By Emma Kay, Founder of WalkSafe+
Serena Williams a few weeks ago, announced that she is leaving tennis and turning her focus to being a female entrepreneur and investor. She has written cheques for companies big and small, whilst encouraging other women in the position to invest to do so – as she says “Sometimes like attracts like”. This is so important in this day and age, we have to support each other as women in business, the more women support each other, the more that number will rise.
My one goal with WalkSafe+ is to make the streets a safer, fairer place for women. When I go into meetings with large organisations, I’m often confronted with men who I’m having to explain the fear that women have when they walk our streets – often simply trying to get home. If I hadn’t founded this business, as a woman, those companies wouldn’t have access to my knowledge, my experiences. It’s so important that women speak loudly and have a voice, that we have a seat at the table.
Half of the problem is to get these female founders through the door so they are listened too. To be honest; I think the change needs to come even before those meetings, women need more support and help with their decks, advice and access to genuine, helpful people who can give actionable, useful advice. I’d really like to see more VC’s spending time reaching out to female founders to see how they can help – then we can get the seats at the table and make a difference! I’m very grateful to our investors – Fearless Adventures, they particularly loved our vision, but specifically wanted to help a female founder. There is such a lack of representation in this area and they wanted to help society and have another woman in this space.
My background is in early years education, I managed nurseries and before the pandemic I owned a beauty business, and then during the pandemic launched WalkSafe+ to provide a much needed solution to personal safety concerns. Starting a business is scary, you don’t know where that journey is going to take you – you can plan as much as you like but often the world is going to throw obstacles in your way. Whether it’s finding the money to take your business to the next level, finding the right people to run your business with you, making sure your clients are happy – there are so many challenges, but I always say – follow where your interests lie, find something that makes your heart sing. Then you will succeed.
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone starting out in business, it would be listen to your gut – every decision I’ve made for WalkSafe+ has been right, but I’m often scared to voice it; I often felt that I didn’t have credentials of the other people in the room and therefore didn’t have as much of a voice. In all of those rooms, in those conversations about my business I’ve been right and they’ve been wrong, if I had trusted myself and my own intuition it would have had a different outcome. This is of course, easier said that done; particularly being a woman it is hard to have a seat at that table and then also to have the courage to speak up in those situations. Something I’m telling myself now, not just what I’d tell my younger self is – trust myself, speak up for what I know to be true and right – if not just for myself but for other women in the situation, if I can’t do it for myself do it for the other people out there that don’t have that voice.
Starting WalkSafe+ has been such an amazing learning opportunity, it’s completely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I’m so grateful for the journey that the last 2 years has taken me on and I can’t wait to see where we go next.