Name: Kathryn Rose
Location: Framingham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Industry: Technology & Telecommunications
Reason for starting? In 2007, I was working on Wall Street and the mortgage market melted down — I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and my mom had just had a brain aneurysm. I had to do something new that would give me the flexibility to take care of my family. I had no idea what to do–I knew my best bet was something in technology but let’s just say I wasn’t born with an iPhone in my hand. I taught myself SEO and social media and set up a successful consulting practice and became the author of 9 books.
About 4 years ago, I detoured back into corporate and ran sales for a software company. I built the company’s revenue up and they decided to sell. At that time, I decided I was going to go out on my own again. I know first-hand the challenges women face either rising higher in their corporate careers or starting and building their own businesses. I decided to start WiseHer to offer women the access to experts, education and resources they need to succeed on their own time.
How do you define success? There are 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the US but the large majority of them are solopreneurs. And still they drive $3T of overall economic impact into the economy. On the corporate side there are 40m women in the workforce but women only occupy about 14% of the top spots and again, drive 80% of the purchasing decisions that drive money into the economy. We aim to impact 1m women to start, build and grow their businesses or rise higher in their corporate career and drive $1T of additional revenue into the economy by 2023.
Biggest success: Our biggest success to date is the amount of perfect strangers that are backing our crowdfunding campaign. When we launched on Ifundwomen, I was told that normally the majority of backers in the pre-launch stage would be from friends and family. We, of course drove a significant amount from that audience but about 20% of our backers are people I have never even met. That is a sign to us that we are providing something that women need. That is a huge win for us!
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Women only receive abut 3% of the investment capital so we are left to bootstrap and when dealing with technology that can be a challenge. I taught myself some PHP code and how to build a chatbot so I could chip in a bit but funding is a challenge. When you’re a solo founder, you have other challenges in finance and operations but I’ve found a great group of advisers myself that are chipping in because they believe in the mission. My attitude is I never give up, if there is a challenge I find a way to overcome it. Persistence is the key to success.
I’ve experienced first-hand the challenges women face in business. I’ve been paid less than men doing the same job, I had a man once tell me on a job interview that if I wanted a job with “mother’s hours” I shouldn’t apply. I’ve had situations when I ran my own business when a potential client would speak to my male intern and not me. I’ve been mansplained, sexually harassed and bullied. That said, I’ve worked with some great men who’ve supported me. I’ve had the “evil DJ” show up that plays those old negative songs — hits like “You don’t know enough” “You’re not good enough” “You’re too old” and more, things we’ve all faced to some degree. I know that WiseHer is providing a service that will address the common challenges women face. We can all rise higher and dream bigger not instead of men, or even in spite of them, but along side them.
Who is your most important role model? My mom and dad are the people I admire most. They used to travel the world and hike, bike and explore. When my mom had her brain aneurysm that all ceased. She had just retired and was set to enjoy her golden years. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. But neither of them have ever complained, never once said “poor me.” They just took the hand that was dealt and persevered. They’ve found ways to enjoy life, found hiking trails set up specifically for wheelchair users and take trips. Every time I feel down (and in the start up world that can be a struggle) I think of them and how they are still smiling and moving forward and I pick myself up and move on.
Edited by The Story Exchange