Outbox Blog

Home >> Blog >> Female co-founder shares learnings and advice for startups

Female co-founder shares learnings and advice for startups

Karungi Terry, at Kola studios in Kampala, Uganda shares her experience as a female co-founder for a game development studio. Terry has experience working as an intern at Google Uganda. More to that, she is a previous Google-Zawadi scholar.

 

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and my family and upbringing has a lot to do with this. Torn up in two, one half of my family has always spoken to me of their belief in ‘playing it safe’ and “stability” and the other half believes in taking the risk and making a real impact in someone’s life as it pays in more ways but one.

Some Key things I have learnt

Brace yourself; the road ahead is very bumpy

Even though I never doubted my decision or zeal, stepping into the Mobile Gaming Industry here in Uganda that was unique and still unknown to any presented its own challenges. Also, the reality of being a minority business owner mwas also something to consider. One good thing though is I did not have to explain to friends and family why I was doing what I was doing. Sure my mother expressed concerns as to how I am managing school and work but I am grateful to my network of family and friend that pushed me on and trusted my guts and spirit

Because I have to the most part of my life been independent, I wanted to ensure that my business would allow me to remain independent. If you’re an entrepreneur you know that the initial years in business are unpredictable. You have to wear many different hats and be your own boss, assistant, marketer, accountant sometimes-even lawyer.  It was and still is exhausting and I admit to missing the ease of performing a job with the role already carved out for you plus the comfort of showing up, doing the tasks and getting paid without fail. I can say with certainty that owning a business is not for the weak hearted.  It was only grit, perseverance, determination and most importantly God, who I look up to for everything, that carry me through.

Great Support Structure: listening and learning

And not to sound like a clichéd feminist, but being a female founder has had it’s own hurdles but also its own strings of blessings. How far my company has come is to a large extent attributed to the networks we have built and people always willing to give one a chance and help one grow.  An entrepreneur has to be able to articulate the business well to all stakeholders. I am the Number One evangelist for my business- a “Hustler” if I might say:

 

“A Hustler on the other other hand is a relationship builder. Someone who can build direct relationships with their customers. They aren’t really promoters, although they do a lot of promotion. They aren’t salespeople, although they do a lot of selling. They are passion people. They have the ability to articulate their passion clearly and in a way that gets other people equally passionate. “-Micah Baldwin

I have also noticed that women are more passion people than our male counterparts and we should be capitalizing more as we start and grow our businesses.

Communication

Despite how far we've come as a society in our views of women, despite what people vocalize...when things get a little pressed. Very often a man's reaction is unconsciously informed by either their past experiences with our gender or how they were raised to think about women. This can be particularly demoralizing to the woman who has put so much effort into her project, and then is dismissively ignored, put down or held back because of these old influences cropping up. So it is key to learn to communicate respectfully to colleagues especially in those moments when you feel you are being unjustly treated. Don’t wait for it to build up because then a volcano might just erupt. Communicate immediately but respectfully and objectively.

Build Internal Structure:

A key highlight of mine has been the evolution of my company from a small team of people meeting every weekend at a colleague’s house to a professional self-sustaining business.

I learned the importance of internal structure during this evolution: defining roles, empowering employees and tracking everything. I realized I needed to marry the attention to details and structure I learned in administrative roles with the forward-thinking and creative planning that is essential in a business especially one that is a pioneer here in Africa.

One very important thing I have learnt is that team is the heart of the business. Focusing and investing in team especially the early employees is key to the future of the business. Communicating the goals and visions clearly as often as possible keeps the team cohesive and focused. Teammates need to know and understand that they are part of a bigger picture and the project is bigger than they think. There will be many low times but know that there’s no possibility of being pessimistic when people are dependent on you for their only optimism. And that is a role that you take up as an entrepreneur.

Work/Life/School balance:

Juggling business priorities requires a change to style of working, and personally has taught me to streamline processes and be more organized. At the very beginning of any entrepreneur experience, you are dedicated every minute of every day- honestly; there isn't a lot of balance in your life. Trying to balance my personal, academic and professional life has meant working much longer hours.  The dinners with friends stop, the time to read a nice book stops, even time to work out. But, the focus of any good entrepreneur who doesn't want to burn herself out has to be on creating balance as the business grows. This has probably taken the most effort and it is a something I am still learning- making sure my work doesn’t affect my relationships with others and more so my own personal development. Most people say that good multi-tasking abilities help, but personally multitasking is a bit over rated so I turn to scheduling and focusing on one thing at a time.

Other things I have learnt

  • Learn, fail fast, iterate. Adapt to feedback and focus on moving forward through all the ups and downs.

  • Get money lined up: Approach potential Investors and sell your business. Remember, Investors are not a charity; they mean business, so do your research, understand your business model and have your full business plan in check.

  • Fundraising is a numbers game: the more people you meet with, the more you improve your pitch, become better equipped to answer tough questions, and the more likely you’ll find the right investor who believes in you.

  • Get Investors who believe in you and what your company is trying to achieve. Don’t sell yourself short

  • Document everything you do so you can pass it on to other people. You are only as good as the people who carry forth your torch and their ability to keep it lit.

 

Add new comment

Outbox on Google+

Outbox on Facebook

Who is online

There are currently 0 users online.

In Partnership With...