Originally from Washington, D.C., Olivia didn't know that her background in women's rights and nonprofits would lead her to founding a tech startup - The Restless Network, in her early 20's. We spoke to the Founder about the experience she's had with sexual assault and how that has led to founding her own platform, the community she's built and all things women in tech.
Talk us through your background and what the Restless Network is.
Olivia is originally from the U.S. and is now based in London. The Restless Network is an international social networking app for women by women and also a digital resource. The idea behind it is that they wanted to provide a space for women to ask for help and find meaningful connection. It is an alternative social media platform, another option for women but without the hate speech and trolls you find on regular platforms.
What was your motivation behind founding the platform?
Olivia was sexually assaulted in college and after reporting it to the university, she was sued for defamation by the perpetrator. The law suit was a form of harassment and went on throughout her adult life. She legally couldn't talk to anyone about this and felt completely isolated in her situation. So the platform came about through the realisation that she needed her power and her voice back, and she felt that if she facilitated the stories of other women, empowering them, this would also be a way to tell her story. After setting it up, she found there was a piece of the puzzle missing on the platform and that was the ability to ask for help. She wanted to create a place where you can find meaningful connection, be honest and get help from other women. "I don't think theres enough emphasis placed on what everyday women can bring to the table in terms of helping other women."
What is the community or social aspect to the app like?
You can engage in so many different sections e.g. MeToo, sex & relationships, careers, racial justice. We wanted it to be a supportive place but not be triggering all the time. People can write on the community feeds, free articles, podcasts, make friends and group chats.
How did you form this team of journalists or experts in different areas?
"My background is in non-profits and I think I just got really lucky when reaching out on Twitter for people to join the team". There is an amazing amount of talent out there and people who are excited to write and create cool content. She also mentioned that Disciple is a great platform to use if you're creating a tech platform but don't necessarily have a tech/coding background.
Have you been experimenting with different media?
There are definitely waves in people feeling invested in media or very burnt out. "It's easy to see when our content isn't actually helping". Some topics are more ingestible in video form and some make you feel safer in a written format so we completely cater to our community.
What's the best piece of feedback you get from your members on how the Restless Network helps them?
"We really look at the individual experiences, what sets us apart is we look at our individual user." She regularly gets messages from survivors and other women going through a rough time and from them she's learnt that they benefit in the long term in feeling like it's okay to talk about certain topics because other women are too. A lot of their articles answer their questions and then they will take the step to message or post something themselves, with everyone then sending huge support to them. Olivia is so grateful to be able to facilitate that.
What are your ambitions for the platform?
These conversations are not happening in the mainstream and there is this space to bring these resources there - almost like a reddit for women. "My dream is that any women crying alone will be able to take out the app and find support."
How would you describe your personal style?
"I love dresses, my whole closet is filled with floral print." She love heels and being super expressive.
If you could rent someone else's wardrobe - dead, alive or fiction, whose would it be?
Meghan Markle! It's very classy.