Last Friday, we hosted an incredible panel of all-female founders and finance experts at Huckletree Shoreditch. Entitled Money, fundraising and financial wellbeing, we discussed the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, why the investment route isn’t always the best one and how the narrative around running a business must change if we’re to encourage other women to step up and create impactful businesses.

I was blown away by our panel of power houses last week. Every single woman came with a mission to empower those around them, working tirelessly on a mission that they all agreed was bigger than them.

We discussed the importance of passion, openness, wellbeing and why the narrative around being a female founder must change to a more positive one so that others are inspired to follow in our foot steps. 

This was much more than an event about money and investment. This was a group of women coming together and sharing their experiences of running a business; the highs and lows, the trials and tribulations… it was honest, funny, heart warming and incredibly empowering.


Meet The Panellists

Our Chair, Antonia Taylor, founder of Antonia Taylor PR and co-founder of Elevate.

Antonia, business owner and PR consultant helps fast-growth businesses engage with and grow their audiences through creative 360-degree comms strategies. Since starting out in London agency life, she’s created a lane to help SMEs share their message and establish brand position.

In 2018, Antonia launched Elevate, with her co-founder, Helen Perry. Elevate is an events series that helps freelancers, bloggers and creative entrepreneurs build their brands.

Emilie Bellet, Found & CEO of Vestpod

Emilie Bellet is the founder and CEO of Vestpod and the author of Amazon bestseller You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich. Formerly working in private equity, Emilie launched Vestpod to change the conversation about money and empower women financially.

On the panel, she offered some advice on building a lean start-up and shared some of her own experiences being funded by a VC….

Keji Mustapha, Head of Network & Operations at Connect Ventures.

Keji is Head of Network & Operations at Connect and joined the team in 2017 having spent much of the 5 years prior, working in and consulting with early/seed stage tech startups, focusing on operations and strategic partnerships. She discovered her passion for startups after qualifying as barrister and quickly realising that this was not the career path for her.

Keji gave some great advice for those considering the VC route and the importance of taking your time before making a decision…

Merlie Calvert, Founder of Farillio

In April 2018, Merlie Calvert launched Farillio, the business and legaltech startup. Farillio provides comprehensive, everyday business recipes, complete with all the tools and ingredients you’ll need, in a digital, subscription-based platform, that everyone can afford.

Merlie reminded us the importance of community and why passion is a vital part of why you do what you do…

Vivi Friedgut, Founder & CEO of Blackbullion

Vivi is founder of Blackbullion, the award-winning edtech start-up founded in 2014. Prior to founding Blackbullion, Vivi was a financial management expert, spending almost a decade managing the wealth of high net worth families and individuals. This inspired her mission of making financial education accessible for all.

She’s on a mission to empower young people by helping them build financial capability, open up the conversation around money and cultivate a healthy, money smart mindset.

Vivi highlighted the importance of looking after our mental health and reminded us why we must never give up on our dream…

A few takeaways from the morning:

1. Community is everything. Nobody understands & can better support founders, than other founders so find your cheerleaders and surround yourself with them.

2. Work/life balance doesn’t exist so it’s important that you love what you do. You may not love it all the time but if it doesn’t mean enough to you, drop it and find something that does.

3. Find your passion and know your ‘why’. Passion is what will get you through the hard times and knowing why you’re doing it will give you the resilience you need to go the distance.

4. The narrative around being a female founder must change so that instead of focusing on how hard it is, we say ““yes this is hard but we are creating something amazing together and we want and need you and will support you as we go”. – Vivi Friedgut

5. You don’t need to raise money to make your business work. Revenue is the best kind of raising. If you decide you need to raise money, look into crowdfunding, angels and friends and family before going down the VC route. The more you own of your business, the more freedom and autonomy you will have in everything you do.

6. Just do it. Once you have an idea or a business you want to pursue, do it. If you don’t, you will regret it.

In the words of Vivi Friedgut “Together we are powerful and unstoppable and can make the world better, more honourable, more ethical and more inclusive.


Event Photos by Personal Branding & Headshot photographer Sara Dalrymple

With love, Lara x

About the author

Lara Sheldrake is a Social Media Strategist 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. You can also find her on Instagram @Lara_Sheldrake or Twitter @Lara_Sheldrake.

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