By Pamela Newenham, co-founder of GirlCrew
Entrepreneurship was in me from a very young age. I had a number of businesses as a child and was always trying out new ways to make money. I would make cookies, cakes, and jam, all of which I sold with my gran at a local country market. I graded vegetables and made up boxes for vegetables. I ran raffles and sold the tickets to all our neighbours. My favourite business was selling golfers their own golf balls! My dad had a field next to a golf course where he grew maize. The golfers would hit their balls into the field, but then couldn’t find them as the maize was so tall. When it was harvested, my sister, cousin and I collected all the golf balls and sold them back to the golfers.
This love of developing things continued when I went to university. In my final year of studying law, I set up Ireland’s first student television station. Now, I am the co-founder of a social networking app for women called GirlCrew. Unlike other social networking sites, GirlCrew immediately connects women with others in their city for nights out, hikes, brunches, holidays, and more. It also has an in-built careers, entrepreneurship, and personal interest groups, where women can share knowledge and advice on everything from getting a pay rise to restaurant recommendations and make-up tips.
Here, I’ve put together some tips for others looking to set up a business or get the most out of networking.
You don’t need an original idea to have a business
I really wanted to set up a business but couldn’t come up with an idea. Well a good enough idea anyway! I would come up with lots of ideas, but when I told people about them, the feedback was awful. Luckily for me, I met Elva – see her talking about GirlCrew on YouTube here – on a surfing weekend trip in the west of Ireland. Neither of us had a penchant or talent for surfing, so we got talking about business, specifically GirlCrew. I would join her as a co-founder, and she asked Aine Mulloy, who had also been helping her, to become a third co-founder.
You don’t need a technical background to run a tech company
The three of us didn’t have the money or technical knowledge to build our own platform. We utilised Facebook’s platform to grow GirlCrew internationally, and test if it could be a business. This meant we could develop a global network of women, with tens of thousands of members across four continents, at a cost of virtually nothing. When we knew we were on to something, we brought an excellent technical adviser on board and hired a lead developer. In the summer of 2017 we finally launched our own app, on iOS and Android.
Getting lots of rejections doesn’t mean you have a bad business idea
We have raised funding from private investors as well as the Irish government state agency Enterprise Ireland. Raising money was not an easy process. A lot of people said “no” to us. It was difficult as they would give different reasons each time. One investor would say no because we didn’t have a certain thing in place. We would put that in place, and then another investor would say no because we had it. Some investors wanted us to focus on growth, while others were more interested in revenue and profits. We learned that you can’t please everyone, so you must follow the right strategy for you.
Shout about what you do
Running a business that helps women make new friends, I have learned a lot about networking both socially and professionally. One thing I notice a lot is women are less confident about saying what they do than men. At various events, women I meet will just tell me their name, but men will say their job title. If I could give any advice, it would be to say what you do. I will always say I run a social network for women to make new friends called GirlCrew. It makes it easier to build connections and get a conversation flowing. People can only ever help you if they know how, and they will need to know what you do for this.
Download the app: https://www.girlcrew.com