When you’re a bootstrapped entrepreneur how do you grow your business when writing cheques isn’t always an option?
“I want to break the rules and make new rules because I think that it’s not about being a rebel blindly. It’s about creating a new pathway and I want to do this not so that we get funded, but so that we can actually carve a new pathway for other people to get funded.”
In this episode:
- The immeasurable benefits of strategic partnerships
- Asking for what you need and offering what you have to give
- Aligning investors and partnerships with your purpose
- Breaking the rules to grow on your own terms
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- SheEO Venture: SucSeed
- Social Profiles: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
- SheEO Venture: World’s Biggest Garage Sale
- Social Profiles: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
Vicki: Welcome to Yasmin and Emily. We’re thrilled to have you here today. Can’t wait to discuss how you’re unbelievable you amazing goddesses at bootstrapping your business. But let’s start first by hearing your founder story. Yasmin, you want to tell us a little bit about what you’re doing with your business?
Yas: Sure. Thanks Vicki. Well, our business started really accidentally back in 2013 I thought, how do I solve the donor fatigue problem? And by that I meant everybody’s trying to raise money for so many amazing causes, but not everybody has money to give. So I looked around my house and saw all these dormant goods and things that were under utilized things, things that I had held onto because I felt they were too nice to give to charity and I wasn’t selling them simply because I was too time poor. And so I said to my hubby, look, I’m going to have a garage sale and donate all the money that we raise at the garage sale to a charity. And anyway, all my friends and family then started to give me all of their dormant goods and all of this amazing products started coming into my garage at home. So much so that we could no longer have the garage sale in our garage. So we’ve had actually never had a world’s biggest garage sale in a garage quite ironically. And in 2013 we ended up having about 500 people come to our garage sale in a hall and we generated $15,000 in revenue. We were really wowed by that. And at the time we weren’t a business. So kind of repeat and rinse that three more times, um, over three years where I would take a month of my job to kind of pull together this garage sale concept. And before I knew it, I’d realize that we accidentally created an amazing scalable business addressing the global goals that obviously the sustainable development goals. And we were rescuing millions of kilograms of product quite by accident initially, but now built a business model around it. And our first official World’s Biggest Garage Sale as a business in 2017 generated $150,000 in revenue in a single day and filled a space the size of a football stadium. What happened then is like, how do we actually create this as a business? I can’t travel the world and the states and do World’s Biggest Garage Sales everywhere. So of course we realized when I quit my job all in no plan B and decided to actually understand what the business was behind it. And we realized that we were much like kind of Tedx or park run where we would have this beautiful license, simple model that we could take to other communities and provide them with the toolkit, the partnerships, the resources, and the IP to be able to run their own 100 plus thousand dollar world’s biggest garage sales in their own communities where the community actually benefits from not only the people, the planet, but the profits for purpose.
Vicki: Amazing. And what is your revenue model for this? How do you make money?
Yas: So we make money simply by taking a percentage of revenue from every event. And what we provide in return for that percentage of revenue is we provide the toolkit, the platform, the dashboard, the partnerships and everything that basically fuels the World’s Biggest Garage Sales. All the community needs to do is bring a cause and bring the people and we help power up the most amazing impact event once a year in their own communities for them.
Vicki: That’s an awesome, wow. Okay. Emily, tell us a little bit about you. What are you working on?
Emily: Yeah. So I was born and raised in a chicken farm in the middle of Newfoundland. Swore my entire life that I was not doing anything in agriculture. I wanted to live my life in a suit and that’s was how I was wanting to make a difference in the world. I got to university in 2012 got involved with a group called Enactus. So a volunteer organization of 77,000 university students from around the world and 1400 campuses got involved with the program, I became the team’s president in 2015 and we saw a huge need in northern communities across Canada for food security and food accessibility. So there was communities in our home province that had 95% of people living in them that were unhappy with their food supply. At the time we were watching NASA and the CSA grow fresh produce in space, but no one was concerned about the fact that we needed fresh produce in northern Canada. So we came together as a team, launched what we thought was a lofty idea of building 15 indoor home hydroponic systems. Put an article in the newspaper because we were trying to attract some sponsors and in 24 hours we had a hundred people requesting to actually purchase the units, which we didn’t know if they worked. It turns out they didn’t. They were made with velcro and a Rubbermaid container, but came together as a team and said, hey, you know what? We can do something really impactful here. We partnered with a local nonprofit Choices for Youth. Then pitched to them and said, hey, we come up with an easy hydroponic system to put together. Could you build a hundred over the next year? We could employ a couple of youth experiencing homelessness in the local area and that was supposed to be the project. Fast forward a year later, we have 500 systems operating coast to coast across Canada, had attracted partnerships from large corporations across Canada and it was really starting to grow. So at that point I was getting ready to graduate university, had my job contract signed, I was going to be an accountant and that was that and something didn’t sit right in my gut. I’d spent two years working with a team to build something that I was incredibly passionate about, that we were making a difference in the world. And I didn’t want to be an accountant anymore. So before I started my big girl job, I called up my manager and said, Hey, I quit. I pitched to the team and said, hey, can I see what we can do with SucSeed? Can we try and transition this into a sustainable social enterprise? And that’s what we did. So it’s about a year and a half later, we hit a half a million dollars in revenue, which was a huge milestone. We have sales in every province and territory and we’re working with 380 classrooms across Canada to grow fresh produce and teach agriculture and healthy eating at an elementary school level. And things are, things are growing.
Vicki: Oh, that’s really exciting. So we’ve got Australia and Canada on the phone, couldn’t be farther apart really as two of our SheEO Ventures. And yet there’s, there’s probably lots in common with the local environments that you’re in. And certainly as female entrepreneurs, one of the things that we hear all the time as it’s super tough to get funded, it’s hard to find resources and way back in the day people actually went out and got revenue to start their business instead of raising money first. So Yas, let’s go to you first. A lot of people, uh, these days are just talking about raising money. A lot of founder conversations. I hear start with how much you raised lately versus actual revenue and what you’re doing with your business. Can you tell me a little bit about how you thought about growing this business and did you think about raising money or did you think about a strong revenue stream?
Yas: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I guess for the first three years before we were a business and we were a hobby, um, once a year hobby, we didn’t even think about revenue. I guess we just felt like how do we raise as much money as we possibly can for a local community cause? The way we had to do that because every dollar that we didn’t spend on building these events would be donated to charity. And we want to to truly maximize the impact we were having. So really what we did was we were powered and built on strong partnerships from people in the community, businesses in the community. And so quite organically we would strategically partner with people that we felt we could bring as much value to as we would, um, I guess extract value from them. So it wasn’t really until we created the business in 2017 that I realized the significant value that these partnerships brought to our organization and that we were really almost crowd partner funded in a way, like no money ever exchanged hand. We generated hundreds of thousands of dollars of our own revenue and gave it all away. It’s a really bad business model by the way, don’t do that. You want to have a sustainable business. But what we use, when we did create the businesses that we could boot strap with minimal, minimal investment. And really the biggest investment was time. And the biggest investment was partnerships and the value of our partnerships is truly in millions of dollars. It’s actually priceless. I can’t honestly put a value on it. And it’s a difficult conversation to have with our accountants. When you talk about big businesses like Cisco and global payments who effectively power put the power behind your business yet no financial contribution exchanges hands, but the value is so much more significant than any amount of money. So at a point in time, I mean we are looking at a seed round now because we want to scale fast. We want to go much faster than our revenue that we’ve generated ourselves can enable us to go fast. And the reason for that is I always say to people, I’m not really here to build a McMansion on the local hill in my local community. I just want to live small, but impact big is about how do we that at scale and at speed bring, draw in the value of our partnerships, which is immeasurable. Combine that with a seed round, which we’ll plan to do in the next four weeks or so to open a raising round. But ultimately it’s so that we can multiply our impact, not just in our own nation but globally as well. So we would not be here if it wasn’t for at least you know, dozens, dozens of business partnerships who took a punt on us and said, you know what, we really love what you’re doing and we want to get involved. How can we help?
Vicki: And did you bump into them through your business or did you step back and strategically think we need to build a platform, we need a payment system. Like how did that actually happen?
Yas: It’s quite interesting. So the way it happened originally is we had a need and so for instance, our garage filled up so much that we could no longer have our garage sale in our garage. And short of calling every person I knew with a ute or a truck to load up this stuff and move it to a hall, I thought efficiency. And so I’m a, I’m like a hacker of time. What is the fastest way to get there that’s the most, most ethical and impactful way so that people don’t have to spend time because time is a resource we can’t replace or generate or regenerate. So I thought, well, we need a truck. So, of course, we need a truck so we need a removalist. So I would pick up the phone, literally really telling market my way to success with when partners. Though I won’t lie, it wasn’t accidental. And my background is sales and I never even like saying my background is sales. My background is actually customer experience. I’m really passionate, like Zappos level of providing the most world-class, outstanding customer service experience to everyone and anyone that I ever met in my entire life, whether it’s going for a run and talking to someone homeless along the way to make them feel better about their day or strategically positioning a global partnership with an organization that I know it can help bring us more value than we could ever afford. So I always would partner and literally strategically reach out. So if we needed a removalist, I would find a removalist that was equal to our values. I always look for partnerships where people actually care. This is not an exchange of money or a transaction. This is actually a relationship of love. And I’m looking for loyal long term partnerships where the exchange of value is so much more than any amount of money.
Vicki: Okay. So there are some words there, relationships of love, loyal long term. And when we talk about this a lot at SheEO where it’s not about the transaction, it’s about the relationship, which yeah, I mean if people remember, you know, there’s that amazing quote, people remember how you make them feel.
Vicki: This is so special. We have a coach at SheEO who I know that, you know, MJ who helps us all understand our strengths. Enrolling is clearly at one of yours and is also one of mine. And Emily let’s go to you for a sec. Is this is something that I think you might resonate a little bit with what Yas has said here in terms of how you’re out there building partnerships in the community, can you talk a little bit about how you’re doing that too?
Emily: Yeah, so we’ve done it in a couple of levels just initially from our production side. So when we were a student volunteer organization, we didn’t have the capacity, the capital, the resources at all to be able to go to a large organization or a group of engineers and say, Hey, can you build these units for us? So for me, a big piece has always been looking at what we do have and what we can offer. So at the time we could offer mentorship, we could offer a team of passionate volunteers who were socially aware, who were about to start their career, that were willing to mentor and to be hands on. That’s what we can offer. So when talking to these nonprofit groups, originally it was talking around what we could do and what we could do together. And looking at the bigger vision. A big thing for us in growing partnerships is just been asking and looking at things differently. So instead of going, asking, uh, we’re at a point now or looking to export to the States, we have schools interested under the border. So instead of being able to pay some of these multi million dollar organizations fees to be able to help us get our goods across the border, we’ve looked at it in a partnership way. So could you do a discount with us? So we’ll donate so many units in your name to different schools and areas where you have clients or you have customers and do a kind of a trade off versus writing checks all the time. I think Yas said it hit nail on the head. It’s talking about partnerships and it’s not always a transactional thing. It’s what can you offer beyond just the dollar goods to make these things happen.
Vicki: So I love how you sort of started with what do we have, and I hear this a lot when I’m talking to female founders, they don’t actually think they have any assets, right? There’s, there’s a certain way where people, just, especially when it’s something that when you have a lot of something like, so for example, for a long time, I never think anything of making connections to people cause I have lots of connections and it’s just something that I readily give. But I sometimes didn’t think about that as an asset previously. But this one of the things when many years ago we were doing some work for um, a client and in terms of trying to figure out how to get something started, someone was like, there’s only five questions you have to think about. What do you want? What do you have, what do you need, how are you going to get it? And then what are you gonna do with it? These were sort of the questions and I think this, so what do you have and what do you have to offer are really, really important. The sort of Asks/Gives that’s at the core of SheEo. And so you did say asking Emily, and were you always good at asking? Like are you just kind of like not shy about that or how did that happen?
Emily: I’m good at asking for other people and I think that’s where the Ask/Give has come in handy. So we need a bit of engineering work done and we couldn’t afford to write a $15,000 check to get a couple of tests run. So I found an entrepreneur who also needed some marketing help and we had some really good graphic designers on our team who are really good at making the posts and doing the right copy behind it. So we did a trade-off. I said, hey, will you give us 20 hours of your time to do these tests? We’ll give you 20 hours of one of our designers times and kind of trade-off. It rings true that sometimes as a woman it can be tough to know exactly what you’re good at and what you have to offer. The thinking talents that MJ did with us are incredibly helpful and hit those nails on the head and allow you to kind of own what you’re good at more. But our secret way of doing it has been looking at what other people have to give and helping them match it up to.
Vicki: Sort of bartering. Yeah. Wouldn’t it be great if the whole economy was this way? But it’s true, right? If you think of like all those assets you have and Yas do you have any examples of how you’ve gone about doing that as well? Like the asking, I mean you said you had done sales before so clearly you’re okay with asking, but how did that approach it? Like what’s your mindset around asking?
Yas: My mindset really starts with, okay, well what do we need? Like you said before, and then I think, okay, who around us has what we need? And a great example is we really wanted to provide some volunteers when they come and build the World’s Biggest Garage Sale. It takes a couple of weeks to build it. And we really wanted to provide meals for our volunteers as in they come along, they’re donating their time. We would like to feed them and not pizza because you know, pizza every night becomes a bit blah and it’s not healthy. And, and we believe in healthy body, healthy mind. So we knew that we needed some fresh food. So I literally thought to myself, okay, who could provide us with fresh food? What brands do we most align with and what resonates and how do we then bring them value? So it is literally like quite methodical and this is like maybe revealing some of the secret sauce, but I want more people to be able to be confident doing this. I don’t even think for a split second if I need something, I look at who has it and I go and try and see how there’s a relationship that could bring mutual value. So when we have 20,000 people come and shop at World’s Biggest Garage Sale, the value we can provide back to the brand that feeds our volunteers is brand exposure. All of our volunteers changed the way they shop. A lot of them don’t actually shop with competitor grocery suppliers anymore because they know that Kohl’s and I’m happy to give them a shout out Kohl’s provide us with all the fresh food for two weeks and our volunteers prepare the most amazing meals. And it’s an incredible experience for everybody and what we don’t use, we then donate to Aus Harvest, who help feed those on the margins with the food that’s leftover. So it’s like this beautiful circular relationship where everybody along the way, I always talk to my kids about, you know, win, win, win, lose and consensus. And at the end of the day like I’m always looking for a win, win, win. We win you in way win and the economy and everybody around us wins. This is not about taking from somebody but about equally giving back value. That’s a measurable for them as it is for us. Like we could spend thousands of dollars on food and we could, but it would mean thousands of dollars not donated or not going back into the community. And so when you tell those stories to big businesses, everybody actually wants to help. I think the benefit, it’s really interesting, like the easy road is let’s just go find $10,000 and feed our volunteers. Like people think that’s easy. That’s so much harder than how do. We tell a story of impact around working together with a local grocery store can donate a truckload of food to us and we can tell them the most amazing impact stories for everybody. The value exchange is perfect for them and perfect for us. So my advice is think about what you need, think about who has what you need and find that beautiful marriage and feels like a marriage. It’s a for better or worse, we’re in this together. How do we grow together?
Vicki: Yeah, and I think it’s so true that people really want to do good, right? There’s this yearning to have meaning and to be contributing and if you can align that with business goals, it’s just so, so perfect. Let’s talk for a sec, Emily, about your hiring because this is something pretty interesting too. Like why don’t you tell people who you hire to set up your systems and then why you did that.
Emily: Yeah, so right now all of our production is done by youth experiencing homelessness in St John’s. So in partnership with the local nonprofits Choices for Youth, why we did it is because when we set up SucSeed and how we ring true today is we want to have as much impact on the world as we can in a positive way and not positive, not just in an economic standpoint but environmentally and socially too. So there’s numerous populations across Canada and around the world that are underemployed, that have the skill set that they need, but just needed an opportunity or flexible work arrangements. So for us, it was really powerful combination. Like Yas was saying, of what people have and what people need. We had youth in our province who wanted a job wanting to get the skills but needed an opportunity that could be flexible. So they needed someone that was able to hire them for three, six hours a week to do repetitive skills and a very supportive work environment. And that was something through our partnership with choices for youth that we could offer. And then our side, when we started off, we didn’t, we couldn’t afford, didn’t need, didn’t have the, I guess production needs to have people working full-time schedules. So it was this really beautiful combination of finding the right resources that we need, providing opportunities and coming together to be able to do so as we scale. We intend to and we want to. And we’re going to keep that same model of, provide opportunities to at-risk demographics, help them grow, help us grow and really fill a gap in the market.
Vicki: These new models for hiring in unique ways. Really looking at the kind of skill sets you need, what the community needs are just so, so awesome. So thank you for what you’re doing. I love that. Yas I, we just met recently your, you know, our latest and first cohort in Australia, which we’re very excited about. You seem very positive and very smiley and full of love. Do you have bad days?
Yas: I think we all have bad days, don’t we? Um, and that’s the reality of life. I am definitely very positive and it’s taken me, I’m in my forties now. It’s taken me a long time to earn that and someone recently actually in the business world called me Pollyanna and I was like, who is Pollyanna, and I googled Pollyanna and she’s like this super positive person. And I thought, oh my goodness, what an amazing compliment that is to be called positive and to think that I project such positivity and my kids always call me Poppy from the Trolls movie who’s also really super positive and I just feel like if you feed your mind with positive energy, then even in the darkest moments then you can still see the light. And I feel like, like I always just try and put positive first. I lost my mom in October last year and it was a really difficult time because we weren’t expecting to lose my mom. And then two days later my husband’s father passed away and so it was really very difficult. It was actually just six months this week. During that time, I absolutely could have just fallen to the ground. It was in the middle of a campaign where we’re just about to run A World’s Biggest Garage Sale. I could have easily cancelled the event and I know everybody would have understood. And I think I get the positive, um, processing of my brain from the fact that mom always said, you know, she wanted us to have what she called a better life and, and she had an amazing life, but she was always quite positive around us having a better life than her. Like she was 21 with three girls under three and my dad was terribly abusive and thankfully left the scene. But I think I get so much positivity from the fact that at 21 years old with three daughters under three, someone in the 70s can find the strength in themselves to remove themselves from a situation that could have actually changed the trajectory, not of just her life, but of ours. And so because these, you know, dark moments happen instead of actually staying in those dark moments and lingering and getting stuck there spiralling out of control. I guess I just always see this tiny little ray or speckle of light and I just very purposely go to the light even in the darkest moments. So, you know, even when my mom did pass away, I see the good, I look for good, look for glad, use both options, never give up. And I have a daughter who suffers from really negative anxiety and we always say that statement look for good and for glad. And even in the bad situations, I just always try and find the good because they’re like, look at this beautiful life that we live in. There’s so much to do in the world. And the glass can always be half full and always feeling even when there’s so many holes in the glass that it’s draining. And I dunno, I’d hate to live in negative flash. I see people that do and I feel sad for them and I just want to inject positivity into their life so that they can see that, you know, having an uplifting, positive mind actually can change the trajectory of your life and those lives around you.
Vicki: Right. Well, yeah, I mean we talk a lot about mindset at SheEO and I think you can do a lot to cultivate the conditions for you to stay positive. Right. And I, you know, I sort of talk about at cleaning my closets of people that bring me down and you know, for many years, I remember when I came back from university and my mom’s like, oh, are you going to go see some of your friends from high school? And I’m like, you know, you know, some of them don’t make me feel very good about myself, so I’m not going to, she had been friends with her cohort of people from way back in the day for 40 years. Especially being an entrepreneur, I think it’s extremely important to make sure that you’re surrounded by people who lift you up and support. Not that everyone’s telling you you’re amazing all the time. That’s not the case. Really working on that is important. And I wonder, Em, do you, I mean, one of the things I know that when you’re having a hard time, sometimes you ping me or text me, which I’m so psyched to get, thank you. But is that something that you really pay attention to? Making sure that you’re, when you’re having a tough time, you’re reaching out?
Emily: Honestly, if there’s one thing that SheEO has done to change my life, it’s the ability to recognize and achieve that mindset so, so much. I think when I started an entrepreneurial career path, you have this, I don’t know, cinematic version of what it’s supposed to be, that you’re supposed to work 25 hours a day when there isn’t 25 hours in a day and you’re supposed to just be like a straight hustler that you’re not supposed to care about anything. That’s supposed to be this Greek capitalism piece. And that wasn’t me at all. I loved what entrepreneurship stood for. It was in my family blood. It was what has kind of, this is what I’ve seen and been exposed to, but from what the media portrayed it to be, it wasn’t anything that I was close to and I spent so long trying to make myself be a square, to always focus on like numbers, to hustle, to work. I’ve seen hours every single day and SheEO kind of gave me the confidence and self-belief that you know what? It’s okay to doubt yourself. It’s okay to not know the answers. It’s okay to not know what your schedule is going to look like next week, next month, or to be able to project how you’re going to make every dollar for the next year. And it was that ability to own when I didn’t know something and to own what I did know that I think was a true blessing for me, um, from SheEO. And one thing that MJ always worked on with me was imposter syndrome and not knowing why all of these good things were happening or why SucSeed was growing or why this was happening. And to just believe that there is something in me, there’s something in SucSeed that’s special. And to think about that in those dark days, think about all of the people that we’ve been able to help, the difference that we’ve made across Canada and what we’re going to do and how we’re going gonna build this to be not just across Canada but around the world. And it’s that ability to, I think, understand what’s happening in your mind and how you can change it or look at things from a different lens.
Vicki: That’s really interesting because I had a call with someone today too, and she was talking about how hard it was to um, create a deck and some, you know, some consultants had come to them and told them, this is how you do it. And she said, it just doesn’t feel like me. And I’m like, then please don’t do it. Like it’s hard enough to sell something when you totally believe in it, but if you’re trying to fit yourself in a box, I mean, I really think we’re at this moment where it’s all made up and if it’s not working for you, find another way. And so yes, I’m sure that, yeah, you can pretty much relate to this, but have you been told there is a way to do things, uh, and tried to fit into that and then realized, oh my God, that’s crazy town. Or like, I know you have a few stories in this space.
Yas: Yeah. I have actually like, let me give you a little bit of context. I am like so obedient. When I was at school, I was like front of the class. I didn’t like to really do the wrong thing. I don’t like to j walk and, and I don’t like to break the law, right? But I hate the rules and I hate trying to fit into this box. So when we first came into this accelerator, we were, which is totally not the type of accelerator that any of our really close mentors and advisors who knew our business and knew me. And like what are you doing in that accelerator? All they care about is making money. They don’t even think about impact. I’m like, I’m going to change their mind. And I totally came in with this view that I’m going to be completely authentically who I am. And if you don’t like it then that’s just tough. Like everyone talks about founders first and we invest in the founder and I know that these words roll off the tongue of so many VCs. And I don’t know, I like, I believe in actions. And my mom always told me actions speak louder than words. So I thought to myself, all right, well if they are truly investing in founders then they’re going to put me in that accelerator because I am a rocking founder and I’m really comfortable saying that like I’m a great founder, I’m not perfect. There’s lots about me that needs work and MJ is going to obviously help you know, polish the edges that need some work and help evolve and continue to develop me. But like if I had any amount of money I would invest in someone like me, right? We stayed true to ourself, we ensured that our constitution stayed as an impact constitution. And even now as we start to embark on a seed round, I’m just going to let you know early on here and I’m putting it out there, I am not going to pick up the phone and try to pitch and sell myself individually to tens, dozens, scores or hundreds of people that are traditional investors in this space. I want to do it completely differently. So we’re actually going to have our own pitch event where we invite our partners, our advisors and mentors and any investors who actually truly do want to put their actions in front of the words, who want to invest in great founders and great teams. And we’re gonna run our own pitch event where they come in and they don’t just see me sitting in front of them pitching. I already know strategically what four, 5% of female ventures get funded. That’s ridiculous. So I want to make change and the way I’m going to make change is ensure that I’m not the only person pitching how awesome our business is. So Cisco will stand up and talk about why they partner with us global payments. We’ll talk about why they partner with us and mentors and advisors who have gone on a journey of understanding who we are as a business, not just about the metrics in a spreadsheet. They’re gonna pitch our business. And so, so many people are actually going to tell the story about why, why World’s Biggest Garage Sale, where are we going? What are we doing? And don’t even start to talk to me about an exit strategy, like the amount, as soon as an investor says, oh, what’s your exit? I’m like, yeah, actually you’re probably not the right investor for us. I want to break the rules and make new rules because I think that it’s not about being a rebel blindly. It’s about creating a new pathway and I want to do this not so that we get funded, but so that we can actually carve a new pathway for other people to get funded. Cause I don’t lack the grit, the tenacity, the drive and all of those ingredients that can push you through hurdles that seem impossible for a lot of people. And so because I have that strength in me, I want to ensure that that strength is not used to just benefit my own business. But that’s such a small spec about what I care about. I want to benefit multiple businesses, multiple people, and create this new way of doing things. So any investors that don’t turn up to that event, not the right investors for us anyway, we just want people that want to invest in heart. And I love that heart there, Emily. I’m sorry. I always say to people, we want to invest this. You want to invest heart and soul into our business, not just money. So if you don’t have heart and soul and you’re not going to bring that to the table, then thank you but no thank you. There’s plenty of other businesses for them to invest in.
Vicki: Okay, so Emily, I think you have a little bit of like smiley face going on right now. As you’re listening to this, cause you’re about to go on a round two. So why don’t you share your feedback on that?
Emily: First of all, you guys, I love you. That was so refreshing to hear. Oh my goodness, we need to exchange shirts.
Vicki: You’re so funny. So Yas has a heart, world’s biggest garage sale and Emily on the back of your shirt, it says,
Emily: Being kind is cool.
Vicki: Being kind is cool. There you go. Okay, so two are having a bit of a love-fest just for our audience who’s listening. They’ve never met each other before. So Emily, talk a little bit about, you know, thinking about fundraising for you and, and the challenge of that. And so what Yaz is saying of like reinventing this because really we need to make new rules.
Emily: So we’re going through the process now going through an accelerator type opportunity as well that is supposed to help you raise money and first of all, we weren’t supposed to be accepted into this accelerator but had some mentors who really believed in the founders of us and believe that we really deserve to do it and we could do something differently. So pushed to get us in. And we walked in day one and we were supposed to do kind of a presentation with numbers and I was like, screw that. I’m doing a video, I’m gonna tell you the impact that we’re having and this is what we’re doing. So it’s kind of a, a Dragon’s Den meets The Voice. You gotta get people to put your hands up so you can continue to like pitch and raise money, whatever else. And people did. People put up their hands and believed in us. It was this complete divide between the room. People were arguing back and forth and have been for the past six months that we’ve been going there over our, is this an investible business? Are we actually gonna grow? Are we a non-profit? Are we a for-profit? Trying to put all of these labels on things when, why? Why do we need to label things? Why is nothing’s black and white? We people try and make everything black and white when there’s this huge grey area, there are all these other opportunities and people just don’t see them. So we spent the first probably four months being part of this just educating people that you can have a positive triple bottom line, that you can have a social business that’s making a lot of good in the world and make money too. Like the things don’t have to be exclusive of each other. And if you rewind to how the business started with merchants and trading and doing things that were impactful for the entire community, that’s where the business started. And somehow it’s turned into this crazy capitalism thing where they want to hear your exit strategy when you’re don’t even have your final product out into the market, which makes no sense. And no one can predict how that’s going to happen or what the exact pathway it is that you’re going to go on to get there, but they just need to believe in you and that you’re going to figure it out. And then you’re going to come up with the right strategy that’s going to do it the most good for everyone and believe in the bigger cause and why you’re doing something versus those 50-page spreadsheets that will never exactly happen.
Yas: I have so much love for you Emily. My God. You’re saying other words I’m thinking we totally have to meet.
Emily: I know. I’ll meet you halfway.
Vicki: You two are amazing. And so Em I think this is really one of the messages that we want to get it in the world, right? So the number one question I get asked about from female founders is, am I doing this right? And there is no right way to do anything as we all know. And in fact, if you follow what everyone else has done, we’re going to get more of the same, right? So the message is really, if you had, uh, we’ll go with you first Yas, if you have a piece of advice for female founders that are out there that are building up their businesses that, you know, working on the world’s to do list, what would you want to share with them?
Yas: I would want to share something profound that I really own now and never really owned in my professional career as I was climbing the corporate ladder of success. So success for me is not about acquiring things, things that don’t actually matter, success and taking the leap to follow your own passion, heart and soul, and to actually work on the world’s to-do list which we all absolutely must do, is feeling and meaning and love. And don’t be afraid to actually bring it to the table for some strange reason in business, this capitalism approach, we leave our personalities and our passion at the door. Or we actually leave it at home. We don’t want to show it. We don’t want to let the light shine on it. We don’t want to bring the meaning to business. Well, I say screw that. Life has changed now and we need to bring this so much value in meanings, feelings, impact, love, emotion. Bring that to the table, bring that to business. And if you’re an entrepreneur or an entrepreneur, you can equally have impact in this world and you can do it within a business or with your own business, but truly embracing the stuff inside of your soul and in your gut. When you feel something, don’t hide it away and think that you have to put the metrics on the table to understand how to make something make sense. Metrics truly don’t matter. And I want to wrap up with just this tiny little story of our experience at the Australian summit on the morning on the eve actually of the night prior to having to negotiate how much money we all needed, which we did in world record time. And we always knew we would because it was just all the right people in the room. But um, MJ left our financials on the table on the coffee table in the center of where we’d all sat for a number of days getting to know each other. And these were the financials that we were supposed to review before the next day so that we could all understand how much we thought everybody would need. And you know what, not one of us, not one founder in that five in a team of five and we, our team like related to each other now forever. Not One of us touched the financials. They did not matter to us. What mattered was not how much money they had raised or their spending or how much they paid whoever and you know what it costs. What mattered to us was the meaning, the impact, the person, the soul, the feeling, the love and all of those really underutilized assets in female founders. And that’s what we wanted to multiply. And so the numbers didn’t matter cause we always knew if you put people first and there’s passion and soul there driving your business forward because you know inside it makes sense, then you’ll always make dollars along the way. You’ll just make sure you find the right people to help you get there.
Vicki: Praying hand Emoji to that one. Thank you very much. And how about you Em?
Emily: I completely forgot the question. I’m sorry.
Vicki: Yeah, so I know it right. You just went deep into Yas, this experience. Yeah. No, it really, I mean you meet lots of female founders out there, you speak at lots of events and you’re bumping into people all the time. You’re going to these different kinds of programs; what is, what is your advice in the early part of your career now out to people that are out there thinking of starting a business or who are already building their businesses? What do you want to say to them?
Emily: The biggest thing I think don’t look at the path that everyone else has taken. So I think often we look for someone who’s done it, done it well, and think, okay, I’m just going to replicate that. We’re all different. We’re all going to be going in a different path and we just need to follow our gut, our intuition, follow the signs that the world is telling us, and do your own thing. Follow your own path. Everyone else in the world’s taken, you’re going to do the best job at being you and not trying to follow someone else. So often I get asked like, who is someone that they should follow? Or what’s another company that’s done this or who’s done this before? No one, no one’s been you before. You’re the first you, you’re going to be the only, and when you grow up, you’re going to be you. You’re not gonna be someone else. So I think trust your gut. Trust the path that you’re supposed to be on and don’t try and be anyone else.
Vicki: Amazing. Well thank you so much. You too. This has been awesome. I’m absolutely thrilled that you’ve shared your stories here and thanks for your time today.