Startup Diary: Jo Goodson: School Holiday Networking

Startup Diaries is a new section of our website where founders can post their startup stories in blog form, describing their entrepreneurial journey; the challenges and highlights, eureka moments, lessons learned and laughs had along the way. The idea is to build a collection of first person anecdotes from women building businesses, as a resource for other female founders. 

Our favourite Startup Diary blogs will be posted on our home page, like this one from Jo Goodson, Founder, Any Friend of Ours Ltd.

If you would like to write a Startup Diary, email our Editor beth@thenextwomen.com for details.

July and August are tricky as a working Mum because of the Summer holidays. I tried to work it out with a combination of quality, dedicated time together and then gaps whilst my son visits family, goes to his favourite sports camp or spends days/overnights with friends.

The week he was away at my parents was amazing because I could do a full working day like in the old days! Back to back meetings from 8 to 8pm were actually a joy……

During this period of ‘free’ time, I attended two fantastic networking events. Having started a business in a sector I have no contacts in, the networking has been absolutely crucial for me but I’ve discovered that not all networking events or groups are equal and it’s taken me some time to find the ones which are truly valuable. I would recommend trying a few events to see which are most relevant to you but I would also ask other people for their advice.

The first event I went to was a networking lunch for female entrepreneurs and was organised by the Supper Club*, a fantastic group which have really delivered great benefits to me since I joined. This was the first ladies only event and was tremendously successful. The Supper Club brings together the most successful, high growth entrepreneurs in a range of innovative ways so they can network, support and inspire each other.

The other event was The Constellation Club networking event which takes place early evening over a glass of wine (or two!) They successfully (I think and so do others I speak to) bring together a small, hand-picked group of like-minded people in and around the early stage enterprise space with a mix of investors, companies, clients and advisors** 

I think it’s important not to underestimate the value of networking. Here are a couple of quotes from highly successful female entrepreneurs who I have had the fortune to meet:

Julie Meyer - founder and CEO of Ariadne Capital and BBC online Dragon:
"Networking events and online networking are a crucial tool in every entrepreneur’s quest to scale their business quickly.

The more people you meet and talk to about the business, the faster you will get feedback to hone your proposition, meet potential investors and reach customers…. It’s also a great way to find new talent to build your team.

"Online networking is an incredibly powerful platform when it’s used in the right way so that it accelerates the real world reach of your business rather than becoming something that absorbs a lot of time for little return. That’s why it’s important to figure out which bits are relevant to you and do those brilliantly while ignoring the other channels that won’t work nearly as well for your audiences."

Lara Morgan – founder of Pacific Direct and Company Shortcuts:
"Networking is a system of give and get. You need to put in as much effort as others who value that system if you want any sort of payback – in short you have to be giving…”

You need to identify the top networks in your own business sphere but do sit down and look at your existing contacts and see if they can help too. The best networking is where both parties can see a benefit in potential partnerships.

I’ve worked with many people who do not seem to value networking but it can be incredibly useful. My first business was in an industry I had worked in for years where I had built up my network of contacts and so connecting with the right people when I started up myself wasn’t an issue. Any Friend of Ours is inspired more by a personal problem I had experienced and is in an industry I was unfamiliar with so I have to go out and network to meet the people who will help me grow the business. I was introduced to my accountant who specialises in the travel industry by a contact I met at such an event and in turn he then introduced me to a specialist travel lawyer whose advice has proved invaluable! It’s an ongoing task and it isn’t always easy but it is necessary.  

* The Supper Club brings together the most successful, high growth entrepreneurs in a range of innovative ways so tey can network, support and inspire each other. To be a member you have to qualify – you must turnover more than £1m, be an established business (of have run an established business within the last 3 years), you must be the founder

**Attendance of the Constellation Club is by invitation only

Jo Goodson started her career in and around the software industry in 1999 when she joined Broderbund as their second European employee and grew revenues from £0 to £12m in three years. She then went on to co-found MediaGold, which, with further offices and bases in France, Italy, Spain and Germany, created an entity that gave US software publishers access to the European market place. She sold that business to Avanquest in 2003 following years of solid growth and profitability. 

During 2005 and 2006, Jo acted as interim COO for Julie Meyer at investment and advisory firm Ariadne Capital.

Since then Jo has advised and invested in a wide range of companies in and around software space including Ariadne Capital, an investment and advisory firm; Indigo Pearl, a games industry PR company;  Mediatonic and Playmob. She is also a Non-Executive Director of Six to Start  who recently released the highly successful iphone app. Zombies, Run!

Jo has recently launched Any Friend of Ours: an online private membership community for second home owners looking to rent their properties within a closed, trusted network.

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