“How humbling it is to be part of someone else’s journey and part of someone else’s success. You really feel like you are helping to make a difference for the better.”
One co-founder of a successful search firm, one a chemical engineer and successful renewable energy entrepreneur, and one is an OBE double Olympic Gold medal winner. If anyone was qualified to set up a business to champion female entrepreneurs, it’s three sisters Fiona Brinin-Webb, Sarah Gosling OBE and Genie Webb.
And that’s exactly what they’ve done when they formed f-crowd; a rewards based crowd-funding platform for females, established to create a buzz around their venture, build a client base, develop a network of interested and engaged people and raise vital funds.
We spoke with Fiona Brinin-Webb about positivity, the need for change from the grass-roots and making a difference for the next generation of women.
The moment that ignited the spark in for us to start our business was…
The initial idea came whilst I was running, as these things often do, but the f-crowd model was agreed after much collaboration, conversation and ideas with my sisters.
We had always discussed the fact that there is a lack of female-led, or female co-led businesses, and ones that support family-friendly working environments. To change this requires a whole-scale shift, from the grassroots. We talked a lot about the difficulties both we, and many other women, have had in trying to balance work and family life. We knew we wanted to do something that had a positive impact on the future – on the world our daughters will work in.
I think many people recognise that there are issues in the corporate world, such as pay gaps and a lack of female representation at senior level, but rather than concentrate on those sort of issues, we wanted to focus on championing women in a different way; the growth of an ecosystem of female entrepreneurs. We explored what that might look like, and what would make the most difference to women in business.
Our research told us that a third of the female population want to start a business but wouldn’t do it for fear of failure. We discovered that women are far less likely to take on debt. We also looked at the type of environment within which female entrepreneurs succeed, and found that women flourish when their environment is female-focused.
Where we came to after all this, was a female-focused crowd-funding website, to help female businesses to get off the ground, and to give them the boost they need at the start.
The thing that’s most surprised us most since we started our business is…
The thing that has most surprised us is how humbling it is to be part of someone else’s journey and part of someone else’s success. You really feel like you are helping to make a difference for the better. For example, one lady, who is raising funds through f-crowd at the moment, is a ceramicist, and she needs money for a new kiln. It would change her life if she had her own kiln and her own studio. It will enable her to build her own business in a way that she would otherwise not have been able to dream about. That, in itself, is a really fantastic and motivating experience. It’s also amazing just how supportive and helpful most people have been, even the most unlikely of people.
What type of businesses are you working with so far?
As we are a crowd-funding platform, where people pledge money for a reward; we are seeing a lot more people coming to us seeking funding for retail businesses. So far it tends to be people who are creating things, such as pots, hats, or dresses. That has been the trend so far. However we are very open, it’s very new, and I’m sure our direction will adapt and develop.
The toughest challenge we’ve faced so far is…
Technology. In a platform like ours it’s so important, and for us it’s a whole different world. Luckily, we have been able to find people who have these skills and capabilities to support us – and most importantly, those people understand our vision. Working with them has been an absolute god-send.
What’s also been an interesting challenge is that even though the concept of crowd-funding is very well developed in lots of areas, we’ve actually spent quite a lot of time educating people about what crowd-funding is. I should also stress that though we are aiming to champion female-friendliness, we’re not aiming to fully exclude men! So if you were a male and female partnership or if at least 50 per cent of your business’ team is female based, we would definitely be able to help.
I’m very good at…
Being very positive! The other two are good at different things – though I should say that they are also very positive!
The type of person I look to recruit into my organisation is…
We have someone doing our online marketing, and someone doing PR, and someone doing finance. They are all a huge support, and we love the fact that they are expert in their field. In terms of recruitment, we look for someone with an open mind, a complementary skill set, someone who challenges us and brings with them a new perspective.
When it came to agreeing for roles between my sisters and I it was actually quite straightforward because we’ve all got quite different skill sets. It was always very natural. Genie is the oldest. She is a Chemical Engineer, so she’s very finance-minded, and always looks at things in a very analytical way. The middle one, Sarah, is a double Olympic gold medallist – she knows what it’s like to perform at the top level in her sport. She reflects that with discipline and commitment in everything she does. I’m the more creative one let’s say!
The part of my day I most look forward to is…
First thing in the morning – a cup of coffee with my laptop; or equally the last thing at night, which is exactly the same, but minus the coffee!
During the day, my sisters and I are all at different places, doing different things. I love it because every day is different. At the moment, we are finding new projects and new campaigns, and working with those entrepreneurs on their pitches, and also working with our video team as they create their video campaign. It’s exciting, it moves fast and there’s a great sense of achievement.
If I could give my 18-year old self one piece of advice it would be…
To find what you want to achieve, and get out and do it. Dream big.
Outside of work I can be found…
Friends, family, being social, exercising. We also travel quite a bit. My sisters and I are based in London at the moment, so we spend quite a bit of time together in work and outside. We try to meet together face to face at least once a week.
My philosophy on life is…
Live life to its fullest, life is a gift. You only get one shot, and try and leave the world as a better one than the one that you inherited.
If I was asking the questions, I would want to know…
I think finding out what drives people as individuals is very interesting. Every person has a unique reason for building a business. I’m also interested in what success means to them.
What is your relationship with Ignition Law?
We are clients of Ignition Law, and are exceptionally impressed by the service we have received. It’s great to see a law firm being developed which is female and family friendly – that’s what we like to see!
For more information on F-Crowd, please visit: