«You will always find people that discourage you.»
We hear a lot more about men in executive positions than about women – and that although female entrepreneurs are doing just as great! That’s why we had a chat with Fernanda Barrence, co-founder and CEO of The Trip Boutique. She tells us what success means to her, which advice she did not follow and what the best moment of her career was so far.
STARTUPDATE: Was being an entrepreneur always your dream profession or what got you into it?
FERNANDA BARRENCE: Becoming an entrepreneur came naturally, as part of wanting to have different experiences in life. Prior to being an entrepreneur, I had studied Business Administration and worked in large multinational corporations for over 10 years; and I was happy in those roles. At some point, I felt a strong desire to work on solutions that make people’s lives easier, so I went back to University to do a Master’s degree in Design and Innovation. I identified a big problem to solve, and founding The Trip Boutique was the natural consequence. I felt professionally ripe to work on it, I had the energy, drive and opportunity to dedicate to that project and I was very excited about this new career path and all the things I could learn.
What’s your stand on the debate whether more women should be in executive positions?
For me it’s as simple as this: diversity and representation are key to a fair, equal and sustainable future. If we want a better future, we need to give space to more and different voices in all spheres: businesses, society and politics. And this is not just a matter of fairness: men and women have different view points, ideas, and insights. Research has shown time and time again that combining those leads to better, more inclusive problem solving and thus ultimately to superior results.
What characteristics should an entrepreneur possess?
Drive and passion– necessary to stick to your vision.
Optimism – to overcome obstacles.
Flexibility, for when things don’t turn out as expected.
Have you ever been treated differently because you’re a woman?
Yes, I have been treated differently in my career because I am a woman. The truth is that most women have. In the past, I would pretend not to notice and ignore it. My answer was always a can-do attitude, trying to prove that I deserved the spaces I wanted to occupy. With time I realized that it is very difficult to fight biases, no matter how much effort you individually put in to prove the bias wrong. Nowadays, I don’t miss one opportunity to put prejudicial comments and behaviors in the spotlight. I try to promote the debate about gender biases and make people conscious that there is a different way of thinking. We must move away from preconceptions and outdated beliefs.
What is success to you?
The concept of what constitutes success is very personal and for me it has to do with self-fulfillment. I feel successful when I am working on something that fully uses my talents and abilities, because I see meaning in what I do, and because I see the impact I wanted to create.
Which entrepreneur would you like to have lunch with?
I would love to have lunch with Katrina Lake, CEO of Stich Fix. She was a pioneer in making personalization scalable, had a great vision for her service from the early days and made it happen in an extremely successful way. I would love to learn more about her failures and how she overcame them.
Which advice did you not follow?
You always find people that discourage you, actually a lot more than those who encourage you. Usually it’s a reflection of their own doubts and questionings, and not yours. In the very early stages of The Trip Boutique, I got the following advice from a fellow entrepreneur: „Don’t do it, this is too complicated“. If I had listened to that advice, I would have missed out on the greatly rewarding opportunity to see an idea becoming a service and be used by thousands of people. I would never give such advice, since only each individual can know what they are willing to give up on to live the entrepreneurial experience and be successful in their endeavor.
What are your professional visions and goals for the future?
Right now, my only focus is on making The Trip Boutique and all of its stakeholders – that is employees, business partners, investors, and customers – successful. When that mission is accomplished, I would love to help other entrepreneurs and their businesses achieve their goals and make an impact.
What was the best moment of your career so far?
It’s very difficult to point out one single moment. In my experience, life as an entrepreneur is filled with failures and successes. Some successes are of course more memorable than others, for example the recognition of having our startup receiving an international innovation award, signing a promising contract, or getting great investors onboard. But they don’t make the daily successes less important and worthy of celebration, one day at a time.
What piece of advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
It can get difficult, but don’t give up! Otherwise you’ll miss out on a lot of fun and truly rewarding moments.
Thanks for the Interview!
Fernanda Barrence is CEO and co-founder of The Trip Boutique – a travel-tech startup which uses technology to produce personalized travel plans that match clients‘ individual tastes and preferences. Prior to founding The Trip Boutique, Fernanda spent 10 years working in various advisory and management roles at large corporations in the Americas and in Europe.