From finding the right mentor to staying resilient, China Soribe discusses what she learned about entrepreneurship during her time at Wayflyer and starting her own business.
China Soribe is operations manager at Wayflyer, Ireland’s newest tech unicorn that gives e-commerce businesses the insights and funds they need for growth. She is also an e-commerce entrepreneur herself as the co-founder and CEO of Umoja Linn, an online marketplace for Afrocentric fashion brands.
Soribe will mentor the Techstars Startup Weekend Women Dublin, an online event taking place this weekend to help women turn startup ideas into reality. Over three days, participants work together and hear from mentors, investors and sponsors, including Wayflyer.
‘My advice for entrepreneurs is to find a committed mentor who will guide and challenge you’
– CHINA SORIBE
What experience do you have with start-ups or entrepreneurship?
I’ve been fortunate enough not only to get hands-on experience starting and building a business with Umoja Linn, but also to work with a second start-up, Wayflyer.
My role at Umoja Linn is quite extensive. My responsibilities include monitoring the market landscape and developments, strategic planning and implementation to achieve both short and long term goals, and ensuring the company stays true to its vision and mission as we grow.
I initially joined Wayflyer as an investment risk analyst and progressed to my current role as operations manager. As a risk analyst, I researched e-commerce companies seeking financing and decided whether or not to provide financing based on the level of risk. This included assessing the companies’ online presence, their management accounts, and speaking with the founders and chief officers.
In my current role as an operations manager, I am part of a great team that owns the process and operational strategy around Wayflyer’s core product.
What areas of science and technology do you think offer the most opportunities?
At the top of my list has to be the life sciences industry in Ireland. As a biomedical engineering student in Galway, I became very aware of the strong and ever-growing presence of major companies such as Pfizer, Allergan, Medtronic and many more. As sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics grow, Ireland is fast becoming a major player in this field and is already one of the largest exporters of pharmaceuticals worldwide.
It would be a crime not to mention the remarkable opportunities in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
What are the qualities of a good founder? Are good entrepreneurs born or can they be made?
Ambition, confidence, positivity and resilience are essential qualities for a good founder.
To dream big and continuously work on new goals and scale, you need ambition and drive. Confidence and belief in your vision are also must-haves. A founder must be confident and infectiously positive to sell her or his vision to potential teammates and stakeholders. Most importantly, the resilience to pass unavoidable failures and learn from mistakes.
I believe that good entrepreneurs can be made because they can develop the above qualities through certain life experiences.
What should a successful entrepreneur do every day? Which tools and resources are a must?
A successful entrepreneur should have a checklist to help organize and maintain focus. As you become more successful, you will notice more distractions popping up. I find that writing to-do lists helps prioritize and make sure you’re focused on the main goal — and not distracted by tasks that can be avoided or assigned to other teammates.
You also need to maintain a strong network of support and mentors that you listen to, receive reliable feedback and learn from.
What is the critical ingredient for a startup’s success?
I believe that a clear vision, a strong, versatile team, a quality product or service that solves a problem, and timing are crucial ingredients for the success of a startup.
How can founders put together a good team?
Assembling a great team is critical to the success of a startup and should never be compromised. The best way to build a team of like-minded members is to actively expand your network, talk passionately about your goals and win the right people over with your love and belief in the vision.
What advice do you have for founders looking to invest?
Talk to your network, get advice and attend events. Also, be sure to research your options, weighing the pros and cons for each type of investment. Whether it’s equity financing from angel investors or income-based financing from Wayflyer.
Wayflyer’s head of finance, Mark Corballis, offers valuable advice on the dos and don’ts of equity finance in this article.
What are the biggest mistakes founders make?
Trying to accomplish too much at once and end up accomplishing nothing due to split focus.
What are your views on mentorship and the qualities to look for in a mentor?
The right mentor is invaluable and accelerator of one’s success. This is why I absolutely love the mentorship opportunity offered at the Techstars Startup Weekend Women Dublin hosted by YourY Network.
When looking for a mentor, you should look for someone who will hold you accountable, have the time to commit to your mentorship, and have relevant experience from which to learn.
What is the most important advice you have for entrepreneurs?
My advice for entrepreneurs is to find a committed mentor who will guide and challenge you, as well as keep the focus on the vision and stay resilient when faced with failure.
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