Kick-ass female founders on a mission to change the world | With BALANCE Magazine

March 2020

On the first day of Fora’s week-long programme of events to celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, four exceptional businesswomen met in the atrium at Fora – Spitalfields to share their experiences.

More than just tips on starting your own business, this was an opportunity for the audience to share the passion that had driven their success and to be inspired by the panel, rightly billed as kick-ass female founders on a mission to change the world. 

 

The event was co-hosted with BALANCE, an honest advice platform for a healthy, happy and balanced lifestyle. BALANCE founder Sophie Scott was joined by Saasha Celestial-One, founder of the OLIO app which aims to tackle food waste and, in the process, the climate crisis. Also on the panel was Sam Moyo, founder of Morning Gloryville, whose sober raves have pioneered a new era of clubbing and socialising. Fora was represented too by our own co-founder Katrina Larkin.

Each founder had their own unique story. Sam had grown up in Zimbabwe, highly influenced by the devastation wrought by the Aids epidemic; Katrina talked of her upbringing as a strong-willed child on the west coast of Ireland; Saasha described how she had had a hippy childhood in rural Iowa. As different as each founder’s background was, it was also striking how each of them had been driven to turn their visions into reality and the similar lessons they had learned on the way.

“It’s difficult to define exactly when your business venture starts. If you have the idea inside you then you’ve already started,” said Katrina. Each of the panel had a vivid memory of those initial steps as entrepreneurs. “Naivety is a good thing,” observed Sophie. “I wouldn’t have started my business if I’d known what was involved.” Each had to overcome their initial self doubts, steadily growing in confidence as they progressed. “Find the smallest version of your idea that doesn’t fill you with fear, and start with that,” advised Saasha.

 

Each founder had a clear mission that drove their business forward. Katrina talked about her first business as founder of the Big Chill Festival and her desire to transform the music and networking scene, starting at the age of 24 with just £45 in her pocket. Sophie talked about the huge potential of the $4.2 trillion global Wellness economy. “Everyone should benefit from content that maximises health and happiness,” she said. “It shouldn’t just be for the few.”

Sam’s mission for Morning Gloryville was partly driven by her own need to find an alcohol-free party environment, but she found that there was a willing audience who shared her vision. “We listened to our needs, but also to what others needed to hear in order to decide to come,” she said. The first sober rave was not a commercial success but it was still the beginning of a movement. “We concentrated on making every single person feel loved and they felt like they owned it,” remembers Sam. “We lost £600 on the first event but the venue said let’s do it again because it felt so good.”

There are challenges to overcome, of course, particularly for female founders. “It’s significantly easier to pitch for funding if there’s a female investor in the room. The venture capital industry is not diverse enough,” observed Saasha. But there is a lot of support for women starting their own businesses too. “If you have a strong mission you can go a long way without funds as people will help you,” said Saasha. Sophie had a simple piece of advice. “Ask for help. It’s amazing how eager people are to help you succeed.” 

The panel of female founders was a testament to the rewards of backing yourself and pursuing your mission to change the world. They now act as mentors for a new generation of female entrepreneurs. The success they have achieved isn’t measured simply in financial terms. “I don’t think winning is about getting the financial maximum. We don’t all have to optimise for the same outcome,” said Saasha. Each had the satisfaction of turning their vision into reality. “Block out the noise of people who don’t believe in you,” advised Katrina. “You can make your life any way you want to.”

 

Fora is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2020 with a week-long series of empowering events. Find out more and book tickets via our What’s On page.