We are delighted to introduce you to one of our Women’s Business School graduates Donna Fisher, founder of SheSaw.
When did you start your business?
SheSaw was established in February 2020.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
I love to travel and uncover stories of the people and events that have shaped a country. But I found that the stories I generally heard were men’s stories. It’s like the women were invisible. In India, I had an excellent female guide, Dee, who gave me an entirely different perspective on her country. She told me about women from the past who weren’t in travel guides and shared what it was like to live in India as a woman. I wanted to replicate the experience I had with Dee and run tours concentrating on telling women’s stories and sharing their experiences. I was on a mission to put women’s stories on the map.
What are you most excited about in your business?
I am most excited by our app and its impact on increasing the visibility of all women. The app combines tourism and tech to share women’s stories worldwide via our unique virtual statues. As people take one of our self-guided walks, AR statues will appear via their phone’s camera and share a story about a local woman who has impacted the area. Only 4% of statues in the world are dedicated to women. This needs to change. There needs to be more public acknowledgement of women’s contribution to society. But the cost, time and environmental impact of doing this is substantial. And statues often don’t raise awareness of the person’s impact, meaning their story still isn’t being shared. And because the process of commission a statue is so onerous, only women who already have some kind of public profile are considered, meaning too many women are still overlooked.
SheSaw’s virtual statues provide a sustainable, affordable and engaging way to give public recognition to ALL women, even women who would never be considered for a traditional statue. For the cost of a bunch of flowers, people will be able to commission SheSaw to create a virtual statue for their mum, sister, aunty, gran, coach, teacher, doctor…anyone who has made a positive impact and deserves recognition. It’s their stories that really show how important women are in our society and the diverse ways that they make a difference in the world every day. They are the true heroes. We also contribute 10% of our profits to UN Women, so these stories will have an on-the-ground impact too.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
When Covid came along and closed travel indefinitely, a few weeks after we opened for bookings, I thought that was the end of SheSaw. But I looked at my mission statement, drank lots of coffee and tried to find another way to tell these women’s stories without leaving the house. SheSaw now has the potential to create much more visibility and empowerment for women, and show more people the world from a woman’s perspective.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
I had the vision but I didn’t have the tools to bring SheSaw to life. In fact I didn’t even know what tools I needed! I had project managed multi-billion projects before, but I knew that running a small business was completely different. The Women’s Business School didn’t just give me the tools I needed, but also the emotional support needed to run my own business. The thing that really set WBS apart from other startup schools was the acknowledgment that women do approach business differently, and that was OK. You could still be successful and not the ‘typical’ successful entrepreneur.
Why did you choose to do the Women’s Business School Programs?
The structure of the course was very helpful, especially as I pivoted my way through 2020! It made sure I was looking at the right things in the business, and kept me accountable. Also the amazing network of women I’ve met, either part of my cohort or tutor and mentors has been transformational for me. I feel seen, understood and supported.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the program?
I really enjoyed connecting with likeminded women. Hearing their stories, both the triumphs and the struggles, was really motivating and made me feel less like I was on this journey alone.
What surprised you most about the program?
The focus on the emotional side of starting and running a business! I expected to learn how to manage a business, I didn’t expect to learn how to manage myself! It’s an emotional rollercoster running a startup, and the way the course gets you to recognise this, but also deal with it is incredibly helpful.
Which module was the most helpful and why?
The ‘Sharing Your Story” module. It got you to put down on paper who you were – what was important to you, what kept you up at night, what you were trying to achieve. And then it took you through a process of aligning that with your business. It was less about creating work/life balance, more about creating work/life harmony.
How did the program help you in your business?
If I hadn’t been on the program, I wouldn’t have had the support or tools to dream bigger, pivot the business and navigate a tour company out of Covid. The program gave SheSaw its second life.
What has been the best thing about starting your own business?
I’ve found my purpose! I feel that my interests and passions are now aligned with my work.
Would you recommend the Women’s Business School to other women starting a business? Why?
Yes! The quality of teaching materials is amazing, the mentors and tutors are the best in their field and the community you will become a part of will encourage you to follow your dreams. Visibility is important. Not just for the person whose story is being told, but for the people who hear it – if you can see it, you can be it. As part of the Women’s Business School you will see incredible women, doing incredible things, and know that you can do it too.
What’s happening next in your business?
We are launching on International Women’s Day! To celebrate we are having a month long pop up in World Square Sydney. We’ve got an interactive art exhibit featuring the portraits of 12 women of Sydney whose stories are told via a tour on our app and we’ve got a line up of lunchtime talks by some incredible women, many of whom are graduates of the Women’s Business School!
What are your big plans for the future?
My aim is to have 1 million statues telling women’s stories on the SheSaw platform in the next few years. I also hope to see SheSaw take people on boutique tours overseas when travel resumes so they can see, in person, the world from a woman’s perspective.
Applications for the award-winning Women’s Business School Accelerator program are now open!
Follow the link to apply today: https://womensbusinessschool.lpages.co/wbs/