can.did. hasn’t just popped up out of nowhere…
It was born out of four years of in-depth
research conversations with 250+ credible business owners dotted all over the UK, not to mention the banks and businesses geared up to support them.
(and we don’t mean via a quick DM or emailed Q+A either. We mean real, face-to-face conversations where we delve into all the nitty gritty details, usually over a giant cup of coffee or two!)
What started as a project to debunk the #girlboss myth and provide more honesty across the business landscape, very quickly evolved into a business on a much chunkier mission…
Let’s fill you in…
Fi left the corporate world to set up She can. She did. from her kitchen table. Kicking off the first of many interviews in a converted horse truck-turned prosecco van at an event in Milton Keynes a few weeks later, the original weekly written interviews were born…
After learning that the two main challenges holding women back from launching a business were a lack of role models their age to aspire to and a lack of un-intimidating networking opportunities, tickets for the first She can. She did. – Midweek Mingle go on sale and sell out in 48 hours. Celebratory gin was consumed.
Having noticed recurring challenges crop up in pretty much every interview – that echoed Fi’s own experiences as a self-employed woman who’d walked away from a corporate career to go solo – the idea for the She can. She did. Benefits Platform was born…
On her 26th birthday, Fi pitches the idea for the Benefits Programme to a VC fund for the first time (the day after the 3rd ever Midweek Mingle FYI). They said: “great idea but you need to get it off the ground first if we’re to invest!” The chicken vs egg scenario with investment begins.
Fi receives an offer to invest in the Benefits Platform for self-employed womxn but said investor wants 40% of the business so she walks away. Tears were shed – we won’t lie – but it made her more determined to find a way to launch it.
Determined to prove that you don’t have to live in a big city to launch a successful business, after three sold-out London events, we announced our first sponsor, Xero, that allowed later Mingles to take place across the UK. We hit Bristol, Manchester and Brighton in Fi’s rusty old Corsa (RIP) and the quarterly roadshows were born.
Having felt left out when she no longer had an office Christmas party to go to the previous year, Fi launches The Midweek Jingle in London to give female founders the end of year party they deserve! The She can. She did. version of Twelve Days of Christmas was born too..!
After 18 months of transcribing the weekly interviews and multiple requests to move over to the podcast world, the first episode of the She can. She did. podcast was recorded! It landed at #8 in the Business Podcast charts, climbing to #5 shortly after. *cue the celebrations*
Fi is asked to host an event for Swarovski interviewing women she’s grown up admiring. She spends five minutes in the ladies before the event starts standing like superwoman in the mirror à la Amy Cuddy in an attempt to battle off a whole lot of imposter syndrome. We’re not kidding. Speaking invitations with the likes of Dior, Burt’s Bees and Planet Organic follow.
After 20 Midweek Mingles in 7 cities around the UK, Covid brings the roadshows to an abrupt halt. Determined to cut through the noise and panic online, Fi launches the We can. We will. daily bonus series to encourage founders to dig deep and persevere. With zero marketing spend, it goes on to spend a week trending in the UK’s top business podcasts.
After no longer being in a position to invest because of Covid, a potential investor encourages Fi to start small and get the Benefits Programme off the ground in any way that she can. Enlisting the help of Jess, Nat, Maddy and Steph, work starts immediately to bring the She can. She did. Benefits Platform to life without investment.
After five months of endless Zoom meetings, Whatsapps, tech issues and headaches, we finally built the first-of-its-kind Benefits Programme curated for all female business owners in the UK on a very tight budget. We won’t lie, it crashed A LOT… But *touch wood* it’s still standing.
When the UK goes back into lockdown, Fi hops on a call with the CEO at Vala Health and secures free Vala health cover to protect all women signed up to the Benefits Programme. Not only does it mean that all members and their loved ones have instant access to health professionals, they no longer have to worry about waiting times, leaving the house etc… A few months later this became a permanent benefit.
After the whirlwind that was 2020, Fi jumps on a Zoom call with the team and voices her concern that the name ‘She can. She did.’ no longer feels like the right fit. Whilst speaking about the need for more honesty in the business landscape, Nat pipes up with “it’s almost like you just need to drop the ‘she’ and call yourself can.did.” We all went silent. Decision made.
After 6 months of observing the Benefits Programme up and running and listening to the feedback from both customers and our target non-customers alike (namely, that they want to meet one another!) Fi updates the She can. She did. audience that she’s tweaking away behind the scenes.
Fi decides that if she’s going to introduce a digital networking arm to the business, it had to echo everything that She can. She did. has stood for since day one. Transparency to cut through the ‘overnight success’ noise, genuine connection to create long-lasting connections and tangible substance to ensure that we’re supported for the long-haul. Enter can.did. – a new kind of networking for more candid conversations.