We spoke to the CEO of Huckletree about diversity in entrepreneurship, mentorship, the sharing economy and much more. Read on on for our top learnings from the chat and watch the live Q&A!
On her business, Huckletree:
She is one of two founders of a co-working space called Huckletree. They currently have spaces across London, Dublin and Manchester and are focused on tech and innovation ecosystems. They also have a dedicated ecosystem and growth team that support start-ups through making introductions in the industry, helping with investment and their social media platforms etc.
Why is it so important to create this support system for start-ups?
As a founder herself, she is passionate about helping others, especially female founders and those from minority backgrounds. The past few months have truly shown that “founders need to be there to support each other” as “in the support, you have strength.” The life of a founder life is hard no matter what and going through that in isolation is especially tricky.
On mentorship and how to become a mentee:
During the lockdown, whilst missing the buzz and energy of being around fellow founders, she started running founder coaching groups online. She has now helped over 100 founders in these groups so far. “I have a lot to learn myself, but the power is in the group, the power is in us sharing our experiences and our knowledge. We have different expertise areas and having this group helps in our commitment to our companies.”
“Support groups are so important whether that’s with fellow founder friends, groups or coaching - it opens your eyes to areas that you maybe hadn’t thought about.”
Why is diversity so important in the start-up space?
She has realised that there is a massive disparity out there, female founders are still at a disadvantage let alone those from minority backgrounds, so it is so important to have platforms to bridge that gap. “The founders are out there - yes, it is important to encourage people to become entrepreneurs from the grass roots but when they do become entrepreneurs, they should have access to the same opportunities as everyone else.”
How did you fall into the idea of Huckletree?
Her passion behind the business was “being around people who are ambitious and dynamic”. When working for a production company in New York, she was inspired by a co-working space where she met a graphic designer, an entertainment lawyer and someone who knew an investor, all people that they later actually worked with.
How are you finding building your business as a first time founder?
No one founder has expertise across the full sphere of their company so having a co-founder is great and they are both “learning on our feet!”
How did you decide on the locations for your coworking spaces?
“We wanted to create spaces where the communities are that we want to build” e.g. having a government-tech based space near Parliament, a digital lifestyle space in White City or spaces in Dublin which has a huge tech scene. They do believe however that there is “value in not being everywhere but having a proper hold in areas we want to grow in.”
How have you found running your business during the pandemic?
They understood that they couldn’t completely pivot their business model as a co-working space but that they could produce new products where their members could realise the value of their community when working at home. For example, they launched Alpha, an accelerator program for underrepresented founders which held a huge beauty tech cohort online.
Why did you want to build a growth accelerator program rather than just a co-working space?
She wanted to “add value to the ecosystems and we felt most able to give advice to early stage founders”. She added that many other programs charge money or ask for equity from these founders but that limits those able to access that help so it is important to them to do this pro-bono. And the applications for their next cohort open in January!
Is there a particular entrepreneur that you look up to?
“As a female founder, I see myself represented a lot”, in the likes of founders such as Sarah Blakely from Spanks, and representation is the most important type of motivation. “If you see yourself represented out there, you feel like you can do it too.”
On start-ups she is excited about:
Hanx – female founded sustainable sexual health and intimate wellness products
Hylo – a sustainable sneaker company
Caura – an app that allows you to look after MOT, road tax, congestion charges all in one place!
On themes Huckletree is focusing on at the moment:
Health tech innovation and sustainable solutions that the world needs. They believe we need to stop wasting things and contribute instead to a sharing economy.
Whose wardrobe would you like to rent, dead, alive or fiction?
Dita Von Teese!