Young Innovators Success Stories: Jasmine Douglas, Babes on Waves, London
Diverse female founders join innovative community
For Jasmine Douglas, Founder of online community Babes on Waves (BOW), the Young Innovators programme has provided an invaluable network.
When she secured the award from Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust, the project was in its infancy with her nascent website offering only a basic membership package.
“Everything was very DIY as I was still getting to grips with running a business as well as setting up and getting to know the various platforms used across the company,” Jasmine says.
Now, Jasmine’s ambition to establish an innovative platform for diverse female founders and aspiring entrepreneurs is coming to fruition with more than 100 members on board.
As a British/American woman with Nigerian heritage, Jasmine’s vision is to create a space for women of colour to champion underrepresented founders. Through providing networking, resources, and events, Jasmine’s aim is to support personal and business growth for community members.
She describes designing and developing the website as the ‘biggest but most rewarding’ challenge and a vital moment in being able to offer a more holistic package on par to similar, more well-known platforms.
“Hitting 100 members was the next major milestone, not only because it made me realise that I would actually be able to make money from the business, but also because, as the community grows, so do its benefits,” Jasmine says.
“A big part of Babes on Waves is the togetherness and ability for members to reach out to each other, and the more happy members we have, the more they will spread the word amongst friends or colleagues outside Babes on Waves.”
The business is now garnering the attention of established corporates seeking partnership opportunities and Jasmine’s focus is on growing membership to over 200.
She is also hoping to create a series of short courses to those outside the community – both to boost revenue and also to attract more members.
“Lastly, securing more funding will help tremendously with our growth – I have already applied for the Innovate UK Women in Innovation Programme and will be looking for and applying to others in the process,” she says.
To support these plans, Jasmine has grown the Babes on Waves team.
“The team has grown from just myself to having part-time community managers, and an assistant and membership manager, which has meant I’m able to take on more myself to further the business whilst staying on top of everything,” Jasmine says.
“Having a bigger team has directly improved member satisfaction as there are now more points of contact within the group, with someone being able to respond to any questions or queries frequently.”
Over the coming months the team will launch a new tech platform, additional membership tiers, and continue to sell the Babes on Waves merchandise.
Since joining the Young Innovators programme, Jasmine’s mindset has shifted and instead of rushing to calculate growth measures, she now comfortably acknowledges that it can take time to see the rewards.
“Whenever I set goals I gave myself too short a timeline to achieve them which often led to frustration,” she says.
“Since then, I’ve learnt that progress is not always linear, very often I’ll take two steps back after taking one forward or vice versa. Sometimes progress can be so gradual that you don’t notice it but looking back after significant time has passed, you realise that plenty has actually been happening, so I just keep reminding myself to trust the process and not rush anything!”
Alongside the networking and connection opportunities, winning the award also enabled her to invest in technology that led the business to be able to offer international membership.
She adds, “It’s also great to have help with living expenses as this is often a massive source of stress and financial pressure for anyone, not just entrepreneurs.”
Working with her Innovation Champion from Innovate UK EDGE and being introduced to expert advisors via Innovate UK and KTN, also pushed Jasmine’s business forward.
Jasmine says, “I really benefited from Innovate UK’s network – I had an informative session with a pricing expert who helped me with defining my membership’s value.
“It can get really expensive finding these sorts of advisors, as they need to understand you and your business on a personal level, but since they were recommended by Innovate UK you can be confident you’ll receive the help that you need – and free of charge!”
For Jasmine, her personal growth is continuing on a fast-tracked protectory alongside that of Babes on Waves.
I have acknowledged that I’m still learning and will continue to throughout this journey, but my confidence and faith in myself and my abilities is growing.
“I’m able to set ambitious targets whilst understanding what’s realistic for where I am at the moment. Numbers and statistics are an important metric for gauging progress, however I’m understanding that ‘success’ – especially for a business centred around community – can’t always be measured in this way.”
She concludes, “I’m proud of the progress I’ve made, and am excited about where my business and I will end up in the future.”
Join us and become part of the Young Innovators community. Find out more about the programme here.
Read the other Young Innovators’ success stories here.
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