A New Networking Platform for Women Entrepreneurs is Redefining Co-Working Spaces
A new company is unveiling its network & platform for female entrepreneurs in co-working spaces. Quilt, which officially launched yesterday, is an online platform that empowers female freelancers and entrepreneurs to open their homes to other women for co-working and evening gatherings, and get paid for it.
Through the Quilt website, users are able to utilize their homes (as host or guests) as community workspace to foster a community and collaborative environment.
Next week begins a week-long activation starting on July 25th out of the Merchant House in Venice, CA, in which 250 hand- picked female entrepreneurs are invited to come through the doors. Programming includes all day co-working, dinners, evening experiences with local female focused communities and an all-day celebration on the 29th including a talk series, creative sessions, live music and BBQ.
After 2 years running a female centric co-working business, the founders Gianna Wurzl and Ashley Sumner have decided to build a more impactful model. They highlighted that over 64% of co-working members are men, which has led to more competitive working environments and lack of comfort and safety, which are only some of the reasons why women were not benefiting from the traditional co-working model.
Here, the Founders, Gianna Wurzl & Ashley Sumner speak to V+T about their aha moment, the process of building a company and why it’s important to have fun while doing it!
You both have vastly different backgrounds. How do your respective skill sets complement each other as partners?
We both care deeply about building a brand that is impactful as well as profitable. We’ve separately spent a portion of our careers building community and came together because we both had a strong desire to build technology that could facilitate more offline connections. Gianna’s background in digital strategy allows her to take a big idea, and distill it down in steps – or as she constantly would ask me “what’s the post-it note version of the idea you have?” My background as a matchmaker and community developer has inspired me to build an offering that supports human behavior and makes life better. Together, Quilt was born, as a true marriage of our individual’s passions and skill sets.
What motivated you and inspired you to start the concept of Quilt? What and when was your aha moment?
Gianna was born with the desire to help women… and it dawned on her a few years back that helping looked more like re-imagining the way women work. She started by building One Roof, operating co-working spaces out of residential properties for women. When we met, I was building large communities, such as NeueHouse and Wanderlust, and we came together knowing that it was time to figure out a technology compliment to One Roof. The Aha moment was when we realized that One Roof business model wasn’t going to be profitable or all that scale-able. Quilt was born out of true necessity to bring community to women all around the country, not just in Venice, CA.
What were your initial steps during the startup that took this from conception to commercialization?
Gianna and I locked ourselves in her apartment from 7AM onwards and made it through thousands of post-its. A couple months later, with many deck iterations and a naming party with our rad community and Quilt as you know it today was born.
In one word- how would you describe the journey of building your business?
What has been the most effective way to raising awareness for Quilt and attracting interest?
Test and learn and test and learn. Collectively we’ve hosted over 300 intimate gatherings and listened to the community as it grew. Quilt is theirs.
How were you able to find funding for your business?
Gianna and I are fortunate enough to have been building our professional contacts for many years. It started with a lot of emails out into the world. It was a very vulnerable experience to reach out but we both learned a lot. We showed up to each meeting over-prepared and ready to do what was necessary to bring our baby to life. Our adrenal glands are still recovering from the amount of coffee meetings that took place but we held out to find the perfect group of investors, or as we call them, our constellation of supporters and we are very grateful for them all.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in building Quilt?
The need to get your idea out in the world and start testing it, ultimately has to override the desire to be perfect. Also, patience… because everything just takes longer than you could ever imagine it would.
What were the biggest hurdles that you faced? What helped you overcome those hurdles?
We both believe that we are meant to do what we’re doing. Our passion has carried us through many of our hurdles. We’ve seen each hurdle, such as getting feedback from investors who don’t believe community for women is necessary, as an opportunity to learn. Having each other is the singular most important thing that has helped us through the most trying times in this process.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
It’s important to seek support from your community. Know who they are, and how you show up for one another. You’re not meant to do this alone. Be firm in your beliefs, take feedback you trust, then make your decision and silence the noise.
If you could time travel back to day one of your startup and have 15min with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired with the intention of saving yourself mistakes and heartache, what would you tell yourself?
It is a gift to be able to create something new for the world. Neither of us are good at accepting praise or taking credit for the work we do. It’s hard work and if you commit to doing it, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have. It’s ok to have fun while doing it.
As you’re going through your official launch, what would you like to see happen with Quilt in the coming months? What are your goals?
Our goal with our soft launch is to refine the tech and experience so that we can bring this offering to many other women in many other cities. Ultimately connecting women around the world to one another so that they can learn together. At our core, women thrive off of support and collaboration. This was built to help women succeed in the ways they want to most.
Why do you think Quilt is going to revolutionize the way women entrepreneurs work?
Quit is an offering that was directly for female entrepreneurs and freelancers– our schedules, needs and desires change daily – Quilt is there to support you where and when you need it most. Co-working spaces are 70% male… women are at home alone working or in a coffee shop. Now we don’t have to be.
The theme for next week is “Reimagining the way women…” looking at new ways to approach everything from leadership, investing and wellness. Talk about the significance of that theme?
The time for women to lead is NOW. Over the years there have been many pockets of female leaders that have emerged having something big to say. Coming together, we can have an even louder voice. When we say “re-imagine the way women do…” we’re saying that it is natural for women to lead through collaboration, kindness, listening and intuition. With these traits, we believe there are many solutions to the problems we currently face and we’re looking forward to listening to the women who are leading the charge.
The Company is now official! Please visit them at www.WeQuilt.com.