Interviews & Profiles

Building A Community: The Hera Hub

How to Take Your Food Startup to the Big Leagues

Meet The Woman: “Women especially crave community,” said San Diego based, Felena Hanson in a New York Times interview where she discussed the motivation behind her latest venture, Hera Hub, which she opened in August 2011. Felena describes herself as being an entrepreneur her entire life. She had a career in marketing which laid the foundation for one of her first businesses,’ Prospective Marketing. As a well networked professional who values collaboration she has worked with several female communities such as the Women’s Global Network and Ladies Who Launch. All which eventually led her, to where she is today, at the helm of Hera Hub, an innovative co-working space for female entrepreneurs.

Co-working spaces are known for their capacity to bring start-up entrepreneurs together in a low-cost office space. They solve the office space problem, which is often too costly, too big or too small and deliver a solution to the element of loneliness many home based and solo-preneurs often face. It also provides a relaxed office environment devoid of the corporate feel. Let’s take a closer look at how Felena went about creating a community for female entrepreneurs firstly in San Diego and how she plans to empower women globally to achieve their goals.

Solve A Problem

In the case of Hera Hub, there were two main problems: productivity and a lack of female friendly spaces. Working from home makes it difficult at times to really be productive. One ends up watching television, running errands, walking the dog or getting caught up in so many distractions. Sitting in a room all day by one’s self can be terribly isolating and the inability to bounce an idea off of someone is impossible when you are all on your own. Hera Hub solves this problem by creating a collaborative environment across industries. This enables women from different industries to share ideas and develop innovative working methods. It also provides an opportunity to interact with women who are working on projects vastly different from their own.

When creating a work space such as Hera Hub, the value is in the membership. Each member brings their unique talents and business acumen to the environment. As the space is gender specific it creates a network of like-minded women who can learn from and teach each other. Opportunities to mentor and do business together may arise, the sharing of mutual contacts will occur and other business development related activities will transpire. As so many of the current co-working spaces tend to be male dominated and very much tech or youth oriented, Hera Hub provides a space which allows women from all industries and any age group to get together.

Identify the Competition

Identifying the competition is very important to any business. There are different ways to do this but a simple approach would be to ask three simple questions. Where would my customers go if I didn’t exist? Who would solve their problem? By creating my business whose customers am I taking away? In the case of Hera Hub, the answers were very simple as nothing like it currently existed in San Diego.

The competition at the time was a spare bedroom and a local Starbucks. Customers were either staying at home or visiting a coffee shop to work and/or have meetings. We have already identified a few of the problems with staying at home but the local coffee shop isn’t suitable either as it is generally loud, there isn’t enough space and it is more of a place to socialise than to have reputable business meetings. As Starbucks is not a co working space Hera Hub have not taken away its customer but Hera Hub members may stop their en route to grab a coffee, which is good for both businesses.’

Create the Environment

In order for any community to flourish there must be something that makes it special. This uniqueness is what will make it stand out from the rest and invite others to join. A strong sense of community will unavoidably rest with its members, however the physical environment is immensely important.

One of the problems the Hera Hub is solving is the tendency for most co-working spaces to be very masculine in appeal. In order to create a feminine feel they created a spa inspired yet professional environment. Women enjoy going to the spa because it represents self-care and provides an escape from the mundane realities of daily life. It is also peaceful and tranquil. Hera Hub brings the spa aesthetic to their co-working space with simple touches like high-quality lighting, gentle music and running water. This welcoming setting combined with office furniture in an open space makes it both professional and appealing.

Know the Vision

The Hera Hub vision is to create 200 locations in the next 5 years, which will help 20,000 female entrepreneurs internationally. Their vision is clear, concise and sets out their long-term plans. Founder Felena, is turning her passion for collaboration and seeing female businesses’ thrive into profit. Through franchising she will see her vision blossom into a supportive network of leaders and connectors.

To develop a vision for your business you must first define your goals and assess whether they are measurable. Understand why it is important to you and the main driver and purpose behind it. Is this work that you would do even if you weren’t paid? Is the passion strong enough to keep you sustained during the difficult times? Passion is an important ingredient because it is something that you love, do well and more importantly enjoy. A strong passion can have a business successfully built around it.

Wishing Felena Well

Entrepreneurship is necessary to economic growth. Fostering female entrepreneurship contributes to this growth but also improves a woman’s self worth, positively affects her ability to make choices and gives her access to unlimited resources. Women entrepreneurs lead at the micro and macro level. We wish Felena well as she continues to drive social change with the Hera Hub, one goddess at a time.

About the author

Jo-Ann A Hamilton

Jo-Ann A. Hamilton is the Founder of SecretBirds, an enterprise, which encourages, empowers and supports girls and women through entrepreneurship. Jo-Ann is a sustainability enthusiast, avid traveler and devoted runner. You can find her cycling around happily on her bike.

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