Doone Roisin: Hyping Female Startups
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This is “Procrastineur”, a newsletter sharing the stories of people building cool things.
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It’s Thursday, August 26, 2021, and this week’s founder is Doone Roisin:
From the Bush to the City
Doone didn’t have what you might call a “typical” childhood. Her early years were spent on the side of a mountain in the Australian Outback. Things like electricity and TV weren’t present (and they had a drop toilet!). Doone and her mother lived off the land. She was the only person in her grade in school for two years. It was different, and it was tough at times, but it was a good life.
After a few years, Doone’s mom decided to move them from their community of 90 people to a small town.
Things changed dramatically, though, when Doone’s paternal grandparents decided to send her to boarding school.
In Grade 10, Doone started at a private, all-girls school. After spending most of her life to that point in a co-ed school from a small town, the shift could have been difficult. Doone loved it.
Collegiate Dropout and Overachiever?
After graduation, she spent about a month at university before realizing it wasn’t for her and dropping out.
She enrolled in a course for visual communications, learning Photoshop and other Adobe tools, along with photography and some web design. Doone wanted to work in fashion, so she got a few different internships.
Now, you might think that means she applied for listed jobs and was selected. You know, normal stuff.
You’d be wrong.
Doone created positions for herself by thinking outside the box. She wanted to work for a fashion magazine, but there weren’t any in Brisbane at the time. So she went to a local nursery, picked out a pretty plant and a cute pot, and put her business card in it. She dressed up as a delivery person and delivered it straight to the manager she wanted to work for. Long story short, she got a job that didn’t exist. Doone worked there for about 12 weeks, learning about layout and design.
There were other examples too - one of which involved Doone plastering a creative display on a company’s windows telling them to check out her website. She got that job too, of course.
After a spattering of internships, Doone went big by applying for The Iconic, now one of Australia’s best-known fashion brands. She got a part-time job there, made herself invaluable to the company, and became the brand manager for their social media pages.
Doone learned so much there. It was scrappy, fun, fail-quick startup life. Doone loved it. She knew that she wanted to build her own thing one day.
In 2015, Doone moved to London. She worked for a handful of bigger companies for a while - IMG and Finder.com, for example - then met the man who is now her husband and jumped into the startup life.
Startup Life Takes Hold
They were on a team of 10 people building a product in the tech space, and Doone provided creative know-how to get things up and running.
After that, Doone dove fully in. She created a sparkling jewelry brand, diving into eCommerce. That work took her all over the world to China, Indonesia, Paris Fashion Week, and more. It wasn’t the right long-term product for her, but it was a great learning experience.
Then one day, while chatting with some friends of hers, they started discussing Tim Ferriss’s “Tools of Titans”, a book profiling billionaires and other highly successful people, and what they use to make them the most productive people on the planet. Doone noted another thing, however - the book was mostly focused on men.
Female Startup Club
Doone wanted to find more stories and advice from women. When she looked though, she found that many sources of advice were less about the daily work and the tools, how they found success, and more “fluff”, to say it inelegantly.
FemaleStartupClub was born thanks to two things - Doone already owned the URL (and another 20+ with “startupclub” in the name), and to highlight female builders on a deeper level than was currently being done.
In January 2020, Doone set a goal to interview 100 people over the course of the year. By March, she had completed four. When Covid hit, things got real. Doone knew she had to get serious, so she started compiling an Excel list of all the founders she wanted to interview. She wrote her pitch, found their emails, and got to work.
At the same time, Doone was looking for sponsors. Timing is perfect sometimes, and when she messaged a company through their online contact form, they responded within a few hours and wanted to set up a call. A few conversations and a year-long partnership later, Doone had the accountability behind her to keep her working. She reached episode 100 on December 29, 2020.
Fast forward to today, and Doone has done 200 episodes in just over 12 months. FemaleStartupClub is a top 50 podcast for Entrepreneurship. They have a private network. There’s a book set for release in October. They have a private community for female eCommerce founders.
These days, Doone’s favorite thing to do is get on a call and dive into the grit and grind, learning from all of the founders she has the opportunity to chat with.
People talk about “hockey stick” growth, where companies take off overnight. That hasn’t been her experience. Approach every day with the goal to improve just 1%. It pays off!
When you start something, give yourself a timeline of 4-6 months to see if you’ll stick with it. It’s ok to stop, but don’t quit the first time it’s difficult!
Remember that “done” is better than “perfect”. You don’t have to have top-tier expertise to be successful.
You can connect with Doone on Twitter as @dooneroisin. FemaleStartupClub is available on your favorite podcast app, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Word from Will
I got more out of this conversation than Doone will ever know (so if you’re reading this, thank you!!). She’s worked her way from the backwoods to a top 50 podcast, learning everything she needed to know to run a successful business along the way. She took chances that would have scared me half to death.
Thinking about that made me realize that it’s not always about sticking to the path. Our general discourse focuses on “do this, then learn that, then …” but we forget that sometimes taking Robert Frost’s “path less traveled” means doing things outside the box.
You might also be interested in an upcoming release from Doone that isn’t podcast related. She and her husband, Pierre-Antoine, along with a French sommelier, are releasing a non-alcoholic wine.
Let me know what you think of Doone’s story by responding to this email!
Thank you for the very kind write up, Will. I really enjoyed reading it back! Looking forward to watching you grow your newsletter!