunity to share stories, experiences and to connect with like-minded women, opening up honestly about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur – the good and the bad.

What do you feel you can gain from an event connecting you with other women entrepreneurs?

What I gain at events such as this is invaluable, personally as well as for my business.

I think the world of business has developed a hard armour, which can discourage you from opening up to people for advice in case it portrays a negative light on yourself and your ability to be an entrepreneur. At events like the GirlCrew Supper Club, it feels like a safe place. An opportunity to share experiences, good and bad, to connect with women who understand the emotional rollercoaster that comes with creating a start-up.

It encourages you to speak more freely of the experience and, most importantly, build a community with long-lasting support, no matter which industry you’re getting into.

‘More people are stepping off the plank and diving in. It’s exhilarating to be a part of’

What other supports have you availed of as an entrepreneur?

We have availed of two Innovation Vouchers from Enterprise Ireland and the Feasibility Grant from Dublin City Local Enterprise Office (LEO), all of which have been an incredible help financially to build our product and get it to an MVP stage. Dublin City LEO continue to support us through advice and networking opportunities.

In terms of support for women entrepreneurs particularly, I haven’t yet availed of any specific programme. However, I am looking into this at the moment as my interest in women’s networking and support is growing.

My main networking support has largely been from GirlCrew. Organised by Ci Moulton, every month a group of us will get together for ‘Badass Women Drinking Gin’, talking through the experiences of being an entrepreneur, the challenges people are facing with their start-ups and any ideas for new start-ups in a relaxed social atmosphere.

Did you learn anything interesting at the Supper Club?

I learned that if you just open up and speak honestly about your experience, there are many people who are going through the same challenges and emotions. This brings a sense of trust to the table, making people feel comfortable, which is when creativity and problem-solving is at its strongest.

Also, for my personal growth, I learned that by putting yourself out there and rising up to the challenge, you realise your own potential, you let go of any limitations and you can create unlimited opportunities.

What’s your assessment of the Dublin start-up scene?

I find the start-up scene in Dublin vibrant. It’s growing every day with more networking events, meet-ups, competitions and support. More people are stepping off the plank and diving in. It’s exhilarating to be a part of.

I think with more and more co-working spaces becoming available, there’s loads of opportunities for start-ups. They offer a place for like-minded people to swap experiences and advice, to collaborate and learn from each other.

The only downside I would say on co-working space is that I find it a little expensive. Nevertheless, the resources and opportunities within these spaces is invaluable.

What would be your advice to other entrepreneurs out there?

Get out there and speak to other entrepreneurs, share your experiences, be open and honest, support each other and grow a community.

Ever heard of the ‘Seinfeld Solution’? Get yourself a calendar and a big red marker. For each day that you carry out a task that contributes to your business, put a big red X over that day. After a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break that chain.

Take one day at a time and build a chain of habits (big or small) that contributes to your end goal.