Advice Piece from Humaira Ahmed, CEO of Locelle
Humaira started Locelle a mentorship platform for working women in tech two and a half years ago. She has two young daughters and as an ambitious working mom herself, she has realized the importance of finding like-minded women to connect with and share valuable experiences and knowledge. Her mentorship platform is for any woman who is looking for a mentor in the workplace that can provide help and advice for women who are aspiring to one day become leaders themselves.
“There are currently many programs for women in leadership but there isn’t much out there for women who want to get there - and that is a major challenge for women in the workplace.”
While generously offering her time to participate in eProjects’ CEO Speed Dating Event , Humaira found that one question from students really stood out to her: “I’ve been told that my first startup will fail, so why even try?”. The statement that “your first startup will most probably fail” is a very true one. Even successful entrepreneurs such as Humaira have experienced this as she had previously run her own marketing agency before Locelle. But she also questions what failure even is? It looks different to different people but the one common thing arising from failure is learning.
“Even if you think you will fail just look at that as a learning opportunity. There is no school and no person that can teach you the valuable experience you will learn from running your own company and failing at it. It’s like MBA on steroids”.
When asked what her most valuable piece of advice was Humaira explains the importance of knowing how to sell. If she could redo her experience starting Locelle, she would have built a more basic prototype and seen how customers responded first before building a more complicated website. She explained that when you do your customer discovery first, it provides numerous valuable insights such as who you should target if there is a strong market for your product and how to best position yourself. However, it is also important to be wary when conducting customer research as she states “don’t just ask your friends and family - they won’t tell you the truth”. Reaching out to people who you don’t know well in the community will provide unbiased opinions.
“Before you spend a lot of time, energy and money on trying to build something, first get out there and try to sell your idea. If you can’t sell, it won’t work.”
And lastly, who best to give advice on networking and finding your own mentor than Humaira herself? She states that when looking for a mentor or to the network you must be really intentional. It is important to identify 3 key factors: why you are looking to network, what your goals are from it, and why they should give YOU their time. It is essential to be respectful of their time and ensure you follow up with a thank you!
“Remember, don't try to reach out to everybody. Be intentional and you will likely hear back if you are.”