Sophie's Startup Story
This is Sophie, Escape School Alum and Founder of Mindset Summit. Here she share’s her startup story…
1. What business have you started and why?
In January 2017, I co-founded some science classes for little ones (whoohsPop.com) as Hannah and I had experienced first-hand with our children how curious and inquisitive they were and we wanted to nurture that and pass that love of science to kids from an early age. A year later, January 2018, I am about to launch an online summit, to help mums regain confidence in themselves and use it to find flexible work they love – The Mindset Shift Summit. Becoming a mother is the most beautiful thing but it also brings a lot of challenges from an identity point of view. I also believe that this is a very personal journey and that we have to find what resonates with us – that’s why I’m bringing together 25+ experts offering advice and tools to get career confident again.
2. What were you doing before?
I was working 3-days a week as Head of Loyalty for Avis Car Rental. I spent the last 10 years working for this organisation. I started in the call centre in Barcelona as an agent taking reservations, moved to the HQ in the UK, working in a variety of roles across the commercial function – from sales, partnership, brand & online marketing, commercial lead for the franchise markets across the world, led strategic projects for the board and headed the international loyalty programme. I loved what I was doing and the impact I could have on the international teams and customers… but after having had my daughters, it was time for something else for me… what? That was the question!
3. How did you begin your entrepreneurial journey?
Since I got my daughters, flexibility in my work became key – I still wanted to be mentally challenged but also so badly wanted to spend time with the girls. I looked for flexible/part-time roles at a mid-senior level but really struggled. This is where the crazy idea of maybe starting a business came from. The challenge is having only worked for large companies, I had NO clue where to start!! This is where I joined Escape The City’s Startup Tribe in Sep 2016 – it really helped me to be confident in my idea and gave me the tools I was missing and process to launch my business.
4. What have been some key milestones since then?
For WhooshPop, running 2 trial classes in Nov 2016, official launch in Jan 2017, added a second class in Sep 2017 and featured in the local newspaper in Dec 2017. For The Mindset Shift Summit, a survey to the mums in Jun 2016, a Facebook group in Jul 2017, 30+ speakers who agreed to speak at the summit in Nov-Dec 2017, feature in 5 major newsletters in Jan 2018 and the summit going live on 30th Jan 2018 – arghhh, crazy.
5. What was the best advice you received/most helpful thing you did?
Validate my ideas quickly by putting it in front of customers and getting stuff out there in the world even if far from perfect (probably the hardest thing for me too!!).
6. What was the hardest part and how to did you overcome it?
As just said, getting a prototype out there without being perfect and doing everything myself. I realised I always had teams or agencies to execute on my behalf (I know… lucky me!!). When starting a business, you are the main “everything” and I had to learn how to implement everything. I love learning new things but it takes much longer and frustrates me sometimes!
7. How do you feel you’ve changed during the process of launching and running your own business?
I refocused on myself, invested time to learn new things, surround myself with like-minded people and I am more confident to say what I am doing. I am kinder to myself, accept that things always take longer than you expect and enjoy the process. I am still afraid of not knowing what will the future brings and how different it is to what I was doing (and enjoyed) before but I put myself out there and do it anyway!
8. What are you focusing on now?
The Mindset Shift Summit that will go live on 30th of January for 4 days. It is a FREE online event. I’ll be joined by 25+ inspiring authors, founders, top female executives, coaches and bloggers who will share their best tips with professional mums to refocus on their inner self and strengths, learn new strategies and tactics to stand out from the crowd and use it to find flexible work they love. Mums will go through 4-pillars: Discover who you are, learn to stand out from the crowd, connect with like-minded people and thrive through managing your emotions.
I really hope it can help so many mums to kick-start their journey and hopefully make it less painful than my journey was! There are so many amazing and inspiring speakers joining me – Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen, Annika Lantosca from Digital Mums, Hannah Martin, co-founder of the Talented Ladies Club, 4 inspiring women from the Timewise Power Part Time Top 50, Rebecca Frazer-Thill, coach from Pivot method from Jenny Blake, Deborah O’Sullivan from Ten2Two, Martin Falch, CEO & co-founder at 360 leaders, Ursula Tavender, founder at Mumbelievable and many more! I am so excited. From there… we’ll see!
9. How’s it all feeling?
Finally, good! It took me a while to accept that my career was changing so drastically. I feel I have managed to take the best of my “old self” and with a better understanding of myself, I package it all to pursue some projects I really believe in and want to push to the world. I also love connecting with companies that I love… just for a chat with them. This has now become the lead for some freelancing work which is simply amazing!!! In short, I still feel scared and uncertain about the future, but I am open-minded to opportunities and know that I can inspire others to change too… all I need is being one step ahead.
10. What key advice would you want to share with someone wanting to start their own business?
I was once given this advice and I keep trying to follow it – “when your heart and brain contradict each other’s, follow your heart. It might not work, but that’s the only choice you won’t regret”. If it keeps nagging you, give it a go! By all mean, manage the risk, try it on the side to start with, but go for it, start taking action, one small step at a time and build the momentum. The little wins along the way will fuel your drive, creativity and desire to make it a reality.
11. How can we help you?
Help me spread the word about the Mindset Shift Summit – if you know any mum, mum to be, supportive partners, blogs that might be interested in this content, please get it touch and share the website. Keep being an inspiration to someone, whoever that is… It doesn’t cost anything and can help so much. If you know any companies at growth stage that need some help to grow further commercially, let me know. I’d love to have a chat with them.