The Australian, February 17, 2017:
The top end of town might have the Business Council, but young entrepreneurial Australian women have formed their own informal networking group — Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine.
Started in October 2015 by Gen George, founder of online hiring agency Skilld, and Jane Lu, founder of Showpo, LMBDW began when a few women starting getting together over wine to talk business.
“We started catching up, once a month, having a glass of wine and sharing war stories about our businesses,” says George. “Next minute we had about 30 women coming to a dinner and we set up a Facebook page. We wanted to have a frank, down-to-earth group where women starting up their own businesses could catch up in a safe environment and learn from each other.”
“We were laughing about what to call ourselves … There was a saying going around at the time ‘bitches get shit done’.”
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Within a few months the group had 10,000 business women on its Facebook site asking questions, exchanging ideas and setting up get-togethers. It then began inviting prominent women in business to speak to them. LMBDW now has more than 27,000 members in 10 countries, working in cities that include Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Canberra, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, New York, San Francisco, Dublin, Auckland, Singapore and Phnom Penh.
George, who founded her own business, OneShift, with her father in June 2012, says events are organised online. The group’s Christmas party at a wine bar in Sydney — one of few events allowing men to come along — had more than 300 attendees. In December it set up a website, likemindedbitches.com, with a directory of members and a guide to upcoming events. George and Lu are keen to keep it as informal as possible, using “volunteer ambassadors” to set up events in their city.
“When we ask people to be speakers we are very strict about saying we want a frank conversation,” she says. “We want to hear what’s good and what’s bad about their business. Nobody is here for the fluffy titles.
“It is not about walking around, shaking hands and giving out business cards and networking. It is about learning from people’s experiences and allowing people who need advice to call out what they need help for.”
Members post questions on the Facebook site asking for help or advice, with others encouraged to help out from their own experiences. They are in a wide range of businesses, and include those who have just started their own business or who are thinking about it.
The group can receive more than 300 requests a day to join, and has some 5000 followers on Instagram.
“We have seen several new businesses actually start up from women in the group working together,” says George.
This year, George and Lu are planning to travel to all cities where LMBDW has members. “We will be videoing the journey and the members we meet and have some great content for people interested in starting their own businesses.”