Welcome to fifth instalment of #FemaleFounders. This week, we sat down with serial entrepreneur Pam Bateson, a founding member of Thrive Partners. Thrive is Pam’s third business and is set to be one of her most successful to date. With a place on the Mayor of London’s International Business Programme and coverage in The Times and Forbes under their belt, Thrive is already taking the tech world by storm.
Thrive offers an invaluable platform to businesses looking to improve themselves from the inside out. Not only can Thrive offer professional coaching with a network of remote coaches they also use machine learning to record and transcribe conversations to help businesses better understand their strengths and weaknesses. Their platform is a game-changer and we were super excited to sit down with its founder to discuss how Thrive came into being and the lessons its founder has had along the way.
1. Why did you start your business? What spurred you on?
When I first set out to make the platform I asked myself a key question; can you have fast, meaningful conversations? Often, the process behind understanding why employees were happy or unhappy, was slow and arduous – and the conversations were usually lost to the ether. Professional coaching suffered with a similar problem; everything felt too manual. I wanted to revolutionise how those conversations happened and ensure businesses got better at developing their business whilst improving their employees.
2. What are the unique challenges you have faced as a female founder?
In our industry it’s keeping pace with the tech we use, everything changes so quickly. My team and I had to learn how to put something together that hadn’t been done before. In some ways we had some steep learning curves to overcome. However, this is my third business so there were many areas of the start-up formula that I was comfortable and confident with. Outside of the tech, it’s got to be balancing work with kids and the constant travelling.
3. What were the steepest learning curves during your first year in business?
I think one of our biggest challenges has been setting prices; we were constantly questioning how to price ourselves into the market. I work in a male-dominated industry so another thing I’ve had to learn is negotiating like a man. I’ve learned it’s important to prize your asset and your intelligence and hold your nerve. It has also been hard working as a single parent and building a business.
I’ve learned it’s important to prize your asset and your intelligence. Hold your nerve.
4. What is your favourite thing about founding your own company?
I like the freedom it affords me. I love having the capacity to innovate and design in response to the customer which just wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
5. What is the best business advice you have been given by someone else?
- Start with the end in mind. Think about where you want to be, rather than build it from what you’ve got. You’ve got to be able to build out rather than ditch and start again.
- Don’t be afraid to change your mind. Don’t be afraid to get left even if you’ve been convincing people to go right.
- Give away equity slowly. You have other bargaining chips to use.
Don’t be afraid to go left even if you’ve been convincing people to go right.
6. What business tools can’t you live without?
All of our tech stack – it’s built our product. Alongside that, we’ve got a mixture of technical giants and independents that we rely on. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM and Watson all help our business operate at its best. We also us Skype for Business for all of our Masterclass training.
7. When you’ve got a tough business decision to make what would be your first steps to solving the problem?
Talk to the team and business partners and talk to one of my mentors or coaches; many minds are better than one.
8. Who are your heroines and why? Give us two.
I prefer to say women that I respect and admire, rather than heroines. But my two choices are; Sherry Coutu who is a multiple entrepreneur and founders for schools. She’s a fantastically bright and socially minded person. I have huge admiration for The Gates Foundation – and what Melindaand Bill have achieved in the health arena. And, of course,Oprah Winfreywho always comes across as principled and authentic.
9. What piece of advice would you give yourself if you were starting your business now?
I’d say it’s two things:
- Approach your strategy differently; spend more time defining your strategy before you begin.
- Hire tech people from day one and don’t outsource.
10. What’s your go-to marketing tactic for your small business? Why?
One of our most effective techniques was winning a Mayor’s Awardearly on. That one award got us press coverage in a lot of high profile places, including The Times and Forbes. Those editorials have directly bought us business. Another tactic that we’ve found successful is letting journalists in to talk to clients, trusting that the right story will come through. Outside of that it has been things like events and breakfast seminars we’ve had loads of FTSE 100 come and listen to our talks and network at our events.