LORI: A Hub For Women Entrepreneurs In Montreal
LORI - Ladies of Real Influence is a non for profit organization that promotes entrepreneurship as a career option for women in Montreal. In just three years, they've successfully grown their community through their online platform, networking events and co-working space. Goss Club sat down with Arielle Beaudin and Stephane Atanga Founders of LORI.biz to discuss future plans for their company and how they have maintained their reputation as, the real ladies of influence.
Did you always know you would be an entrepreneur?
AB: Our backgrounds are not related to this, I have a bachelors in Economics and Politics, then I studied PR. I didn't really know what I wanted to do, I started working for Startupfest - biggest tech start up event in Montreal, and that's where we met. I never had any entrepreneurs in my family or entourage, [it seems really obvious] but I never even considered it as a career choice.This realization is why creating LORI.biz was so important to me. We wanted show others that with a lot of hard work you can create your own opportunity and to showcase women entrepreneurs and their great initiatives
SA: I had a blog, "LORI magazine" where I featured women entrepreneurs. I studied Economics, and I have three sisters, who are entrepreneurs, and when I spoke with them they would always say "we don't have a role model, or mentors to guide us" so I thought it would be interesting to showcase women entrepreneurs who are out there building companies that are successful. The more I spoke with them the more I realized there was an outlet missing where they could connect with each other. So I started working on a pilot project, a Linkedin for women. I met Arielle and we realized we had a lot in common, so we merged our experiences to create LORI.biz.
AB: We don't hear about women owned initiatives, there's a problem [here]. Canada's the most favourable country for women entrepreneurs and yet Quebec is positioned last out of all the provinces. We only have 1 out of 3 women who are entrepreneurs.
LORI.biz is a hub for women entrepreneurs.
Blog - We support women entrepreneurs through our online platform, how-to articles and features where we showcase women entrepreneurs.
Conferences - During our conferences we put forward successful women entrepreneurs, and young entrepreneurs who are starting up. There's an interaction between those two generations of entrepreneurs which makes a great dynamic environment. Both men and women are invited to these events [because] men have as much to learn from women entrepreneurs as women do.
Fashion Shows - We decided to put together fashion shows to put forward young, creative, dynamic local designers; we get successful and known women entrepreneurs to walk down the runway in their collections. Some of the people that are there like fashion, so a lot of people are there for the influential woman. As for the young designers it gives them visibility, access to new clientele being the guests and there's good media coverage that comes out of it. We want it to be a different event - a fun event with business goals.
What struggles did you face when you launched your first event?
AB: The hardest struggle in the beginning was credibility. [When you're starting out], no one knows who you are. The fact that we were young and starting off that was the hardest but then things started to work organically and it wasn't a problem anymore.
SA: I think not having experience in event planning was actually beneficial for us, we brought new different ways of doing things, we thought outside the box. I think it was more of a strength than a weakness for us.
What have you learned in the last 3 years owning your own business with a partner?
AB: With a partner, it's not always easy (giggles), I'd say that it's learning to take it one step at a time. Also deadlines are important. It's very stressful doing events, launching new projects. We did a crowdfunding campaign, but we always give ourselves new objectives. We started off with the blog, then the events, then we wanted to do Lori Hub so always doing a new thing every year.
It's very scary, often we had very short time to do it in. What I've learned is when you fix yourself a deadline, you'll find a way to make it happen. Keeping sane is really hard, when you're starting something out, for myself - you really feel a rollercoaster of emotions - one day feels like the best day in the world, the next day nothing is working out, it's never going to go well. Take it one thing at a time, don't focus your stress on other things that aren't coming now. Have faith that you'll manage because you will.
SA: Be resilient and patient. It has been a strong asset for us because if we gave up on a lot of things we started, it wouldn't have happened. The fact that we truly believe in what we're doing and that we were resilient has helped us immensely.
How do you stay motivated?
AB: A big motivation for me is our partners who believe in our vision. The fact that people who succeeded or big businesses support you and believe in you. Getting emails from people who love what we do and who want to be implicated in what we do, that really motivates us to keep going.
SA: For me it's really the entrepreneurs who have came to thank us for what we do, saying they were able to meet this person or that person because of our events.
What's next for LORI.biz?
LORI Hub: this year we created "LORI Hub", a co working space which offers rent at a reduced price. it's taking the form of an incubator - we're working on a project with ISG UQam - they're be able to receive mentorship, entrepreneurial clinic, existing students entrepreneurial program can do internships in companies in exchange for credits. Our incubator is in place, we're almost ready to launch - stay tuned!
For us right now the most important thing is to keep growing the blog and continue doing the conferences and fashion shows.
For more information visit LORI.biz Website.
All photos have been provided by Amélie Picquette