15 Mar 2022
International Womens Day 2022 has kickstarted our 'So She Did’ podcast — a celebration of the incredible women across our community as we venture forward on our mission to inspire women to believe they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
Women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and although we've seen improvements in representation in recent years, we still have a long way to go. Tramshed Tech is soon to expand to new locations across Wales and beyond and we want women to be front and centre in this growth.
Over the coming months, we’ll be hearing from women and girls across a spectrum of age groups, ethnicities, backgrounds and industries. We'll learn from women who have trailblazed their way to the top, ones who are still figuring it out and those who are just getting started.
In this week’s episode Lucy Bulley, COO at Wolfberry Cyber will be talking to friend and business partner Fran Brazil who runs a successful home fitness and apparel company Zero.One% alongside other ventures such as their Airb-easy company which they run together.
Lucy and Fran talk about the journey that led to them accidentally becoming women in tech, including how they overcame imposter syndrome to diversify their income streams – least of all, how they balance motherhood and entrepreneurialism.
I've been busy! So I (Fran) own a fitness business called Zero.One% – we started in January 2019 with an idea – a patent pending t-shirt and since then we’ve grown and now sell a range of fitness equipment online. I’m now pursuing full time entrepreneurship, managing the day to day of our business Airb-easy as well as being a full-time mum. What about you Lucy?
Many things. Spinning many plates, wearing many hats, which goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship, doesn’t it. I don’t know about you; I don’t like calling myself an entrepreneur? Instead, I try to reel of this really long list of stuff that I do!
I’m COO of Wolfberry Cyber, a multi-award winning cyber security company based in Tramshed Tech. My role is around structuring them for sustainable growth. There’s bit of a boom in cyber security at the moment given the fact that in the wake of COVID-19, people were forced to leave the safety of their offices and what that means for companies and employees.
In my ‘spare time’ I also do consultancy with startups, where I share my experience of fast growth companies, with founders and COOs in their first year or two years of starting up. Then, we’ve got our passion project in Airb-easy.
Airb-easy it’s a great example of a tech businesses run by ‘non-techy’ people. Neither of us have extensive experience in technology which can be intimidating when running a tech company, but we haven’t let that impact the mission.
The idea for Airb-easy came from a simple discussion. Fran was renting out a property in Cardiff but living in Swansea, so rather than her travelling back and forth all the time, I (Lucy) offered to help with managing the property. We realised that there must be hundreds, if not thousands of people in this same position with similar pain points and just like that, Airb-easy was born.
It went from being a very physical service driven concierge model to a model which supported people who wanted to create an income using their property on Airbnb without the time-consuming aspects of managing their listing and communicating with guests. We realised that there was a business in this but it’s a manual process and we have limited capacity. This resulted in us turning to technology and automation.
Managing the day-to-day side of any business is a very manual task. There are days when you are juggling your main role with your side hustle whilst balancing being a mum and some days there’s sheer panic. but there is a way to systemise that, and it was almost like a lightbulb moment one day: We can make something that can do all this for us.
That's what is interesting in the stage that we are now at. We have a profitable business, but we want to take it to a completely different stratosphere by using our knowledge, keeping our personalities and then wrapping a layer of tech around that for us to be able to upscale.
It was always the plan to have multiple income streams. It got to the point though where I'd work all day and side hustle all night, which was not sustainable. The more I worked the bigger Zero.One% grew and I thought I can do this full time.
I think we both came from environments where we pride ourselves on giving 100% to our employers, and there was no room for anything else. When you think about it, your entire life, both personal and professional has been dictated by somebody or something that you don't have any control over.
I'm sure the majority of people struggle with mental health in the workplace when it comes to external pressures and not having control over what's going on. We have both committed to the goal of achieving several different revenue and passive income streams and it is something that I am we are very passionate about because we see the benefits.
Having things that you have an element of control over is not only pivotal for your self-esteem, confidence and professional development but it also acts as an insurance policy – a plan B that you can dial up and dial down depending on your capacity – it's a no brainer.
“Some days there’s sheer panic with the amount of work you’ve got to do juggling multiple businesses but there is a way to systemise that and... it was almost like a lightbulb moment one day. We can make something to do all of this for us.”
— Fran Brazil, Co-founder of Airb-easy and Zero.One%
Technology is very a male dominated industry. We have some amazing female founders in the tech space but there’s still a long way to go. Confidence and belief in yourself is key to working in a male-dominated world.
Know your strengths and if there’s something you are unsure how to do, ask people who are experts in this field. When I left full time employment to become a full-time entrepreneur, I was scared that I wasn't going to have the comfort blanket of a wage every month. I was about to take the leap into something outside of my comfort zone. That was intimidating, but the amount of people that I have met on the Startup Academy and in Tramshed Tech in general as well as the team at Wolfberry has been such a support. .
If you have an idea, surround yourself by people who are going through similar challenges as well as a network of people who are in different stages of growth. The Startup Academy is great because you’re all in the same boat, you've got an idea and you are going for it There's nothing to be afraid of. That is Don't let the little man in your shoulder make you doubt your abilities.
If you’re thinking of starting a business why not join the Startup Academy our free 12 week programme for pre-start, post-start and early stage businesses.