Already twice at London Coffee Meetup, I have come across female founders of internet startups who would love to have a mentor. Somebody who gives them some guideline without further ado. So I decided to set up an experiment.
Are there any readers of The Next Web who are willing to act as mentor for Chloe Holding? She’s the founder of the very early stage startup Habinki. Read the questions and answers below and let me know!
1. How did you come up with the idea of your start-up?
It was more a question of ‘What did I want to do with my life?’ than finding a new business idea, and starting up a bikini/travel company was exactly what I wanted to do. I had always wanted to set up a business and I had a passion for travel and retail, and it just took a little bit of inspiration to figure out how to make that into a great business.
2. How far are you with the set up of the start-up?
I have secured funding via a loan with the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme backed by the government, I have incorporated the company, developed the branding, and begun marketing and selling my brand. The bikinis are on their way from Brazil to arrive in June and the website is currently in development.
3. What is your goal with the company
I want to create a brand which young people associate with and are inspired by. I can see many opportunities in the future in terms of developing new product lines and focusing more on the travel industry, in terms of places to go ‘in your bikini’.
4. What was your biggest challenge during the development process?
Without any doubt the biggest challenge so far has been to make the decision and find the strength of mind to do something very different, which your peers, friends and family may not understand or support. It was about realising that I wanted to do this so much that it actually didn’t matter what anyone else thought, or what advice people gave me, and that the faith and passion I had for building businesses was strong enough to set out on a path on my own. I think part of the definition of being an entrepreneur is to do what everyone else says ‘will never work’.
5. Who are your advisers?
My close friends, a core group of girls (and a few boys) who have shown a real interest and passion for what I am doing. They have offered advice, often on a daily basis, on some tricky issues, and I hope that in the not-too-distant future some of these people will come and work for the business.
6. Why do you need a mentor, for which activities and for which period of time?
I would like someone who has been through a similar experience of setting up a business from scratch, and who has been successful. I would be interested in any kind of communication that would be convenient for them. Even an email exchange every couple of weeks or once a month would be great, or even just to have the opportunity to talk on the phone for half an hour as a one-off, so that I could talk through some core-issues. I think about raising capital, and how to expand, or…. recover from a major business crisis. It would also be useful to gain recommendations of advisors, software, consultants to use.
7. What type of mentor you think would you benefit from?
Ideally someone who has built a consumer retail business, but more importantly someone that has set up a business from absolutely nothing and knows how difficult it is to raise capital and live on nothing but air.
8. What does the mentor gain from mentoring you?
I think that the ideal mentor would enjoy doing this as they would enjoy helping someone embarking on a similar venture as they had. In the future I would be keen to do the same. However, on another level, a successful businessperson and investor may be interested in financing small businesses or may be interested in gaining access to a network of young entrepreneurs and listening to their business ideas.
Interested? Leave a comment below or drop Ernst-Jan a line. I hope the experiment will be a success!