Early on in my corporate legal career I discovered a problem that I couldn’t undiscover. The universal, significant and persisting problem of gender inequality in business, leadership and entrepreneurship. And it’s like when someone tells you that stripes are in fashion. Before you knew, you didn’t notice a single person wearing stripes. And since they told you all you can see are people wearing stripes. And you wonder how you missed it before. I could see gender gaps in business everywhere I looked.
The World Economic Forum estimates that it could take well over two centuries to fully close the gender gap. I became determined to change the numbers and close the gender gap in my lifetime!
So I started running networking events. Bringing women together with interesting speakers, to create a platform for women to connect, learn, speak authentically and feel inspired. This was my foray into the entrepreneurial world. It made no money and was more of a passion project than anything else but it was a start.
I then started leveraging from these events to run focus groups asking female entrepreneurs what they felt are the barriers they face to succeeding in business. I heard the same answers over and over again; lack of confidence, fear of failure, access to funding, access to professional networks and mentors and a lack of appropriate child care options. Garnering these insights I came up with an idea. I was going to create a physical hub providing everything women need to succeed in business all under one roof.
One Roof began as a test. A pop up co-working space in an Airbnb mansion in St Kilda. It was called One Roof to embody the idea of creating a physical hub providing everything a female entrepreneur needs to succeed in business all under one roof. When 400 people came through the doors in just one week (unbeknownst to the landlord!) it was clear there was a need for a female focused co-working space.
After testing the idea in different markets including Melbourne, Sydney, LA and NYC I settled in on a great opportunity in City Road, Southbank thanks to our landlords Central Equity. It has been two and half years and in a short period of time, with no funding but an incredible amount of passion and drive, we have become well recognised as Australia’s leading co-working space dedicated to women-led businesses. We have tapped into two fast growing industries. The growth of co-working which has grown by 300% in Australia since 2013 and the rise of women starting businesses. While there is a growing trend globally in terms of co-working for women, we are the only significant co-working space in this country that specifically supports women-led businesses.
We are currently home to 85 women-led businesses (businesses with a female founder, cofounder, CEO or business that subscribe to our ethos in a very clear way) ranging in size, stage and industry. We have a large event space hosting on average four events each week and we see around 200 people in and out of the space from Monday to Friday every week. It is a buzz of activity! Much more than just being a co-working space, One Roof exists to foster the best environment for women-led businesses to succeed. And we know businesses and start-ups require more than a desk and chair. From the moment you become a member with One Roof our team carefully takes the time to understand your needs, challenges, ideal clients and industry. We curate connections, design workshops, host networking events and ensure we are providing support at every stage of your business and entrepreneurial journey. Coffee on us, yoga, meditation, wine down, movie nights, fundraisers, pitch nights and female founder dinners, we literally aim to provide everything under One Roof. And we are customer centric so we co-design all our programs with our members. That is crucial to our success.
My vision is to create at least 5 co-working hubs dedicated to women-led businesses around Australia in the next 5 years.
I Imagine every space will have a business lounge, a café operator, hot desks, private offices, meeting rooms, break out areas, a wellness space, event space, phone booths, beautiful open kitchens, a kids room, showers, lockers, bike racks. Members will have access to nannying services and on-site kids holiday programs. Members will have passport access to any of the co-working spaces around Australia. Each of our hubs will run their own accelerator program and we will have an investment fund that specifically works on investment in women-led startups.
One Roof is on a mission to be the driving force that makes Australia the best place in the world to be a female entrepreneur. We would love to meet you and hope you will come along the journey with us.
Founder One Roof