This interview series features inspiring female entrepreneurs who have launched and run successful businesses. Through our peers’ experiences, we can learn practical lessons and insights to empower us on our entrepreneurial paths. Crucially, storytelling de-risks entrepreneurship so we believe it is an essential pillar in closing the opportunity gap for female founders.

Zoë Desmond on…

  • How her journey as a single-mum led her to building a network for other single parents out there
  • The importance of doing your due diligence before signing contracts
  • Why having other female mentors and supporters is so valuable in business

Hello Zoe Firstly, tell us a bit about you.

I’m from Dublin originally but have lived in London for 12 years.  I’m a single Mum to a gorgeous 3 year old boy called Billy.

Tell us about your business, Frolo.

Frolo is a community for Single Parents. I came up with the idea of Frolo having become a single parent myself 2 years ago and finding the loneliness at the weekends, when all I could see was happy families around me, very difficult to deal with. I didn’t want to impose on friends or family or admit how tough I was finding it, what I really wanted to connect with like minded single parents in my area who could understand how I was feeling and who I could meet up with for playdates, sunday lunches, trips away but I couldn’t find anyway to find them. I started dreaming up an idea of an App in my head where I could easily find and meet like minded single parents in my area, and where there was a place to seek support and advice for the many unique challenges that single parents often face.

I came up with the name Frolo (which is derived from Friends and Solo) as I wanted to replace the title Single Parent with something that felt more empowering and uplifting. 

What was the moment that everything changed for you? Describe that moment when you decided to fully commit to your idea and the first few steps you took to make it possible.

I bumped into a local fellow Irish Mum, that I often stopped to chat and catch up with, at a yoga class and we walked out together. I told her she had a lovely tan and asked was she away, she proceeded to tell me that she had gone on her first holiday in 4 years since becoming a single Mum! Despite knowing her all this time, I had no idea that she was also a single Mum and she had no idea that I was one! We both felt immediately frustrated by all of the weekends and Sundays we could have hung out together had we known. I took this exchange as a sign that I needed to create Frolo so that it was not so hard to identify the like minded single parents right on our doorstep.

The first steps I took to turn things into a reality was:

  1. Started talking about my idea. A) to sanity check it and get feedback from people and B) Because I knew once I put it out there and said I was doing something about it then I was accountable for making it happen. 
  2. I started researching and talking to agencies to work with to develop my idea and build the App
  3. I created a timeline and a roadmap (which changed a lot!!) but it helped me get things moving along in the right direction. 

What were the initial challenges you came up across and how did you overcome them?

I won’t go into too much detail but early on I signed a contract that I shouldn’t have signed which set me back a lot of time and money. It was a very stressful time and a huge lesson in business – it also really tested the determination I have. Thankfully it worked out for the best in the end. 

What was the first win that made you feel you were onto something? 

Probably when I first launched Frolo on Instagram. It was really scary to be so honest and vulnerable about my own experience on a social platform but it also felt necessary to share my own story in explaining what Frolo is about. I couldn’t believe the flurry of activity and support that happened following that. The messages were pouring in from single parents about how they related to everything I said and how excited they were that someone was finally building this much needed community. It was then that I really felt validation and reassurance that there are single parents like me everywhere, who need Frolo just as much as I do. 

Did you take the investment route for your business or are you self-funded? Can you share some insights on your decision and the process?

So far it’s been self funded. I will be going for crowdfunding in September when the App goes live. I feel like Frolo is great candidate for crowdfunding because of the community aspect.

What has been your best investment?

Finding the right tech team to build the best product possible. 

Have you made any mistakes or faux pas? If so, can you share with us?

Yes, signing a contact that I should have checked with a lawyer first! Also entering into the above contract without carrying out due diligence first. 

What’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learnt since starting your own business?

Never sign a contact without knowing what you are entering into! Do your research and due diligence before entering into any important contract.

Have you had any role models or mentors along the way?

Yes. I am really lucky that a few key people have jumped in out of the blue to offer me help, guidance and support. It’s really exciting to me that they see the potential that Frolo has and want to help me. 

Something that proved really valuable and really touched my heart was Sarah, one of the Mush Founders, offering to meet me for a coffee and a chat. She was so generous in guidance and showed such support for what I am creating with Frolo as a fellow female founder in a similar arena. I have so much gratitude and respect for her. 

What’s your experience of being a woman in the start-up ecosystem and what in your mind needs to change?

Being a solo female founder can be quite lonely!! Hence the gratitude for the help and support anyone has jumped in to give me along the way. I love the  idea of having a network of  other female founders around me where we can all support and sanity check things with each other. I am beginning to build up a little network now and it makes such a difference. And it’s why I love and appreciate Found and Flourish! 

What can we do to support your business?

Tell everyone you know about it. 1 in 4 families are single parent families so the chances are everyone you know knows someone who could benefit from knowing about Frolo! 

What books, podcasts or resources would you recommend?

It’s not a business book but The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz has amazing simple wisdom and and everyone should read it. 

Podcasts – I jump around a bit but regulars are Tim Ferriss, Jen Gotch is ok sometimes, Oprah Super Soul Sunday, How To Fall Apart by Liadan Hynes and of course Bossing it by Found and Flourish! My new favourite discovery is The Motherkind Podcast – the episode on parenting and childhood trauma with the Dr Gabor Mate blew my mind. 

What advice would you give anyone about to start a business?

The first thing is to check that you have the right level of passion and determination for your business idea because you are probably going to need it to keep going! 

Be really clear on your vision and why you are doing what you are doing. 

Call on support and guidance wherever you can and learn from other businesses successes and mistakes.

Tap into your target market and community and learn from them and let them help you shape your business. 

How can readers get in touch with you?

Facebook: @frolo


Instagram- @frolo_app

Thank you Zoë! – Lara

The Frolo Podcast is available on itunes, spotify and entale.

The Frolo Founding Member Waitlist App is now live on the iOS and Android devices. Links are on the website. Founding Members will get 6 months free when the App goes live in September.

The Frolo App itself launches in September. 

Image of Lara Sheldrake, author

About the Author

Lara Sheldrake is an entrepreneur and co-founder at Found & Flourish. Lara writes and speaks on the topics of entrepreneurship, motherhood and social media for business. She also hosts the Bossing It podcast, aimed at empowering the next generation of female founders in the UK. Send Lara an email.

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