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.
Firstly, tell us a bit about you?
My name is Uta de Veer, I was born and raised in Germany and moved to London 20 years ago.
I am married and have 3 boys. In the 90’s I worked crazy hours in advertising. I absolutely loved the pace and endless opportunities to grow my career. I struggled with how I would combine my professional life that included a lot of travelling with my family life and so I decided to go back to Uni to get a Master’s in Architectural Interior Design.
I started my first company, focusing on total refurbishments. By the time I was pregnant with my 3rd child I got to the point where baby bumps and prams felt no longer right (and so exhausting) on long term building sites.
This was the moment when I thought I should team up with another mother to start a company. Very funny in retrospect.
I only work 6 hours/day so that I can be with our children, I love DIY, art and architecture, and almost never watch TV.
Tell us about your business, how did you come up with the idea?
I first thought of the idea when I heard what no one ever wants to hear; Reports about muggings on the way to and from my son’s school.
Even though we generally view our phones as our safety net, sometimes reaching for our phone in unsafe conditions is not an option. I wanted to find a solution to this.
That’s how One Scream was born.
Before the app could be built, research was key to inform the approach that would be taken to make this a reality.
Through extensive research, it was found that the single most common reaction for a woman when faced with a threatening situation, is to scream.
This helped create a single focus to build the app around. The technology would be built to work for women, first and foremost. A woman’s natural response to scream in fear would get her the help she needs, without needing to unlock her phone.
One Scream is designed to allow women to do whatever they want to do, without fear. Providing reassurance that they are keeping themselves safe.
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.
To be honest, I’m not sure there was a single moment.
The idea that my phone could help me in moments of distress was a major breakthrough, and gave me that singular focus to how this could become a reality.
I made a start by talking with my husband about it and also with a friend of mine who I thought could be a perfect match as a co-founder. I felt incredibly energized during this phase and full of drive to make this idea a reality.
What were the initial challenges you came up against and how did you overcome them?
I spoke to a number of developers who all said it was impossible to create an app in the way we wanted.
One developer who seemed especially suited (he specialised in audio) was also cautious.
I knew that there must be some solution, so I kept nagging him until he recommended a developer that he had read about in the press.
My friend (who had become my co-founder in the meantime) and I went to meet him, and he agreed to take it on.
This was a big step forward for us being able to make the app a reality!
What was the first win that made you feel you were onto something?
The first months went pretty smoothly.
The founding team and I started to build a network that would support us, and as part of this initial journey, we also found a high-ranked police officer who was thrilled by the idea.
He became our consultant and opened doors to the 999 system. It almost felt as it was all meant to happen.
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?
At the beginning, it felt natural to bootstrap for the first couple of phases to see if we could get it off the ground.
We have since taken several angel investments, with the last one in 2019.
What has been your best investment?
Without a doubt it’s in my team, who have all – whether full time or freelancers – contributed immensely with their knowledge and dedication to helping us grow.
I have learned a great deal along the way. Throughout our journey so far, it’s been personally challenging, but I have also learned a lot about myself.
What am I capable of doing, where are my limitations and what I’m really great at.
Have you made any mistakes or faux pas? If so, can you share with us?
I wish I had known about accelerators when we started.
An accelerator could have opened many doors and helped us to understand the technical side much more quickly.
I kept reading about the importance of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) but struggled to understand what that means for us.
As our app is only working when it is fully developed I didn’t dare to launch much earlier than we did.
What’s your experience of being a woman in the start-up ecosystem and what in your mind needs to change?
In my personal experience I have never felt disadvantaged in my business life before becoming a founder by being a woman and I’m grateful that this experience has prevailed since founding a start-up.
I have been fortunate to experience people who have supported and believed in me and helped me climb the career ladder.
What’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learnt since starting your own business?
It looks so much easier from the outside.
Starting your own business is hard work and often very lonely but it is amazing to realise how many different roles you can fill. I have huge respect for other founders!
Have you had any role models or mentors along the way?
I have role models for my personal life. For the business I have been mainly mentored by my husband and a close friend who helped me with some business decisions but also helped me to keep things in perspective.
With the future in mind, where would you like to be/where do you see yourself in the next five years?
To see One Scream continue to grow and expand the reach of the app.
All the love and care the One Scream team have taken into developing this app, means we are in a great place to grow and grow.
Our mission for women to be able to live the life they want, without fear when they get home late at night or venture into new areas.
While One Scream is only live in the UK at the moment, we know that the app is hugely relevant for many countries worldwide!
Can you tell us one of your goals for 2020?
To build and further grow the community of women who use our app.
What can our readers do to support your business?
Download the app, and tell us what they think!
Your feedback is super important to us.
We want to understand what our users like, dislike or wish the app had, so all thoughts are very welcome!
What books, podcasts or resources would you recommend?
How I Built This – Some fab insights into how some of the biggest startups and businesses got going
This informative article on growth tips for startups
What advice would you give anyone about to start a business?
Go for it.
It’s an incredible journey.
Think about how you’ll feel about your business idea over the next 10 years.
And, if you partner with someone, make sure you do proper due diligence, and understand how you will validate your business idea.
Where can we find you?
About your author
Leah Williams is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with Founder Lara Sheldrake to ensure every piece of published content is empowering, inspiring and well presented, just like the women we work with.
I’m Samantha Jameson, the Founder of British hand, bath and body care brand, Soapsmith.
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