“I started One Roof to shift the dial and close the gender gap in business, leadership, and entrepreneurship. I wake up every day passionate about supporting women to thrive in business.”
I was working as a corporate lawyer and had an alarming epiphany: the simple fact that I am a woman can hinder my chances of career success. I felt frustrated, angry and motivated to make a difference. Leaving a stable, financially secure job to start a business was one of the scariest decisions I have made in my career so far, but also the best.
How did One Roof come together? How did you meet and connect with your co-founder?
I was introduced to Gianna Wurzl, co-founder of One Roof because we were both running networking events for women. We hit it off over the first coffee and began meeting regularly to discuss our shared passions. We leveraged from our respective events to facilitate focus groups to garner insights from female entrepreneurs around their challenges, fears and barriers they face and what we can do to support them.
“In one week, 400 people came through the doors. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.”
From the feedback, we came up with the concept of One Roof, a hub that will provide everything a female entrepreneur needs to thrive under one roof. We tested the concept with a one-week pop up in an Airbnb home. Imagine a two-storey mansion in St Kilda we converted into a co-working space. The bedroom was a meeting room, the kitchen was a workshop space, and the lounge room was a hot-desking area. We designed and curated the week with meditation sessions, workshops, and events.
In one week, 400 people came through the doors. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. It was at that point that we knew we were on to something. Over the last two years, we have tested the concept with a presence in four cities across Australia and the USA and engaged and supported thousands of women globally.
What can women expect walking through the doors at One Roof?
You can apply for a one-week free trial at One Roof. On your first day, you will be greeted by a friendly One Roof team member who will give you a tour of the space and help you get set up. Our famous line is, “make yourself at home, ” and we truly mean it. The space feels homely, warm and inviting.
Throughout the week you can take advantage of our business support program and meet 1:1 for a free consultation with subject matter experts across a range of industries including a legal, accounting, social media, business coaching, marketing, content writing, tech, design thinking, financial modelling, funding and so on. You can sit in on a weekly mastermind session to share a business problem and harness the collective genius around the table, and you can attend our 20min meditation sessions.
We host fortnightly meet and greet morning teas, weekly ‘Friday wine downs’ with wine and nibbles and lots of community events in between (including karaoke, One Roof dinner series and move nights). We host on average four events each week in our 300 person events space, and this ranges from pitch nights to f*ck up nights and dinners with investors. You will meet a diverse range of individuals including entrepreneurs, startups, corporates, creatives, investors, philanthropists, public servants and freelancers who all work from the space regularly.
One Roof is a rich and diverse community and ecosystem. You will instantly feel part of a community that is passionate, innovative, bold, hard working and supportive. You may never want to leave!
How did you first fund One Roof? Would you do it again?
In 2015 I was nominated by the Foundation for Young Australians as one of Australia’s top young innovators and accepted into their Young Social Pioneers Program. I spent two days, along with five other young entrepreneurs, in Sydney in an intensive pitching workshop, which culminated in a pitching competition in front of an audience of over 300 people to celebrate BASF’s 150 year anniversary. I pitched the vision of One Roof and won the competition being awarded $10,000 seed funding. From there One Roof has been self-funded and bootstrapped (I painted most of the walls at One Roof myself!) with significant in-kind and financial sponsorship from major corporates including Central Equity, Optus, and MYOB.
Why do you think there’s still a gender gap in entrepreneurship in 2017?
The gender gap is less overt than it used to be which makes it harder to pinpoint and overcome. For instance to overcome key barriers including unconscious bias, gender stereotypes, a confidence gap, lack of mentors, funding and affordable childcare requires a combination of education, policies, institutional change, and collective action. There are a lot of factors at play.
How can women get around these hurdles?
Women need to be seen and heard, ask for what we want and persist; we need to be in the media and talk on panels (I will always say yes, even if I have been asked because the organiser struggled to find a female to even the balance on the panel). We need to be honest about the journey of entrepreneurship (including our successes and failures) and mentor, coach and support other women and girls. We can’t be what we can’t see. We need to see that women can lead and succeed.
One of my mentors, role model, and dear friend is Catriona Wallace, Founder, and CEO of Flamingo and the first ASX company in ASX’s history to have a female CEO and chairperson (Cathie Reid). Catriona is a shining example of a woman who mentors and supports other women. She is a pioneer for women in raising capital and leading global tech companies. We also need to bring males into the conversation and educate decision makers about the issue. Gender equality in business, leadership, and entrepreneurship is a social and economic imperative.
Can you tell us about some of your members?
Some of the businesses working in the space include:
Shebah – Uber for women drivers and passengers.
Finch – a financial app for your social life that allows you to split bills.
Genovate – a consulting firm that specialises in improving gender diversity in the workplace by recruiting and placing women into senior roles.
Wedsites – a wedding planning platform.
YouLi – a travel management platform for bespoke group travel.
Little Dreamers – improving the emotional and physical health, wellbeing and resilience of young carers who have a sibling with a physical or mental disability.
Project Gen Z – a collective of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs who have joined forces to roll out Dare to Dream workshops teaching entrepreneurial skills to young people all around the world.
2aT Startup – a creative agency making visions a reality.
All our members are women-led businesses so businesses with a female founder, co-founder or CEO. We also have a lot of corporates working from our space and using our facilities including NAB, Lululemon, MYOB and Australia Post.
CONNECT WITH SHEREE HERE.
We’ll be hosting our next Networking Night in Melbourne at One Roof on Wednesday October 11, head here for the details (NOW SOLD OUT).