Every once in awhile I come across a company, person or some kind of initiative that makes me stop and say, YES. This, is one of those times.
LORI.biz is a think tank for female entrepreneurship, based out of Montreal. The “biz” is all about raising the bar for female entrepreneurs, with an aim to get more women to consider the path of entrepreneurship, and consequently, to help guide them to success.
With a large network of business contacts, content-rich media output and high-visibility events, LORI.biz unites aspiring and young entrepreneurs with influential leaders, to both inspire and help lead the way to success with real, critical and relevant information.
LORI.biz has but one mission: to empower female entrepreneurs.
And to tie it all together, they’ve recently launched LORI hub: the first Canadian co-working space entirely dedicated to the the female entrepreneur. The space is clean, cool and beaming with good vibes.
When I found out that Co-Founder Arielle Beaudin eats chocolate first thing when she wakes up, I just knew I had to interview her. Read on for more details about her amazing venture, why she does it and how you can get involved.
I discovered your company around the time you were launching your crowdfunding campaign for LORI hub, and I’ve been impressed with your work ever since. Can you tell us a little about your background and what you were up to before LORI.biz?
Well I did my bachelors degree in Economics and Politics and a Certificate in Public Relations. After that, I had a job working with Startup Fest, where I was immersed in the whole entrepreneurial world and met a lot of entrepreneurs and investors – and where I also learned that entrepreneurship was more accessible than I thought. At the time, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life as a career – and that’s when a light came on. It’s also where I met Stéphane, Co-Founder of LORI.biz. At the time, he was blogging about female entrepreneurs; we met several times and had great discussions. At first, the project was meant to be some kind of social network for women in business, but then it really evolved into something else. We held our first event March of 2014, and kicked it off with our own website. Our first event was small, maybe only 50 people; it was an entrepreneurial event about being audacious. We always feature both a young and more experienced entrepreneur, so that we can create a connection between the two. Our mission is really to help female entrepreneurs and to support them; we want more women to consider entrepreneurship as a career path. And we want to help them launch with our valuable content, and our events. For example, we held a fashion show last year, which we’ll do again this year. The show presents the clothing of young designers; and to showcase their work, we get well-known entrepreneurs to walk the runway wearing their pieces – this gives the designers a lot of visibility and credibility. And now we just launched LORI hub, which offers community office spaces at the most affordable price of $230/month – there are no hidden fees. This price includes wifi, legal counselling, workshops on different subjects, access to the lounge, and space to host events. When you’re starting a company, office space is very expensive, and you don’t necessarily have that $600/month to spend. When we first launched LORI.biz, we found that having an office gave us credibility and helped take us to the next level. About the hub, we really want to inspire creativity but we also want to help these women with business development. We avoid month to month rentals and instead offer contracts for 6 months to a year, so that the entrepreneurs who rent the space can create fruitful relationships with one another. We’ve also partnered up with CEIM (Centre d’entreprise et d’innovation de Montreal) to create a group called TechnoChic, which helps women entrepreneurs in technology come together to share information, best practices, and to foster cooperation through discussions at monthly meetings.
In your own words what is a “Lady of Real Influence”?
A lady of real influence is someone who is able to assemble people around a vision. When we talk about a career woman or an entrepreneurial woman, this can be either on a big or small scale; what’s most important is that she has a positive impact.
Tell us why you’re so passionate about engaging with the female entrepreneurial community.
That goes back to my background. I had the typical education and was always told that I can be whatever I want to be – the message was always about professional roles like a lawyer, doctor, nurse – but no one ever mentioned being an entrepreneur. I didn’t grow up with entrepreneur examples around me, so I never considered it. It didn’t seem to be an option. But when I was working with Startup Fest, I realized I could take my future into my own hands and create my own opportunity. 1 out of 3 entrepreneurs is a woman in Quebec; there aren’t many of us here. But in order for our economy to grow, we need more women entering the game. We need to tap into this untapped resource. Women are just as able as men to be leaders. It’s just not as accessible. We don’t hear enough about female entrepreneurs, especially young female entrepreneurs.
I’m sure there a lot of women and men reading this who are inspired by what you do. Do you also work with men and if so, how can they get involved?
Well, the Co-Founder of LORI.biz and LORI hub is a man. It’s not only about women, it’s just that there are less female entrepreneurs, and we want to raise awareness around that. Usually our events have a breakdown of 60% women and 40% men, but now it’s evolving towards 50/50. When we have networking events we definitely want to include everyone, and it’s also an opportunity for men to learn about what women are doing. Our mission is to support female entrepreneurs, but we encourage men too.
Can you give us a little insight into what kind of events you host?
So far, we’ve hosted breakfast conferences where we unite experienced and young entrepreneurs; we always choose a theme based on their expertise. We’ve also done a conference on a boat – that was really fun. It was a beautiful boat, which we sailed off with at night. Our speaker was Michelle Blanc, a Web Strategist. We’ve also done fashion shows. Basically, we take an industry and come up with a cool event concept around it.
What’s next on the agenda for Arielle Beaudin?
I’m the Director of a committee called Place de la Femme for the Jeune Chambre de Commerce de Montreal. We’re in the process of establishing different initiatives for women in business. I just started that this year. For LORI hub, my long term goal is to have enough partners to be able to offer the space for free.
Are there any special shout outs you’d like to give?
Definitely. I want to thank my Co-Founder, Stéphane and my family who’ve been a great support. I also truly want to thank our sponsors – not because I’m supposed to mention them, but because we really have the best sponsors. Ernst & Young has been with us since the beginning and believed in our project from the get go – that’s really cool, especially for such a big company. I also want to thank our sponsor Legal Logik. And I want to say a big thank you to all of our volunteers and all those who contributed to LORI.biz. There are a lot of people to thank.