Welcome to part 7 of the ‘Real Women. Real Business’ series!
This series is about understanding the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of quitting a job and starting a business.
Before I left my corporate job, I was so in awe (and still am) of women who had taken the leap and set up their own business. I wanted to know how they came up with their idea and what gave them the courage to finally go for it.
This week’s interview is with the founder of an on-demand works drink service!
If you love what you read, here are the other interviews in the series for you to peruse at your leisure!
- Interview 1: Ellie Frost, Brand Strategist, and Business Coach
- Interview 2: Rachel Creeger. Comedian, Writer, and Director
- Interview 3: Laura Peli. Executive Career Coach
- Interview 4: Monika Wawrzyczek. Mystique Lash Salon, and Academy
- Interview 5: Louise Winter: A Modern Funeral Director
- Interview 6: Georgia Gallone: Digital Marketing Consultant and App founder!
An interview with Ekua Cant founder of an on-demand after work drinks service!
What is your business?
DrinksBot is an on-demand inclusive drinks service via a Slack Chatbot delivering to Offices on Thursday and Friday.
The DrinksBot was created with a vision to bring people together to celebrate success at the end of a hard working week.
Not only that but to create an inclusive celebration where all team members feel equally valued by the drinks offered to them at the celebration and no-one feels excluded. Founded by a creative and technical duo.
DrinksBot is on a mission to transform the Office Drinks to be more mindful and inclusive.
What was your previous job?
I started my career as a personal assistant to a Director working in the UK Civil Service. I worked with numerous Government Departments including; the Cabinet Office, Home Office, Department for Transport and Department for Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. My last position was as an IT Project Manager.
As part of my tenure during my Civil Service career, I delivered digital transformation. I was also part of the award winning team that transformed the UK’s voter registration system from paper to an online service.
Whilst working in the Civil Service I founded two startups, Layover Adventure and the Hackathon Queen. I then left the Civil Service and became a Digital Project Manager contractor.
What made you decide you wanted to leave your corporate job?
I decided to leave the Civil Service to become a contractor working in the Public Sector to achieve better financial recognition for my knowledge skills and experience.
How did you decide what business to set up?
DrinksBot was founded out of a loving moment on Valentine’s Day this year where I came up with the idea to provide an on-demand drinks service for office workers to wind down after a long hard week.
Was everyone supportive of your idea?
When you start anything innovative, the response is almost always no-one will ever want or do that!
I had the resilience and courage to pursue my idea and to take advice as to how to make it even more successful.
Did you have an ‘emergency fund’ to tide you over while you set up your business or did you start it on the side while still at work?
I had been a contractor before I started DrinksBot. I had some money aside from my contractual work that has supported me whilst I set up this business.
Did you have to get any outside investment to get going?
I did not receive any outside investment before starting DrinksBot.
Did you take any courses or qualifications?
I changed my mindset to a solutions focussed mindset and this has been the most helpful tool in my armour in setting up my business
Did you have any particular fears about starting a business and if so how did you get over them?
It is only natural to have fear of starting a new venture.
What was the hardest thing about setting up the business?
Like with life, you need to be resilient.
When you start your own business you are in love with your idea and you have to remember that most people will need a little bit of convincing.
So, don’t get disheartened if you receive negative feedback about your business. In fact, use it to improve your business offering.
Did you make any mistakes when you were setting up?
In hindsight, there are some things which I invested time and money into which I perhaps would not have done if I was starting again. For example, spending a lot of money on a promotional event rather than focussing on getting sales.
How long did it take before you made enough for a full-time income?
DrinksBot is a young and fast growing company. We will be breaking even by the end of this year.
How do you manage your time?
I work very hard and am guilty of sometimes not resting when I should.
However, I do maintain social activities such as my running club, Zumba and Group Cycle. These are the things I do to make sure I am balancing my work life with social activities.
Do you ever procrastinate and how do you deal with it?
On the whole, I am very motivated about my business and facing the challenges that come with running a business.
I find the most helpful thing for me to do when I am procrastinating is to seek advice. This helps me to understand what my options are and then I decide how to move forwards.
How do you market your business?
I use a number of tools to market my business, word of mouth, and social media including Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.
What is your favourite thing about having your own business?
Seeing the positive impact that my business is having on my customers.
I was fortunate enough to be at the first event that we delivered to and I was able to see firsthand how our inclusive drinks range made all attendees to that event feel welcome.
What advice would you give to women who want to start a business?
I have 3 top tips for anyone that wants to start a business.
- Be Creative
- Take risks
- Say ‘Yes’ to opportunity!
Uzo Ijewere inspired me to say to ‘opportunity’.
I heard her speak at Natwest Business seminar on International Women’s Day. Her concept was that we need to be bolder as women to say ‘yes’ to opportunity. To get the help we need to achieve rather than just saying ‘no’.
Generally, Men are more open to saying yes, whereas women tend to be more conservative and not good at saying ‘yes’.
If you want to find out more about Ekua or DrinksBot you can find everything you need below.