Note: This article is part of a series. Check out the full series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13.

Launching a new business is not easy, never mind bringing to market an entirely new product or service.

In this series of articles, we gathered 100+ successful female entrepreneurs to share their stories and tips on building a business from scratch.

Laura Bell

Founder - The Point Consultancy

Laura Bell

Q: What inspired you to found The Point Consultancy and what were the main challenges you faced?

I spent nearly 15 years working in Marketing; most recently as the MD of a B2B specialist agency, servicing the Tech & FSI industry.

Agencies are built to be a robust force; with many layers of people and specialities on offer. With that the price tag, processes and timelines are high; as that is what is needed to steer such a complex ship.

It's no secret that the companies that are dominating the Tech & FSI industries are the new generation. They are built to think quickly, iterate, learn and move on. They're a fast moving train, and need people who can jump on. People who understand the bigger picture that can offer real, tangible value, quickly.

This was becoming more and more apparent; and winning new businesses was a constant struggle, as the agency model was like trying to fit-a-round-peg into a square-hole, into the needs of this new breed of business.

Then 2020 happened.

I'd been living in Singapore for over 6 years; and in March travelled to Australia for a week's holiday. Singapore abruptly closed its borders whilst we were away, and refused us re-entry. Resulting in us losing our home, leaving our friends and colleagues with no chance to say goodbye, and ultimately being forced to move back to Europe.

I took the opportunity to throw caution to the wind and set up by myself. To create something from scratch that was built to service this new wave of business. With an added layer of sensitivity and flexibility to cater to the current circumstances.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I set up the company myself; after speaking to some friends; who had similar ‘2020 has thrown me some lemons’ stories; we all agreed the same thing

1. We didn't want to go back to the working grind in a city

2. We didn't want to to back to being fishes in big stagnant corporate pond

3. We wanted the freedom to live / work and be wherever; and have a better life balance to go with it

So that’s when I started The Point; a Consultancy that only uses sub-contacted experts to give businesses access to talent on a fully flexible basis.

My partner; a Project Manager, has been helping build up the network of Consultants and 3rd Party freelancers we can use to deliver work; cost effectively yet to agency quality.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

The Point offers expert Director level consulting to startups on a flexible basis, giving them access to senior staff without the pressure of making a hire, as well as the flexibility to start, stop and pivot as they need.

Working remotely and on a purely contract basis, we avoid expensive overheads that drive up our costs, and give our experts the freedom to work from wherever they like.

Each of our experts are sub-contracted rather than employed; so they're responsible for their own taxes, meaning they can live wherever they please.

The lack of overheads means the experts get most of what we charge. Agencies typically pay their staff 25% of what they charge out to clients. We pay ours 80%. The other 20% goes to paying for the central services (finance, insurance, IT) and marketing.  

We have built up our revenue by approaching people with a low-investment proposition.

We offer quick turnaround 'kickstarter' packages with our Consultants that gives 5 days of their time; to do an assessment of the businesses and go back with a strategic recommendation. The client can then do with it what they wish, take it away and action it themselves. Or hire our consultant on a day-rate to help implement it and continue with strategic guidance.

It means the business can get to know us; without having to face a big commitment. A few dates, before we get married.

We find this works incredibly well, as it helps build up relationships without too much pressure. Resulting in a long standing and positive collaboration.

Pamela Wagner

CEO - Ajala Digital

Pamela Wagner

Q: What inspired you to found Ajala Digital and what were the main challenges you faced?

When I left Google, I started to notice the vast amount of knowledge that I had gained. Taking on the first freelance projects through e.g. Upwork, I started to realize the value I could add to the growth of businesses by leveraging Google Ads. As I soon started to make more money in a month than I earned at Google in a month, I decided to create a company. I thought - I've figured out how to make money, now I just gotta figure out how to make it sustainable. If I had gotten this far, I knew I could also figure out the rest.

The main challenges I faced had to deal with my mindset. I had to shed beliefs about money, sales, and entrepreneurship in order to confidently embark on this new journey. Since nobody in my family had finished their studies before or created their own company, I had to carve my own path and take it step by step. For example, I grew up with the belief that salespeople are not trustworthy, they only want their own good, and they are very aggressive. None of these characteristics were true about me, but I had to shift that mindset as I was now my only sales person - otherwise, the company wouldn't make any money. Furthermore, I also had to let go of that 'can do it all/super-independent woman' picture I had established. If I wanted to achieve real impact, I knew I needed to build a team. So, slowly, I started off with hiring different virtual assistants and getting used to have other people work for me and help realize a vision.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I started the company alone, without any partners or funding. 5 years later, I'm still the only founder and sole proprietor of the company.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Ajala Digital helps 6- & 7+ figure companies grow through tailored Google and Facebook Ads strategies. We do so by either implementing and managing the ad activities ourselves, or coaching their in-house team for a limited amount of time to be able to do it on their own, without our help. In terms of revenue, we have always focused on delivering high quality work first. We only work with a few selected companies as the client has to be a good match for us. Fun & wellbeing are the top priorities of our team, combined with delivering excellence. As a result, the company has steadily grown in a healthy way and is making 6-figures per year.

Claire Humphreys

Co-Founder and COO of Wethos

Claire Humphreys

Q: What inspired you to found Wethos and what were the main challenges you faced?

When I started Wethos I was craving more meaningful work in my career. I connected with two women (Rachel Renock and Kristen Ablamsky) I had worked with previously at Havas Worldwide on how we could support all the talented creatives and strategists we had been working with for years. We didn't just want to start our own studio, but to empower tens of thousands of studios to thrive in the creative space. So we created Wethos - an OS for agencies to scale up their businesses through collaboration, not competition.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Our business model has changed over the last year. We once operated as a tech enabled agency working with consultants, now we are our own product. Wethos is the first platform built for independent consultants who run virtual design, dev, content, and strategy studios. Our tools streamline operations for project-based creative teams, so you can instantly price complex work, divvy up deliverables to teammates, and transparently pay friends from a single dashboard.

Darja Gutnick

Founder - Bunch, the AI Leadership Coach

Darja Gutnick

Q: What inspired you to found Bunch and what were the main challenges you faced?

I grew up super exposed to entrepreneurship - my mom built a successful restaurant and was amazing at both growing her business and serving customers. But she really struggled with the team side of things, so people management was always a hot topic in my home.

Then, when I started studying psychology it was top-of-mind. I entered my own work life and found that people management struggles were everywhere I looked. At BMW, where I kicked off my career, I focused on building high-performance teams and figuring out how to make time spent at work with colleagues constructive and fulfilling.

Even at BMW, I was seeing the same old issues that my mom had at her restaurant - no one could figure out how to manage people effectively. It was a big open question.

A major shift for me was when I entered the entrepreneurial track myself with my last startup. I saw the challenges first hand and also struggled with building a team. But I had a bit of an advantage as a psychologist because I could dig into literature in a way that other founders couldn’t. Research papers and hefty books on management and teams were much more accessible to me than some of my peers with business, law, or engineering backgrounds.

With all of this in the back of my mind, I returned to Belin from South America where I founded my first startup. I began working with founders on building and scaling their teams - I would enter when they were around 10-15 people and help them scale to 40-50 team members.

When I say scaling, I don’t mean in recruiting. Normally, someone with a people science background would end up in recruiting, but my passion is for what happens after hiring. Creating a valuable employee experience and supporting these fresh, wide-eyed managers and founders was the key for me.

For a few years, I was majorly focused on supporting founders with templates, frameworks, hacks, and tips. They were geared toward how to actually introduce different rituals and management practices into their companies. I noticed that this was a great opportunity for a product especially as the demand for what I was doing picked up.

After all, what I was pulling together for founders and their management teams wasn’t anything I created. I wasn’t pulling it out of thin air - I was just curating and personalizing this content for newly baked leaders that didn’t have the time, resources, or accessibility to know what was out there. And they needed it in their pocket to be successful every day.

Turning to technology was a pretty obvious solution for me. It was pretty quickly becoming impossible for me to serve clients by myself as it became so popular. So I made the most of this opportunity by founding a company to solve the problem.

The truth is that hoards of managers and team members crave good leadership, but they don’t have the tools to develop it. So BUNCH delivers personalized, quick, and actionable management advice for new and millennial managers. It helps these managers be more effective at building and leading teams - the ultimate goal of leaders - but in a way that doesn’t require them to spend all day in workshops or reading long posts. All it takes is 2 minutes a day.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I actually did start the venture by myself.

My first startup was quite challenging and I burnt out. It’s why we ended up having to close down the business in the end. So for obvious reasons I had some serious concerns about starting another business - specifically a startup.

The demands of being a startup founder are extraordinary - it takes everything you have and more. It’s a major investment of life and energy, which of course I believe is well worth it. But this is what was on my mind when I was starting BUNCH.

I had a friend who ended up being a business angel for us and he nudged me to just do it and jump off that cliff. He saw the clear potential in the business, and he also saw that there is no other path for me but entrepreneurship anyway. But yeah, I was alone on the operational side of things at the time.

I started to look for co-founders basically right away. Since the startup was born out of the consultancy, I had a small but growing group of customers. I also had a semi-productized service in that it wasn’t a product, but half of what I was doing was kind of automated. My search started with looking for tech co-founders and that process took about 6 months or so.

In the end, my first tech co-founder ended up leaving the company. Fortunately, we had an engineer on the team, Charles, and he stepped in and became not only the CTO but also filled the co-founder role.

About a year later, we found an entrepreneur that was recommended to us by one of our investors. Anthony was a great generalist and super ambitious. He could pretty much take on any task we put him on. As another social scientist, he believed strongly in our mission to help managers and teams develop great leadership.

I guess we feel like the Three Muskateers. We all just want to contribute to more people having fulfilled work lives.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

It’s really important to us that this is a tool that’s accessible to anyone. We don’t want there to be a barrier where it’s so expensive you can’t have it without having it provided by your workplace. Anyone should be able to learn how to be a better leader.

We’ll have a subscription-based business model. Eventually, the service will be €9.99 a month and there will be a free trial - all those bells and whistles. This is our road to revenue as we’re actually pre-revenue at the moment. We’re still in private Beta. We’ll be launching very soon this year, and we’ll also be launching our premium plans and the subscription for our users.

Jewels Clark

CEO of How to Be Social

Jewels Clark

Q: What inspired you to found How to Be Social and what were the main challenges you faced?

The initial inspiration was to inspire others to be the best they can possibly be. That evolved into helping creative and inspiring people to make money doing what they love. The main challenges I have faced pertain to learning how to start a company from the ground up. There are a lot of things people don’t tell you about starting a business and every day is a learning process.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I started my venture alone and I’ve always been a loner in that regard. I am lucky to have the strength to face challenges on my own. However, I can’t say that I’ve built my business alone. I’ve had help from my family, community, and my team. They have all helped bring my company to what it is today.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Out business model is simple. How to Be Social connects brands and businesses with models, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, artists, etc. We pride ourselves on not taking a percentage out of what the creator will make from the project but we negotiate our rates with the business itself. We work within a company’s specified budget and match creatives that are willing to work within that. We walk through he needs of both the creative and the business in question. Our goal is to get the creatives paid first and foremost. We have grown our revenue by building trust and I feel that How to Be Social has been able to navigate that well.

Amber Artis

Founder - Select Date Society

Amber Artis

Q: What inspired you to found Select Date Society and what were the main challenges you faced?

On May 10th, 2020 I died. I was driving when I went into sudden cardiac arrest... there were no warning signs... I just suddenly died behind the wheel. I drove my SUV into a brick home. Thankfully, everyone else in the vehicle was ok aside from some bruised ribs. My significant other pulled me from the vehicle and a good Samaritan who stopped at the scene began performing CPR. An ambulance arrived within minutes as we were less than a mile from a fire station. The paramedics were able to shock my heart and bring me back. I underwent surgery to repair my liver and spleen and was placed on a ventilator for the first day in the hospital. I became conscious a few days later and learned what happened. I made a decision right then and there that I was not going to spend another day working for someone else. I had always felt that I could offer my clients a better experience than what was being provided by the companies I had worked for.

Prior to the accident, I was the Vice President for a matchmaking agency in the US. I've been a professional matchmaker since 1998 and I've always wanted to start my own matchmaking firm, even reserving a domain name. Surviving a near death experience was the push that I needed. I resigned from my position and hired a web designer to get my website up. I have always been hard working and determined and this was no different. My loved ones warned me not to work too hard and encouraged me to take time to heal, but I think that working passionately at what I love has been what has helped me heal. On June 1st, 2020 Select Date Society was officially launched! I have been blessed with a second chance at life and I am determined to make the most of it!

The biggest challenge I faced was just getting through the first couple of months in business while my body was still healing. Any entrepreneur will tell you that you don’t sleep when you launch a business. My body had just been through major trauma and I literally could not stay awake for more than about 5 hours at a time, so I relied heavily on my team during that time.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I don't think anyone starts a venture like this alone. There were many people in the industry with such incredible talent, that I knew if I built it, they would come. Collectively we are creating the company I envisioned. It takes a lot of talent to provide this level of service, that no one person could ever do alone!  

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Select Date Society is a luxury matchmaking service, so clients sign up for a six month membership. Our memberships start at $10,000. Our goal is to find our clients their life partner, so our business model is not designed for recurring business. We get results for our clients, so they are no longer going to be our customers! Rather than a recurring revenue model, we have focused on generating revenue through referrals. Our team is focused on creating a high level, luxury matchmaking experience for our clients that will lead them to refer business to us. Our revenue has grown month over month since we launched.

Quinn Wang MD

Founder - Quadrant Eye

Quinn Wang MD

Q: What inspired you to found Quadrant Eye and what were the main challenges you faced?

As a cataract surgeon, I started Quadrant Eye out of a belief that we can make eye care better. When Covid-19 hit, eye exams were actually deemed nonessential; many eye clinics across the country, including the one I worked at, were forced to close. This didn't mean, however, that folks didn't need eye care. During this time, I was fielding phone calls and video calls from patients, but I found that I couldn't access the objective data I needed to make informed diagnostic decisions. After failing to find easy remote eye care solutions, I decided to use my domain expertise to build out my own solution. The main challenges were to figure out workflow, practicality, and usability, and I had to iterate hundreds of times before landing on a workflow that made sense.  

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes! I built out the prototype and launched QE on my own. After a few months, I brought on my technical co-founder Kristine Yoshihara to help us take things to the next level.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

The goal is to create a completely new online eye care experience. We believe that anyone, anywhere should have access to instant and reliable online exams. Therefore, our business model is D2C; we are working on branding and marketing to help us grow revenue via online eye exams and video consultations.

Samiksha S Rawool

Founder - Yummy Tummy Recipes

Q: What inspired you to found Yummy Tummy Recipes and what were the main challenges you faced?

I love cooking and I always wanted to share my unique recipes with people. Initially I would maintain my recipe diary and would share it with my family, friends and relatives. Thanks to social media and my website, my audience overtime has increased significantly. With social media and my website, many more people are able to access my recipes. This gives me immense joy and fulfillment. As far as challenges are concerned I had to face many, but two challenges stand out the most. They are as follows.

Time Management: This was a very significant challenge because I was managing and growing my food blog. I would use my weekends and holidays educating myself on skills, especially web development and digital marketing. My food blog allowed me to have multiple streams of income. As I saw decent cash-flow coming in, I was really interested to upskill myself on digital marketing and social media. I knew this would require my time and dedication. So, at every opportunity that I got to polish my skills, I made sure that I dedicated my time and attention to get better.
Getting Right Education: Well, in order to educate and polish my skills on digital marketing, I enrolled in many digital marketing and web development courses. I used platforms like Udemy and Udacity to enroll for the courses. I started voraciously reading blogs and success stories of food bloggers. This helped me get creative and experiment with the growth strategy of my blog.  

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes I started my venture alone, I still run it in a solo fashion, I like it this way.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

My business model is simple, I rely on monetizing my food blog. I do this by using Ad-networks and Affiliate marketing. I monetize the traffic that I get on my blog. I use two ad-networks namely, and Google Adsense. I have also signed up with Green Chef for affiliate partnership. I promote Green Chef products on my blog and if my audience buys any of the Green Chef products, I get paid a commission.

Rosaria Giorgi

CEO and Founder of XAUXA

Rosaria Giorgi

Q: What inspired you to found XAUXA and what were the main challenges you faced?

I have always been extremely passionate about Mother Earth and the food I buy for myself and my family. For this reason, it has always bothered me the love for junk food my niece and nephew displayed while growing up. A couple of years ago however, I was having dinner with them when I noticed that instead of eating the “premium” chocolate on the table, they kept reading the ingredient list! Not only reading it, but even commenting on how long and full of artificial stuff it was. It suddenly daunted on me what a seismic shift must have happened in a short time in consumers’ awareness and expectations; I could also only but agree with them, for while cacao is truly a superfood, conventional chocolate is not because of the way it is made today. After that dinner I kept asking myself “What if”: What if I could make a better chocolate and what if it turned out to make business sense as well? When I researched the market, the results showed a huge market opportunity and that is when I decided to reimagine the process of chocolate making.

The biggest challenge? To gather enough reliable data to develop a brand-new product. To this end, and in a world first, we harnessed the power of Artificial Intelligence to gather and mine millions of publicly available data on the topic of chocolate, and thus succeeded in identifying consumers’ untapped chocolate expectations, wants, and needs for years to come. We then incorporated the AI-assisted key findings into our product development, recipes, packaging, and branding. As a result, we really made a chocolate like no other:

  • We cold-crafted it in order to preserve cacao’s superfood benefits and antioxidants.
  • We managed to save over 430 aromas naturally present in the cacao beans but mostly lost during typical manufacturing.
  • We did not add cocoa butter and used 3 ingredients only per bar keeping the list short and achieving a fully transparent supply chain.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes, I did. At the very beginning, while doing market research, I was on my own. However, I reached out to external parties whenever necessary. I partnered with a cutting-edge AI company for data gathering and mining, collaborated with independent artists on the graphics, and worked closely with a design company to finalize the packaging.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

At XAUXA we have two main channels: B2B (we sell either directly to retail partners or through local distributors) and B2C (ecommerce). Due to the pandemic, our B2C channel has grown exponentially since March. In the past 6 months, we have also collaborated with other purpose-driven female entrepreneurs to create limited-edition subscription boxes, a move that has not only contributed to increase our sales, but also our reach.

Dr. Casey Kerrigan

Founder - OESH Shoes

Dr. Casey Kerrigan

Q: What inspired you to found OESH Shoes and what were the main challenges you faced?

I spent years as a practicing physician conducting peer-reviewed medical research into the relationship between women’s shoes and health problems. While it seems like common sense today, I was the first to scientifically prove high heels lead to a variety of health problems in women’s bodies. Eventually, we were able to show that, in fact, all traditional women’s footwear is designed in a way that is not healthy for women’s feet, which have a wider toe bed and narrower heel.

I knew that the real solution to the problem was not simply treating women for these health issues, but giving them access to shoes that were designed to be healthy from the start. Even though I had a successful career at a top university, I was inspired to take a risk to design the dream shoes I envisioned.  

But right from the start, there was one major challenge: no one could (or would) manufacture the shoes I wanted to create. I needed not just different materials to make them, but different machines -- machines that did not yet exist -- when I started out. After running into a lot of nos along the way, I ended up building my own factory and many of the machines we now use to make our shoes. One example is our fleet of 3D printers. I had to assemble these printers to make our shoes the way I wanted them to be made and so they were able to be produced based on my research. That meant hand-building our printers one by one. It turns out that the printers we use are actually three times faster than the industry standard machines that you can buy on the market.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

My husband, Bob, helped me immensely with the business, and eventually came on full time to work at the company. But I like to be clear that he did not help out with the machines. The machines were all me! People who meet us for the first time often mistakenly think he built them, which has become a running joke in the factory with the team.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

In the footwear industry, the traditional model is for companies to source their inventory from overseas suppliers in large quantities and before shoes are sold. We operate differently, and it’s been a really important factor in our success. We make our shoes in very small batches and according to demand. Because we’re able to manufacture in this way, we’ve been able to grow organically from the start and build a large customer base over the last decade while continually re-investing into our manufacturing and equipment so we can make bigger and bigger volumes.

Note: This article is part of a series. Check out the full series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13. Stay tuned for more articles!