There is nothing more inspiring and empowering than women who work together and support one another. This group of women’s collaborative work resulted in something unique and innovative that works to serve mothers and families in engaging their children in fun family activities across the UAE.
Simona Agolini, Claudia Ribas, Ines Mena, Therese Hundt and Nourhan Hassan had careers within a variety of corporate backgrounds, but one common role, being a mother. The 5-woman team discovered that they were on a constant search to find interesting ways to spend family time, but couldn’t find anything substantial to go back to every time. This market gap fueled their motivation for the idea.
Employing an all-female work team, the women behind QiDZ talk to AboutHer.com about their handy enterprise, the challenges of entrepreneurship whilst balancing everything that is important to every woman: work, motherhood and family.
Tell us a little about the Qidz app, where did the idea come from?
We are five female co-founders, all with different corporate backgrounds and as we started the most challenging career of our lives (as parents!) we realized that the information that we were looking for – ie. what to do with your kids and the family – was not there or not available in a consolidated, up-to-date and relevant manner. We realized that we were constantly asking our friends and acquaintances about what was going on and what they recommended - and that is how QiDZ was born, driven by our own need and our own desire to create family fun for our own families.
Five of you founded the business - what bought you all together?
Yes, 5 female co-founders. Well Ines, Simona and Claudia have been friends for a long time – 10+ years. And Claudia used to work with Nourhan and Therese, and realized that they would bring complementary skills to the team. The brilliant thing about all of us is that we all have different backgrounds and experiences which helps with diversity of ideas and creates a very balanced team.
What were you doing before you came up with the idea for the app?
Each one of us was working in corporate world. Simona worked in Oil and Gas, Ines in Media, Claudia, Nourhan and Therese in FMCG.
Creating an app doesn't seem like an easy feat. What challenges have you had to face in making your idea a reality and how did you overcome those challenges?
Launching your own business is difficult! So many people have ideas but never make it any further. It’s a big step to take to leave the comfort of a corporate job to start something completely new and taking it from an idea to something that is tangible and on the ground.
It’s the adjustment from having someone being able to solve the IT problem you are facing to having to do it yourself. As an entrepreneur you go from doing mundane admin one minute of the day to having a meeting with a CEO an hour later. In the corporate world these types of extremes don’t really happen.
Other challenges you face include all the legislative things around setting up a business and sorting out a bank account and tax numbers. As with all things in life, you just have to be patient, improvise, persist and leverage the advice and knowledge of others. And never give up.
As a collective of female entrepreneurs from all over the world, many would see you as inspirational. Who are the women that have inspired you on your journey so far?
There are so many women that have and continue to inspire us – all the female entrepreneurs around us here in the region who have launched their businesses and grown them to successful regional businesses, the mothers who juggle their families and their careers, the women who are making a difference to people’s lives every day (Nurses, Doctors), the unsung heroes who help make our lives more manageable AND Michelle Obama. She is just such a phenomenal leader, business woman, Ex-First Lady, mother and wife.
What does female empowerment mean to you and how do you use your position to empower other women?
Female empowerment to us means finding ways to provide women with opportunities that allow them to grow and develop professionally, contribute financially to the household or be financially independent, and be awesome mothers.
You all have families and children, how do you strike a balance between your careers and family?
Funny enough, it was probably easier in the corporate world. But seriously, it’s all about priorities and compromise, and that does not change whether you are in the corporate world or whether you are an entrepreneur. You need to have your own set of rules about what is important for you to do with your family and your kids, and make sure that you make that happen.
We all know what needs to get done and we get it done but it does not necessarily have to be done between 8am and 6pm – it can be done when the kids have gone to sleep and we understand each other’s priorities and we make it happen.
What advice would you give to other women who are looking to set up their own businesses but don't know where to make a start?
Reach out to people who have already set up their businesses and invite them for a coffee. You will find that many entrepreneurs are willing to give back and that everyone has been in the same situation previously. People are usually willing to share their feedback and learnings. Additionally, it is great to find a partner and have someone to share the pain and the successes, but choose your partner wisely as not having the right partner can be a disaster.
Lastly, what words of empowerment would you like to share with our readers?
If you don’t try, you won’t know, and one day you may wake up regretting that you no longer can. So, if you want to do something, figure out a plan to make it happen and just do it.
Check out the app here.