This month our focus is networking and partnerships, in particular, breaking out of the normal stereotypes we have for what these two words mean. As a perfect example of this, we wanted to showcase one of our incredible members. She has built her entire business around the powerful change you can make if you leverage a strong network ??♀. She started from the bottom and now she’s here.
Veronica Mantiziba, founder and CEO of Avey Technologies, wanted to economically uplift and improve the livelihoods of workers in the beauty industry by connecting them to wider markets for increased earning potential. She has built a platform connecting women working in the beauty industry with clients wanting more convenient and at-home beauty services.
The concept is simple, but the effects are HUGE. Veronica started her journey through our Business School program, sponsored by our partner UK-SA Tech Hub, back in 2019. She finessed her idea, tested the market, and by the end of the program, was ready to go! Lucky for us, she was not ready for her journey with Future Females to end, and she joined the Future Females Co-working Space, in fact, she was our very first member!
Veronica’s ‘WHY’ is all about using connection and network to create positive impact. But not only this, Veronica has surrounded herself with a strong network of supporters and advocates for her business. She knows that whenever she might need advice or suggestions, she only needs to look around the fellow female entrepreneurs sitting alongside her! As the African proverb goes, “if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together” ??♀ and this is the true power of a good network.
But how did she do it? Two our of Future Females team, Joosje and Monica, sat down with Veronica this week to ask her about the growth of her journey and how she leveraged her growing network…
Q1. How did the idea of opening up a beauty tech company come to be?
Well, I was studying in Melbourne, Australia and living there made me realize how almost impossible to find a salon that would cater to my ethnic hair. I bought products online, as there was not much variety in my area. Ever since high school, I have always taken care of my hair. Actually, I wasn’t an expert, but people loved it and assumed I was a professional. Then I started doing other people’s hair too, not just my own, and soon word spread. Mostly, I’d do braids, cornrows, weaves, straightening and relaxing. I’d do house visits around campus, do students’ hair and make them feel beautiful. It became my part-time job and started paying my bills.
“In my first year of college, a lot of students had a part-time job. I didn’t have a part-time job as this was my part-time job, and it was paying my bills really well.”
When I got back to South Africa, I started working in a corporate place, which was very demanding so I didn’t have the time to go to salons to get my hair & nails done.
“It was a pain point for myself, and for other women.”
A couple of years later, it was still a pain point for me that I didn’t have enough time to go to the salon. So I wrote an idea on paper, and the idea was to develop a service where beauty professionals bring in-home beauty services to consumers.
“Maybe I could just create a website and get the word out there?”, I’d say to myself. I was looking for a way to link the beauty professionals with consumers. But when Uber came out with their service concept of connecting drivers with riders, then suddenly things changed for me. I thought: “Wait, I don’t have to do phone calls, emails and have a call center… I could just develop a platform for someone to request beauty services straight to their door.”
Q2. How did you bring your business idea into reality?
I was scrolling through my news feed on Instagram when I came across a picture of intriguing women wearing t-shirts labelled ‘Future Females’. They all looked empowered and a fun bunch of people so I decided to follow their Instagram page. From there, everything began. I started attending their monthly events where I’d connect, learn and get inspiration from like-minded entrepreneurs and experts. I am also part of the Founders Club and I always look forward to their weekly learnings.
“If I had enough business understanding, I would have started my business already.”
So here I was with my business idea on paper, fortunately at the time, Future Females announced the opening of the 3rd cohort of their Business School. I was part of the community now, therefore I knew Future Females would help me turn my business idea into reality. Future Females Business school offered me key resources that pushed me to start my business by giving me the clarity, vision and ability to focus and execute my strategy that helped me build this business and which direction to take action in.
Q3. What tools would you recommend to grow your business and network?
We used Facebook to reach out to independent beauty professionals to partner with Avey to get clients for their services as well as to bring awareness to my brand. Facebook has been a great platform to connect with our clients, engage with them and keep them up to date with all our latest services.
We ran Ads both on Facebook and Google Ads which also helped in increasing brand awareness. Another way Avey acquired beauty tech professionals was through job application platforms. We had job posting ads running on different websites, including Facebook. Facebook turned out to be the most effective. It’s such a good platform for growing and connecting your network.
Q4. Do you have any partners and are you part of any network communities?
My husband has been such a great support system for me. I hope this counts but I see him as my unofficial co-founder. He has been a pillar in building the foundation of my business and I love the fact that he always has a solution to every problem.
“When I’d have a mental block and didn’t know how to proceed, he always helps with getting me past that block.”
The Future Females Co-Working Space has absolutely been a supportive and uplifting community for me personally and for my business. It has been, and still is, an inspiring space to connect and interact with other women personally. This has helped my network grow because word of mouth is quickly trusted. I think that’s why I got my first clients from this community – we dedicated a day for beauty professionals to come into the office and pamper some wonderful ladies who work in the co-working space.
I also keep in touch with the FFBS graduate students from my cohort, we have a WhatsApp group and some of the women live in my area. I have met up for coffee multiple times with some of the women, we have developed personal relationships. I am so glad that we talk about everything – business and family-related. I always look forward to these meetups because everyone gets an opportunity to share the wins and challenges they face running their businesses.
Q5. Lastly, are you happy with the progress Avey has taken?
Yes, I am happy. I wanted to launch Avey in 2019 but had a minor hiccup. I made sure that 2020 will be my comeback year as I had to think differently and set goals that aligned with what I want to achieve. – It’s just the second month of the year but look where we are now!
You want to hear a funny story? I attended the Future Females Cape Town January event and one of the speakers spoke about ‘7 ways to look at a problem’. An that made me realize that I have been looking at my challenges as this problem that can not be resolved instead of looking at them as a milestone that I know I am going to get through, because at the end of the day. Because, you will mark that ‘problem’ as an accomplishment on your bench mark sheet.
“Through talking to people and networking, you realize that some challenges you have aren’t real challenges… You just have to look at them differently.”
For me, what’s really important part is the mindset. The best thing to do is to invert the negative thoughts and negative mindset into the positive. When you can look at your problems as milestones, they will be easier to resolve. It’s all about believing in yourself and all that you are.
It has been so exciting to watch Veronica’s journey, and see her business making great progress. She has become a real businesswoman and we love the fact that Future Females could help in turning her idea into reality. Thank you, Veronica for sharing your inspiring story. You started from the bottom but now you are here, a real rising star!