By Darcy Alexander
Vanessa Sanyauke is the CEO and founder of Girls Talk London, a company that connects young women with senior professionals through informal events, programmes, an interactive website and an online TV channel.
“I was sat at a business meeting at my old job, and I looked at the boss – a man, and I looked at his female assistant running around, and that’s when I realised there was a problem – and I wanted to find a solution.”
In her second year at Brunel University, Vanessa began a start-up; The Rafiki Network, which later became an award winning mentor and leadership training company for young people. The project began after recognising that they didn’t have many role models, which she believed was the reason behind gun and knife crime. After a while, she saw that The Rafiki Network wasn’t making enough income, so she began to rethink her career path.
“I had the ideas, but no plans; I sat and thought to myself, what am I passionate about?”
Vanessa then moved to Royal Holloway University where she studied ethical business and later contracted in banking. It was here that her brain started to tick and ask the question, ‘how can business help society?’
After four years of working at The Brokerage community projects and investment banks, Vanessa founded Girls Talk London in 2013. By hosting events, bespoke programmes, digital content and consultancy, Girls Talk London has created an amalgamation of partners from a range of different industries where women are of the minority in senior positions.
The website, Vanessa says, is ‘a voice for millennial women’ with 6000 views a month. Content is curated from issues that are affecting or influencing young women, politically and personally.
The talk show, hosted by Vanessa, which is now on its third series, developed after she noticed a gap in the market, “there are currently no chat shows for young women – there is Loose Women for the older viewer, but young girls can’t always identify with what they’re talking about.”
A self-proclaimed ‘influencer brand’, Girls Talk London prides itself on its marketing and social media presence. The key is to “create content your audience will be interested in, find your niche, study your audience – use google analytics and build your brand through social media.”
But how does Girls Talk London make money? Revenue is made from sponsorship, event ticket prices, bespoke programmes, talks/seminars, sponsored posts, commissioning and documentaries. However, Vanessa is keen to expand her horizons by following a corporate model; she is eager to include recruitment adverts on the weekly newsletters, with an extra charge on the website and is looking toward a fee-paid membership to access content.
Having an idea is easy, actually putting it into action is the hard part, so what does it take to become an entrepreneur – and a successful one at that? “Everything stops with you. If you call in sick, how can content be produced and in my case – be presented? Sacrifices have to be made, long hours and hard work, perseverance and drive. You have to have the mindset to succeed and keep going. When you have your own brand, you are the brand’s reputation. You have to do things you might not feel like doing and always learn along the way.”
“What’s great is that you can work from your own schedule and from anywhere you want. You are your work, it goes with you. But the best part is being able to see the impact on others, help make other people’s lives better.”
Most importantly, Girls Talk London developed from a passion, so ask yourself, what are you passionate about? Because even if you think no one will care, somebody definitely will because as Vanessa says, “there are people out there who like really weird things – so find your niche.”
Got a business idea or a startup you’d like to take to the next level? Get in touch with the Innovation Hub at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a 1-to-1 business consultation to turn your idea into reality!
Motivated to win at 2017? Girls Talk London are hosting an inspiring event with influential women and men who have managed to rise up quickly in their careers to Senior positions within FTSE 100 businesses, media and the public sector. Find out more about Women Talk: How to raise our game in 2017.