Interview: Woomentum, The Women’s Movement

Woomentum believes that women do not need to be empowered. It is a movement, where women play by their own set of rules in business. An umbrella, that encompasses various ventures for women aspiring to turn their business ideas into a reality. Woomentum is the first crowdsourcing platform in Southeast Asia and Japan that covers both business support and funding access to women entrepreneurs. I met with founder of Woomentum, Mouna Aouri Langendorf, who gives us her insights on crowdfunding and more.

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(This interview has been edited for flow and clarity.)

Hi Mouna, could you tell us about yourself and how you got to be so passionate about entrepreneurship?

I’m Tunisian, I studied civil engineering in Tunisia (North Africa). I worked as an engineer there for 2 years and then I left to Japan – when I was 25 – to do my masters in urban engineering. After doing technical engineering work, I slowly moved to marketing and sale of technologies. I realised that I don’t only want to do pure technical work, I also wanted to work more with people. I moved back to Tunisia in 2006 to start my own consultancy company for about 5 years. After that, my husband and I moved to Asia because of the revolution. We’ve always loved Asia.

Why did you decide to start Woomentum?

I had a very exciting career prior to moving here, and I got into that rhythm of making things happen. After I gave birth and moved to Singapore, I realised that my business model was not applicable anymore. Ending up staying months at home depressed me, and that was a very challenging time in my life. Slowly, I realised that I was not the only one stuck in this rut. That, coupled with the fact that still not many women are holding high positions in companies. I decided to start Woomentum, mostly based on my personal story. Entrepreneurship gives freedom and flexibility to women, where they play by their own rules. That being said, I don’t want Woomentum to be perceived as a feminist movement. It’s not about women getting together and being stronger. It’s about changing the whole eco-system, where it is normal that women get out there to work.

What are the trends right now with regards to crowdfunding?

There are two types: Equity-based and reward-based. Equity-based is not regulated in Asia right now. Reward-based crowdfunding is rising, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The most important thing in crowdfunding is the innovation. You need to have a compelling story, why you’re doing what you’re doing. Your campaign needs to have a purpose e.g. you might be trying to solve a problem.

So, what is Woomentum all about?

Woomentum is a brand, where you can find Hercolab and CrowdFundHerLive. Both are crowdsourcing projects. Hercolab is where the expertise, the advice comes from. CrowdFundHerLive is crowdfunding, where the money comes from. These two are solutions for entrepreneurs when they start their businesses. Entrepreneurs may have the idea, but not have the expertise. Hercolab is a marketplace where women can hire women for an affordable price, to help them further their business. It should be up by the end of this year.

CrowdFundHerLive focuses on milestone funding, where you have short-term goals to achieve a long-term plan. For example, I need $100,000 in the next months to take my business to the next level. It is easier to first raise $10,000 than to raise a lump sum of $100,000 in one go. CrowdFundHerLive takes in people at the point where they have something concrete to show. This is because it is difficult to crowdfund just for idea. People would not put a single dollar in an idea.

What about the offline activities of CrowdFundHerLive?

We had one recently on the 23rd of September. 4 ladies pitched to the crowd and panelists, where their idea was already something tangible. The pitch is not just about the money, but also for the women pitching to gain valuable feedback. It’s like we take kickstarter, and bring it offline. The difference is that we have panelists. We had Joanna Flint, Country Director at Google, who has been in marketing and digital marketing for 20 years. She gave really sincere advice, and it doesn’t stop there. There is also a follow-up. CrowdFundHerLive is essentially an offline activity with live crowdfunding, where we create a Peatix page as such, and people can contribute on the spot. All these offline activities are building up to the online, kickstarter-like platform, crowdfundherlive.com. It will go live by the end of November.

What is in store for Woomentum?

I’m planning to bring Hercolab to San Francisco, as it is the only platform where women can crowdsource for entrepreneurial question and answer expertise. For CrowdFundHerLive, I will eventually want to expand across the region.

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Bonus: Mouna shared her top tips to succeed as an entrepreneur!

  1. Ask yourself: Why should anyone support my business? What is the problem I am solving? Do I have a compelling story and purpose behind my product?
  2. Be ready with your business idea and do not go too early into the fundraising.
  3. Set aside at least two months of preparation. A campaign requires clear goals and a high level of commitment.
  4. To crowdfund, one must have a crowd. If you do not have a crowd for your project (at least 100 people), it would be very challenging to succeed in the process of Crowdfunding.
  5. Engage your crowd, engage your potential customers, keep them informed about what you do. Make sure the solution offered appeals or relates to the crowd.

Check out Woomentum here, and if you wish, you can connect with Mouna here!