Female Founder Shares Tips For Nurturing A Fast-Growth Business
Written by: Joy Burnford
London born and bred Riya Grover, 30, has turned her passion for health and nutrition into a fast-growing business, disrupting the way food is prepared, delivered and consumed in the 21st century. In just three years Riya has launched her software platform, Feedr, in more than 500 companies, including PwC, AirBNB, Etsy, DHL and Uber. Heading up a team of 20, Riya shares her top tips on what has inspired her to succeed.
With degrees from Oxford, Yale, and Harvard Business School and time working at Deutsche Bank, Riya shines with easy charm and quiet self-assurance. Entrepreneurship is “in her DNA”, fostered at the dinner table and from her parents’ example. “From an early age, entrepreneurship felt like a very natural progression and something that I quickly became passionate about.”
The seed for Riya’s business was her passion for health and nutrition, born out of her Indian heritage and its development challenges, and a desire to build more sustainable, transparent and personalised food systems. “Eating healthy food should be a right, not something that is optional.” Her idea was to link up amazing, innovative food vendors, who were preparing high-quality food using quality ingredients, with people in their workplace, using technology to personalise their experience in the best way possible. This is just the start: they have bold plans for integrating healthier, more affordable eating into daily life.
In the game of entrepreneurship Riya reveals a strong hand. Here she shares five top tips to those who want to follow in her footsteps.
- Be Inspired By Role Models
Role models that inspired Riya at the beginning of her journey included Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, Founders of Rent the Runway, Alexa Hirschfeld, Co-founder of Paperless Post and Leila Zegna and Tracy Doree, Co-founders of Kindred Capital. These were women who broke barriers and took a forward-thinking approach to disrupting the industries they were operating in. Starting a business requires resilience and persistence and an ability to hustle. Riya fell in love with a problem, created a solution and knocked down hurdles as they appeared. “These women taught me not to be afraid of failure and to suck up all advice like a sponge. Test, learn and fail!
2. Recruit Best-In-Class People To Build A World-Class Venture
“One thing that Harvard taught me was that you don’t have to be excellent at everything; you just have to assemble a group of really smart people.” Seeking out talent early on and bringing on best-in-class people right from the beginning enabled Riya to build a world-class venture. Finding the best when you don’t necessarily have the money to invest at the outset is a challenge but let people see your vision, consider offering equity and stretch yourself as much as you can and it will reap rewards in the future. And make sure once you have ambitious people on your team, you know how to keep them motivated.
3. Build A Strong Support Network
With a young child to take care of as well as her company, Riya has built herself “a great ecosystem” of support, both personal and professional: her husband and family and a wider network of like-minded people with shared experiences. She is also careful to hire people who share her output-driven mindset. “It is great to have a community and develop friendships of people who can support you. I know so many working mums who do manage it, you just need to structure your week and allow for flexible working. To say it is not possible to do both is, I think, a total fallacy.”
4. Be Prepared to Adapt Your Business Concept
“You may not end up solving the problem you first envisaged. Through getting to know your customer and the market, you discover new needs and opportunities. Embrace this journey: many thriving businesses, such as Go Cardless and Slack, set out to tackle one problem and then discovered an even greater one or a nuance of their original concept. “It’s a balance, keeping an open mindset whilst also staying focused. Knowing the right distractions from the wrong ones are often easier to see in hindsight.”
5. Embrace Being A Mum
“I used to downplay the family angle and that I was a mother. Now I see that my early instinct to hush it down actually made me less credible; it is totally the wrong approach. As the business has grown I’ve tried to embrace it. I think it’s made me a much more compassionate leader and, I hope, more relatable. It’s given me maturity and a different perspective on how to build up a high-performing team.”
After all, “Great oaks from little acorns grow.”