The technology has become a global phenomenon which is connecting people from all corners of the world. An ardent entrepreneur, Nina Tumanishvilli, the CEO and Founder of HelloHub, realized that people were becoming lonelier despite being online and connected all the time. She also saw and felt a great need for people living in large urban cities to meet likeminded individuals. She always aspired to have a positive impact on the world with whatever she went on to do. Hence, when she first had the idea of bringing people closer together in real life through technology, she was absolutely compelled to do it. This led the inception of HelloHub.
Nina is an extrovert by nature and hence, truly believes that being open to new people and opportunities have absolutely shaped her life for the better. She founded HelloHub straight out of university with a mission to invent a social ice-breaker that is a bit like her to help others connect and get together in an easy non-awkward way. Her aim is to utilize technology as an enabler vs. a disconnector. Her transition into tech and apps was a bit of a random one as her background at school was in Economics and the Humanities and she had aspirations to work in the international development sector.
A Social Icebreaker App
Over three years on being committed to her mission, Nina developed a product to be used by young urban millennials, who are tech savvy but unhappy with the current way people are consuming social media. She along with her team launched their introductory product TubeChat, a social icebreaker app for the London Underground, to help make commuting more fun, encourage friendships and solve the “no network” problem that is characteristic of the London Underground. With the help of this app, she wants to boost the chances of real-life serendipity for these people and by default herself too. It is this belief in what she is doing that has helped her overcome challenges and perseveres.
Rising above the Challenges
According to Nina, female entrepreneurs are often not being taken seriously enough and hence, are not being gifted many opportunities and chances. Similarly, in her case, fundraising has been challenging. She is convinced that some investors have not taken her 100% seriously as she is young, female and sometimes preconceived as naive. But, she enjoys proving people wrong and thus, don’t get too disheartened by rejection. She tries to adopt a more positive mindset about being young and female in the largely older white male-dominated tech industry. Her attributes help her stand out and get her message heard. She also gets a lot of love from her friends/family and young people who feel inspired by what she has achieved, which helps her keep going.
She can foresee how managing family life might be a tricky as a solo female founder because of the sheer amount of time one must invest in the early days to get a start-up off the ground. But she has no doubt that balancing both is possible especially with the right people in the surroundings and life experience to manage commitments better. The key is to work smarter.
Coming together is the Key
Nina always tries to build companionship with her competition. She believes that it’s hard to be successful in this space as one needs all the support and help one can get. She is of the opinion that owning a smaller stake in something massive is better than having full ownership and control of something worthless. Adhoc mesh networking is a notoriously hard space to crack so businesses spend a lot of time testing their tech and rely on collaboration to make it work. According to her, businesses would be much more successful if all came together as a community and built something amazing.
Endeavoring to Achieve Future Goals
Nina’s attention is currently focused on making HelloHub successful and building a company and team that she can be truly proud of. She is striving to hire people smarter than her and build products that people love. Her hope for the future is that work will continue to feel fun and exciting every day. Besides theses, she aspires to become a philanthropist and investor in companies/people.
Inculcating Essential Attributes
According to Nina, every leader should have the ability to understand, as no one would like to work with a terrible person and one can’t move mountains alone.
Secondly, flexibility is another vital attribute a leader should possess. Nina is of the opinion that start-up life is a rollercoaster, and one has to learn to manage expectations and adjust quickly to new realities. She suggests to always having plan B in the pipeline. “Stay focused, work towards your goals and be ready to say “yes” when an opportunity presents itself – the world works in mysterious ways so if you do work hard things will inevitably start happening for you” she asserts.
One should never underestimate how hard it can be to launch a successful digital business. Nina encourages people to follow their dreams and go for it with all their heart, but also suggests being smart and not getting stuck in tricky financial situations. In order to start a business, ideally, one should find a tech co-founder who can help in whipping up a decent MVP or a well-informed early stage investor willing to provide a backup. She advises emerging entrepreneurs not to start a company on a credit card loan, that’s what she did and in retrospect, it was a silly step.
Nina is of firm belief that executing idea is the key to starting a business and advises same to the upcoming entrepreneurs. Taking execution of idea into consideration, she mentions that “No one is going to steal your idea and you are not on a crazy time limit, I was incredibly anxious in the early days about people stealing my idea and getting to market first – the truth is execution is everything (so you need friends that believe in your vision to help make it happen) and good execution requires time and failure and continued learning.”
Source: Most Inspirational Women in Tech 2019 January2019