Women Outside The Box
Women Outside The Box is an online community where women talk business. They exchange ideas, find suppliers and partners, access business information, promote their products and get inspired by real-life stories from successful female entrepreneurs.
A network of City Business Clubs brings women together offline to enhance the member benefits of this community. City Business Clubs focus on ambitious female entrepreneurs offering training, coaching and networking at a local level.
Our festivals – currently held annually in Bristol but due to spread - are designed to attract hundreds of women interested in running a business. They offer massive networking potential, practical business workshops and inspirational speakers alongside a showcase of female enterprises and regional suppliers.
Women are starting businesses in greater numbers than ever before. To maximise their chances of success they need advice, contacts and confidence. This is what Women Outside The Box offers.
Women Outside The Box aims to be the go-to community for women in business. This includes women involved in running high-growth start-ups, more traditional SMEs, micro enterprises and freelancing as well as those thinking about starting a business.
WOTB leverages the move to portfolio careers and better work-life balance that women seek. Advances in technology, cheaper telephony and social changes where home and office blend, all conspire to make entrepreneurship an aspiration for many women today.
For many women they will be the first in their family, and perhaps among their friends, ever to run a business. Women Outside The Box will offer them the support and role models they need to build their confidence and skills so they thrive financially.
We estimate the UK market to be over 2 million and through our free services we aim to reach 200,000 women.
We aim to generate paid online membership of 3,000 (2014-5); 8,000 (2015-16); 20,000 (2016-7).
We aim to have City Business Clubs running in 10 major UK cities within 18 months and to be growing worldwide.
We aim to increase the number of festivals to cover the main regions of the UK.
The pictures below highlight some of the fantastic events we have held already.
Substantial accomplishments to date
- One of first ten start-ups selected by WebStart for its incubation and investment programme.
- Created the UK’s biggest festival of female entrepreneurship, 1000 signups. Bristol 2012, 2013.
- Big Breakfasts attracting 100-150 female business owners International Womens Day 2012, 2013, 2014.
- WOTB City Business Clubs launched in Bristol July 2013. 41 members to date.
- WOTB Online went live March 2014 optimised for all devices. 1000-1700 visitors per month.
- Winner or finalist of many awards including Bristol Post Women in Business Awards Winner. NatWest Venus Women In Business Awards Finalist. Jacqueline Gold’s #WOW awards Winner. StartUps 100 Winner. Institute of Directors Women Changing the Business World Finalist.
- IOD partner for Festival 2013.
Exclusive member deals negotiated with business suppliers.
Women Outside the Box has three income streams:
1. WOTB Online is a classic freemium model where site visitors can freely access a lot of useful information. Enthusiasts are encouraged to opt for the premium service – membership. This is by annual subscription (£36). Further online income comes from:
-Commission on offers members purchase.
-Sale of premium retail listings on our site for members (not yet available).
-Sale of training packs (not yet available).
2. City Business Clubs charge annual subscriptions for membership (£200).
3. Events and festivals – sale of exhibition stands, sponsorship deals, ticket sales.
Use of proceeds
80% Growing the team.
We have agreement from the Regional Growth Fund to DOUBLE the value of incoming funds used to bring women into tech jobs in Women Outside The Box. So we will use £20K towards staff salaries to improve user experience, forum engagement and enhance digital marketing initiatives to drive up membership. Our two new hires will also help manage the spread of our City Business Clubs and other offline events.
20% Website and training packs development.
We want to start making upsells to premium retail listings and downloadable training packs as soon as possible.
- Are considering starting a business, currently running a life-style business, work as freelancers or are currently running a micro or SME.
This includes students leaving university; new mothers from corporate careers looking to ditch the commute; women facing redundancy; women leaving the services; women over 50 looking for a better work-life balance. All of these segments need information, a network of contacts, a place to ask advice and share ideas.
This includes women in part-time home-based businesses. They need a network to relieve the isolation, to share best practice and to think bigger for when children start school.
These include women who have left corporate or agency life usually through redundancy or a partner’s job move. They need to find complementary business partners to offer a more complete service and to find clients from among other businesses.
- Business owners and CEOs
These include women in both traditional and high-growth sectors. Some will be part of family-run companies. They need inspiration and confidence to scale their business and may need to keep in touch with how business is changing. They may need time away from being the boss to meet other women who understand their life.
Government figures suggest there are over one million women running their own business in the UK. We believe there might be at least one million more women who are considering self-employment. Due to public and private sector downsize and turning to outsourced services, we feel this market is growing.
Characteristics of target market
UK Market size (our estimate)
- 1 million women running a business (BIS statistic) with at least 1 million considering starting a business.
- UK market growth We believe this to be a growing market as we see the recent massive move to outsourcing.
- Global growth Similar changes have occurred in most countries. Many countries including the USA have instituted policies to help develop more women entrepreneurs. This suggests our target market is in the millions.
- Is ‘women-only’ really a separate market segment? We believe women have special characteristics which are not currently well-served by entrepreneurship websites and networks.
Women with a family are time-poor. They need online networking and business help they can access anywhere, anytime, on their phone or tablet. We believe many women still lack confidence and connections to put together start-up teams and seek funding. Our inspirational role models can help.
- Build brand awareness through Google rankings and social media, entering the debate on women’s and business issues.
- Incentivise members to get friends and colleagues to join.
- Run a major national competition to find the best women-led start-up with a very sizeable prize. (This competition is already agreed and funded by our strategic partner).
- Build hubs of influence in all major UK cities through City Business Clubs and other training events, festivals and Big Breakfasts run by City Leaders on a profit-share basis.
- Improve user experience and content and make the forum fully engaging to convert visitors to paid members. (These strategies will be run out by the new hires Seedrs and the Regional Growth Fund make possible).
Upsell online members to premium listings and training packs. (These areas of the site will be developed with the balance of our Seedrs funding).
There are several women’s entrepreneurship sites but we believe they serve their market poorly. Most target life-style business owners with small amounts of general business advice and lots of confidence-building and life-coaching.
Whereas Women Outside The Box has a massive online business resource for members and our Forum discusses practical issues as well as offering inspiration and guidance.
Off-line women’s networks are popular but women scaling a business are soon put off by the influx of direct sellers and network marketers such groups survive on. Our City Business Clubs only target women with ambitions to grow to SME size and the training we offer them covers funding, tech and other issues few other women’s groups tackle.
Our festival and other events accept all women in business but still offer our unique blend of ambition, information and professionalism.
As our online resources and features grow, supported by an offline network of City Business Clubs and other events, we believe we have a head-start which will make it difficult for new entrants into the market to gain traction.