Leaving a Social Legacy for good: Ravina A. on FLIK
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
Ever find it daunting to talk to industry professionals and entrepreneurs? You’re not alone - we get that it isn’t easy to speak directly to highly qualified personnel you barely know, so we’ve started #spotLITE Blogs, where on a biweekly basis, we interview an entrepreneur about their journey and how they’ve dealt with all struggles they’ve had. Let us know of any questions you’d like us to ask just so that we can help you make the most out of these!
Written and hosted by Sara A., an incoming second-year Sauder Student
Despite her extremely busy schedule, Ravina C Anand, co-founder of FLIK, sat down with us to talk about the rapidly growing startup fueled by women empowerment.
Hi Ravina - Let’s start with the basics. Tell me about yourself - where did you go for university, what was your major, anything!
For sure. I’m Ravina - from Alberta, and I’ve completed a Bachelor of Science, a Masters in Public Policy and Global Affairs, and I will be attending the University of Calgary pursuing a Doctor of Medicine.
So, to cut to the chase - what is FLIK about?
FLIK stands for “Female Laboratory of Innovative Knowledge” that my co-founder, Michelle, and I started during our time at Next36, a program for promising young entrepreneurs. It’s the first female-focused apprenticeship portal that focuses on connecting female entrepreneurs with talented and diverse students; this way, students receive valuable mentorship throughout their university life and are also able to contribute to their entrepreneur’s venture. FLIK allows women leaders and students across the world to connect without any physical constraints, which has been especially useful when there is such untapped women talent in several underserved populations such as that in Nigeria and India. Currently, we have 350 ongoing and completed apprenticeships from more than 28 countries since January 2020, when we launched our beta product. After the 3-month apprentice agreement, apprentices are free to find a new match or get hired!
How did you come up with the idea?
Haha, good question. For us, we both had a strong science background, with no experience in business. It’s sometimes hard for us to even come to terms of being an “entrepreneur”, but we both knew that we wanted to use our skills to create social change. It was about community, diversity, equity and leveraging our interest in tech to build something that could be used from anywhere, have an immense reach, and tangible outcomes. Once we were connecting with well known female leaders, we then received a lot of interest from young women across more than 28 countries wanting to know how to connect with such leaders. That’s when we decided to connect the two parties. Our aim was to leave a social legacy for good!
“Our aim was to leave a social legacy for good”
How did you build your professionals network and your internal team?
To be completely honest, we used cold emailing to build our professional network - we even emailed Arianna Huffington from Huffington Post and to our surprise, we had an amazing response! We even had the opportunity to cover Michelle Obama’s conversation at the Elevate Tech Festival, amongst other empowered female businesswomen! Through this, we were able to connect with so many female entrepreneurs across the globe. As for our internal team, Michelle and I used our personal networks and connections. Through my international experiences in Portugal, Taiwan and Israel, I already knew a wide array of people I wanted on my team! For example, I knew Hannah from my master’s program at UBC and recognized how talented she was at writing and engaging an audience, so we decided to bring her onboard as the Head of Storytelling! So definitely leveraging your own networks to bring on people you know would add value to the business.
“FLIK allows women leaders and students across the world to connect without any physical constraints”
Do you have any advice for students wanting to start their own business?
Oooh! Good question!! Yes definitely. One thing I’d say is just to get started - start building and mapping everything out. Not everything will be perfect, like our portal is definitely a work in progress, but everything is an evolving piece of work and that’s okay. And definitely leverage that student status. As a student, you have such a large range of resources to use - from your professors to your student connections, it’s a great time to start something of your own if you’re interested and dedicated! Definitely also research fellowships in your area and/or beyond your school such as Next36 (provides up to $80,000 to pursue your idea is selected), League of Innovators amongst others. I will be publishing a resource soon for our FLIK community on the best way to approach this! Definitely be on the lookout for it (you can connect with Ravina via LinkedIn).
Definitely. I feel like sometimes we take being students for granted and forget how many resources we have available to us right now compared to after graduating! So another question we got a lot was how did you deal with rejection? I’m sure you had to deal with it a lot during your journey!
See, rejection is inevitable. For me, I knew my three passions and stuck to them. In my head, I knew how they interconnected in a comprehensive way. And if it didn’t to someone else, that’s honestly fine. People are constantly pushed to fit a box, but it’s okay if you don’t fit into that mold. It’s important to keep going and to create your own opportunities is also very important. I have been
the one to really go out there and get those opportunities for myself and they haven’t always just come and landed in my lap - it really depends on being proactive and searching for those opportunities yourself.
“Leverage your student status”
I completely agree and I’m glad you kept on going! Another popular question was how did you manage FLIK during the pandemic?
Great question! During the pandemic, we decided to suspend the paywall that founders usually contribute to which keeps us sustainable (we use this money for bandwidth, internal recruiting and outreach and scholarships), so during this time, we closed it to make it more accessible. Not only this, but we realized that during this time, a lot of young students had their internships cancelled and so there was definitely a surge in the numbers of apprenticeships. But FLIK had the advantage - it connects people remotely as well, so many apprenticeships were completed and our awareness definitely rose!
“People are constantly pushed to fit in a box but it’s okay if you don’t fit into that mold”
What’s one thing you wished you knew before starting FLIK?
I have no regrets. We have overcome various learning obstacles and gained incredible value from navigating a completely new path that we are foraging together. However, if there was one thing I wish I knew was that when you’re starting a business, it’s not like starting a school club where people have other commitments so you have to have a larger team to make it work. When you’re building business, bring on people that are mission-aligned and passionate about your vision. Our strong and small core team of 6 is dedicated towards the social drivers of FLIK. Each one of them are superstars at what they do, I’m very grateful to be surrounded by their motivation and intelligence. Each one of them adds immensely to the growth of FLIK.
“I have no regrets”
Amazing advice! So now that we’re drawing to a close, any future plans for FLIK?
Haha, definitely. I can’t say too much yet, but we have a new scholarship coming soon, which will be accessible to everyone across the world, because we don’t think that your eligibility for a scholarship should be restricted by where you live. But other than that, we definitely want to create more partnerships, build a larger and more meaningful FLIK apprenticeship community. We are also looking into creating spaces for our diverse founders and apprentices, especially through their cultural backgrounds. One end goal is definitely for FLIK to be with the young student from when they are an apprentice to when they become founder!
I love that idea of mini hubs because I definitely feel that founders and students from the same cultural background may be more comfortable to connect! Okay, well thank you Ravina for being on here with us!
NEW NEWS!! UBC Grad 20’ Receives The Diana Award
After having spoken to Ravina just recently, we received the surprise that shortly after she received the Diana Award!
The Diana Award is the most prestigious award a young person aged 9-25 years can receive for their social action or humanitarian work and is given out in memory of Princess Diana. It is supported by The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex.
“I feel honoured and humbled to receive an award in memory of Princess Diana and her belief that young people have the power to change the world. Young people have the ability to leave a social impact in multiple ways. For myself, that means creating meaningful and purposeful technology that can solve large scale social problems.”
On July 1st Ravina received the award and participated in a ceremony that was moved to virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions. Ravina was joined by the Duke of Sussex, Liam Payne, Dame Emma Thompson, and many other prominent guests and performers. You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_Z7WkBQAZ0
Thank you so much for reading! We really hoped you gained something from Ravina’s nuggets of wisdom! We wish her the best for FLIK, and urge you all to join the revolutionary startup! Stay tuned for our next blog :) Check them out at weareflik.com and contact Ravina at firstname.lastname@example.org.