A co-working space focused on catering to female startup founders has opened in London, aimed at creating a comfortable environment for female entrepreneurs.
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Called Blooms, the working space and members’ club was created by Lu Li, founder and CEO of Blooming Founders, as an accelerator to help female startup founders in their early stages.
Although the space has been designed with women in mind, it is not female-only. Li said the aim is to create a space that is open and inclusive for everyone.
“Blooms’ vision as London’s first female-focused business club is to create an inspirational environment for founders to work from and do business in,” she said. “We provide the right setting and access to a diverse community to enable our members to focus on work, life and success, while providing a sanctuary.”
More than half of women are less attracted to a job in technology than men are, and many female founders in the tech industry, especially in Silicon Valley, have struggled with the industry culture when in the early stages of their startup. Li said this male-led culture usually stems from the industry having been “created by guys for guys”.
The culture in the technology industry is gradually shifting, but some firms still lack an inclusive, flexible culture.
Blooms aims to offer a culture of flexibility and community as well as comfort to match the things female founders often look for in a workspace.
Blooms members are given access to mentors, events and opportunities to network, and have flexibility through facilities such as an on-site crèche and 24-hour access, including weekends.
Li said: “Some 80% of women become mothers at some point in their lives. That is a big disruption to our working lives and the infrastructure doesn’t really cater for that.”
Imposter syndrome, a term used to describe accomplished individuals who are unable to accept their own abilities, is often associated with women in the IT industry – and many female founders have described how hard they have found it to work alone as an entrepreneur, something Li admitted she felt when she started her business two and a half years ago.
“I have realised along my entrepreneurial journey that it is very lonely and very hard and a lot of women are trying to do it on their own,” she said.
Blooms memberships will be available through a credit-based system and start at 12 days, which can be used across 12 months.
“We wanted to create an environment that was female founder-friendly, but open to everybody,” said Li. “We have gained fantastic support from investors, experts and other mentors to help our growing community, and we have seen a real appetite for our memberships.”
Female startup founders can often find it difficult to raise funding, so Blooming Founders has also announced it will launch a digital platform to connect founders and investors, as well as experts and mentors from different areas of expertise.
Alex Depledge, a mentor at Blooms and founder and CEO of BuildPath.com, said that although there have been many #metoo stories in the media surrounding “women in vulnerable positions being subjected to men in powerful positions”, she has not experienced this problem herself because she worked with a female co-founder.
Depledge encouraged other female founders to “find your tribe” because it can be difficult to navigate entrepreneurship alone – something Blooms can help with.
“Unless we have a space to call our own, where we can connect with each other and meet people, we’re not going to succeed,” she said.
Many have claimed that for women to gain parity in the tech industry, they not only have to gain support from the men at the top of organisations who make decisions, but need to adopt a “pay it forward culture” and support each other.
Depledge urged: “As you are climbing that ladder, you must turn around and extend a hand a pull those up behind you.” ……………………………………………………………………………………………………