Startup Spotlight: The 888 CollectiveStartup Spotlight: The 888 Collective

Startup Spotlight: The 888 Collective

9 August 2018
Jana Dowling - The 888 Collective

Jana Dowling, Founder, The 888 Collective

This month, Jana talks to us about her experiences as the founder of social enterprise, The 888 Collective.

Can you introduce your start-up? What is it, and how did it come about?

The 888 Collective empowers people and organizations to take control of their mental fitness.
It came about after my own personal experience with mental fitness deterioration at work culminating in a severe depressive episode in which I spent 5 weeks under 24-hour watch as a high-risk suicide patient. I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and started a course of medication. After 2 months I wanted to get back to work, hit another wall, who will hire me? What job can I do? Do I tell the truth? A friend came to the rescue and gave me a job as her P.A. After being the worst P.A in the world with her support and help I was back to my “normal” high functioning self. I’ve met many people since then who are struggling to understand how to measure and control their mental fitness. So I decided to start up a company to do exactly that.

Where are you in your startup journey?

I launched selling toasties in a shed in November 2016 – my original plan was to set up a café and hire anyone that was suffering from poor mental fitness that wanted paid work. The shed turned into selling toasties in companies (mainly WeWorks – they were awesome) that then led to me designing a Personal Development and Mental Health Management Course that I teach for free to those out of work and also Managing Mental Health in the Workplace (again I teach from WeWork Locations) and now I’m currently building a board and on the way to being a fully funded startup with the focus on developing an app that will allow people to take control and manage their mental fitness.

To date, what has been the biggest triumph for your business?

Every week I have a new one but my favorite is after my Personal Development and Mental Health Management courses I put on 888’s, ticketed evenings where we deliver a pop up restaurant completely staffed by people who have been on our courses and out of work for a while. When the night runs it’s just great to see everyone working together and enjoying life and work. Securing initial funding also is pretty badass I suppose considering I started in a shed.

How have you found being a sole founder, and do you have any advice you would give to other sole founders?

I’m the sole founder. It has made things easier now I’m locking in funding, when it comes to decisions it’s just me. It’s tough and can be lonely but actually I’ve surrounded myself with wonderful mentors, which means I have great sounding boards and support.

How do you manage to balance growing a start-up with having a personal life?

Erm… I haven’t really. I don’t see my friends very often but they know why and they are real so support me regardless of my absence. To be fair most of them are doing the same thing I am with strong careers so we are all in the same boat.

How do you cope with the pressures that come with building a business?

I just take things day to day, I try not to look too far ahead or worry about things that are out of my control. I solely focus on taking positive action every day to progress.

Did you pursue investment? If so what advice would you give on pitching? What was your secret weapon?

Not in that way, I secured investment by meeting people and talking about my vision and experience. My initial investors are mentoring me through getting ready to pitch for full funding.

If you could name one thing that you wish you knew when you started, what would it be?

That the idea of a startup changes on a daily/weekly basis – so not to worry when things take a different path, usually that’s the right one. Just to always do what you can that day to make things happen and they will.

To date, what has been your most important lesson?

To trust myself and my instincts and not to rely on anyone else to make decisions for me.

Do you have any tips or advice for anyone thinking about starting up their own business, or who have just started their journey?

Keep it simple, you don’t need to spend money to make money at the beginning. Take advice from people who know the industry/market. If it’s not working change it.

What has been the most challenging part of your start-up journey so far?

Getting my head around scaling up and believing that it’s actually happening. From selling toasties in a shed to a company empowering organization’s and people to take control of their mental fitness through training, courses, partnerships and events and tech. It’s been very quick and a huge learning curve.

What’s next for your business?

Confirming my board, confirming full funding and then building the app, courses and continuing to build partnerships.

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2018-08-29T15:43:06+00:00August 9th, 2018|Categories: Startup Spotlight|