Introducing: Entrepreneur in Residence and Tech Queen, Christie Whitehill
Christie Whitehill is an award winning entrepreneur, mentor in the Australian tech space and mother to 2 kids under 5, here at Freelancing Gems we call that superwoman! In 2017 Christie founded Tech Ready Women an education platform and network that provides women with world class digital training programs and content for personal growth and business innovation. Not only is she a mother of 2 and heads up a successful tech business, Christie is also an advisory board member for Generation Australia and director at Women’s Entrepreneurs Association (WEA).
We are thrilled to welcome Christie Whitehill as our newest Entrepreneur in Residence, and to connect her with our Freelancing Gems members to support, empower and encourage you to reach your business goals.
How or when did you know the entrepreneur life was for you?
I think I have always been an entrepreneur. I was one of those kids who sold lemonade out the front of my house or was creating and doing things to make pocket money. Once I got to high school it became apparent that I wasn’t the academic type and struggled a lot with the rote learning which killed my creative nature. As soon as I left school I walked into a retail job and it wasn’t long until I was promoted to a store manager, which helped me develop my leadership skills. I was 26 when I started my first tech startup. I fell in love with the challenge of learning something new while building the business. I failed many times and I also had some wins early on which only acted as fuel to keep going and grow as a person. After 11 years of being an entrepreneur I don’t think I could go back to working a “real” job, although I do get quite a lot of attractive offers.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I have two gorgeous kids under 5 so the mornings I wake up at around 6.30am go through the morning madness of getting everyone ready and then their wonderful nanny arrives to take the kids out to the park or pn play dates. I’m now working from home thanks to COVID in our home office alongside my husband David who is currently working from home a lot now too. I call him my noisy co-worker.
The work day usually starts with a quick team standup, some meetings, strategy sessions and mentoring for the women in our Tech Ready Women program. On three of the five work days I also get outside to do yoga, walking and I try to stick to a meditation practice everyday. When I say try it just means any day is different so my practice for calming my mind can mean I get 5 mins, 10 mins or sometimes 20 mins of meditation in. For me self care is really important because I have experienced a major burnout and health crash and once you get to that point it can take a long time to come back to your usual self.
The day ends with me spending time with the kids, cooking them dinner, bath and bed. I then hang with my hubby, do a little bit of work, do some stretches and in bed by 10.30pm.
If you could go back to when you were just starting out and give yourself one piece of advice what would that be?
I would say two things:
Get obsessed with your customer. Go out and speak to them, ask them about their likes, dislikes, involve them in the process early on and get feedback. It will save you so much time and money and you’ll build the right product or service from day one.
Second thing is to relax, hustling too hard and not getting rest can be bad for your health. By taking time to be still and focus within will give you all the guidance you need to carve out a path to a successful life.
What is your favourite business quote that inspires you?
For me working on my personal growth has been the key factor in my business success so this is one from one of my favourite spiritual teachers:
“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
― Eckhart Tolle
What is the biggest challenge you have faced professionally and what did you do to overcome it?
I have faced so many challenges big and small. One big one that sticks with me is: In 2013 after raising $300K and having a large $750K media deal on the table for my dating app Fancied I had to close down my first startup because of an international competitor coming into the Australian market (Tinder). This was devastating as I had such a big vision, and was getting good traction. But with that said I bounced back after about 3 weeks to pivot into a new business which I ran for 4.5 years. How I overcame it was because I worked with an amazing personal growth coach who helped shift my perception on the whole situation.
The second major one happened in 2019. I would say was 2.5 years after launching Tech Ready Women when I fell pregnant with my second child Ava. With Ava I experienced a very challenging pregnancy which made me take a step back and reduce my work hours. For the over achiever in me I really struggled with this, but my health was declining from too much stress and not enough self care. These days I invest a lot more in my daily health and practices for reducing stress and unwinding, which allows me to be much more productive without the risk of burnout.
What can we expect from your term as our Entrepreneur in Residence?
I’m very excited to be your EIR. My specialities are in new product and service development and go-to-market, business strategy, business modelling, idea validation, market research, branding, PR, networking, raising capital and more. I look forward to answering any of your questions.
We are delighted to bring Christie to our members as our Entrepreneur in Residence, and for our Ruby and Emerald members, make sure you ask her all your burning business questions this month.
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