Innovative start-up founders have a key role to play in lifting New Zealand’s economic performance, but out of the thousands of start-ups, only one fifth (21.6 percent) are female-led.
Catie Dawson of Super Creative has set out to change that, creating a popular podcast targeted at women in the start-up and creative scene, as well as future entrepreneurs.
Having interviewed the likes of CEO and Founder of Boring Oat Milk, Morgan Maw, CEO of perfume company Abel, Frances Shoemack to the brains and Co-Founder of investment company, Victoria Harris of The Curve, Dawson is all about celebrating and championing these female entrepreneurs.
“I have understood that it is a male-led business and I have had to make decisions around my role and my career based on that. I wasn’t empowered as a woman. I want my daughters to have all this knowledge,” she says.
Dawson spent 18 years of her career working in marketing and design across a range of industries. In between her full-time nine-to-five, Dawson was a budding entrepreneur, but never found any of her ideas made it off the ground.
This was how she came up with the idea for the podcast: she had many questions such as ‘how do you start a business?’ and ‘where do you get the money?’ and she wanted them answered.
“That’s how it started: a whole range of things and pure nosiness,” she admits.
Three years down the line, Dawson has had over 50 episodes, giving these female entrepreneurs a platform to celebrate their work and inspire others.
“Everyone is different, and that’s been really, really interesting. It’s really opened my eyes to the different ways of [how to] do things,” she says.
She adds that these women have had diverse paths into entrepreneurship, with some having a long career background, while others get straight into it at a young age.
The world is completely different from five, even 10 years ago, so the way everyone approached the world of start-ups is entirely unique.
Having talked to over 50 female entrepreneurs who have experienced different things, she says there is still so much to learn from them.
“I wish I’d had this resource for myself 15 years ago, because it would’ve been so helpful in terms of sort of starting a business,” says Dawson.
Read more: The future of female start-up founders
In particular, Dawson remembers her episode with Julia Matthews, Founder of health and wellness brand Two Islands, where she emphasises the importance of the customer and having them as a priority.
“She still spends some time answering customer emails, and answering the phone, and answering DM’s, and things like that. She said, ‘I get a bit of pushback on that from my directors’ but for her ‘if we don’t have customers we don’t have a business’,” Dawson adds.
“I talked to Morgan Maw from Boring Oat Milk last year. I mean, her episode was one of our most popular ones, and it’s just such an education. From her, there were so many lessons. One of them was sticking with your idea.”
A lesson learnt every episode, Dawson finds herself applying so much of these learnings into her very own podcast business.
Running her own podcast but also freelancing on the side, Dawson says her own personal lesson that she has learnt is to “not be afraid to fail”.
As cheesy as it sounds, Dawson admits it is basic but necessary. If one is able to start something and one thing doesn’t go right, it is a chance to pivot, learn from it and change.
For those future entrepreneurs, a lesson Dawson says she has heard both time and time again but also something she would say to her younger self “is to just start”.
“A lot of the time people get these ideas and they’re too scared to start. They think of all the things that could go wrong, that you never will know if you don’t just start,” she explains.
Apart from learning from female entrepreneurs, Dawson looks at her podcast as a platform to celebrate and champion females in the space that for so long have not been recognised on the same level as their male counterparts.
“Twenty years ago this a podcast like this wouldn’t have even existed, 20 years ago these stories would’ve been quite different,” she admits.
“I celebrate and champion women in business because I am one, and I want to be one, and I want to celebrate women like me that are doing it all.”