Veena V is a former Channel 4 award winning radio presenter who started her radio career at the age of 16 in Oxford. She went on to present for various media outlets including BBC Essex, MOBO TV and hosted events to thousands of people at venues such as Trafalgar Square. She now helps people achieve unstoppable confidence through her hypnotherapy practice and video marketing courses. Her podcast ‘Mum To Millionaire’ was awarded ‘Best Business’ by Jacqueline Gold CBE (CEO of Ann Summers) In 2022, Veena launched ‘Oxford Creators’ an alternative not-for-profit provision, based in Didcot. This was inspired by her son, who was blocked from going to school and who is currently still out of education. Oxford Creators CIC will support 11-16-year-olds who are at risk of exclusion and help them thrive through therapy, mentoring, employability programs and developing digital skills.
What is your background? What made you decide to get involved in supporting entrepreneurs?
After a successful radio career, I became a single mum at the age of 22. Working as a receptionist in London to make ends meet, I felt I was not fulfilling my poten<al. Against all advice, I left my steady job to become an entrepreneur, I did it out of necessity. Over the years I created digital courses, delivered video marketing workshops, and put on networking events for businesswomen. My latest venture as an entrepreneur started with my son getting excluded from class. My son has now been out of his Oxfordshire secondary school for 9 months and I discovered many more parents who were facing similar issues. Therefore, I started a not-for-profit venture called Oxford Creators CIC. We officially launch in September 2022.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Personally, for me it is about finding a solution to a problem. It’s creating multiple solutions, helping people, taking action on your ideas and thinking creatively
How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
I think once I realised the amount of children that were slipping through and being failed by the education system. I did extensive research talking to parents and secondary schools and they confirmed there was a lack of alternative provision in Oxfordshire
What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
Resilience, Communication & Confidence/Creativity
What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
I think just having the abilities to solve problems creatively or looking at issues in a different way. Also, being a mum having your own schedule really helps as it lets you be flexible.
What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
Kings Camps which is a charity that’s helps children in the holidays was very inspiring for me as a starting point. But I have mainly been inspired by my parents – they are the most empathetic people I know
If you had 5 minutes with the above individual/ company/organization, what would you want to ask or discuss?
I’ve actually already talked to the CEO of Kings Camps, a lovely gentlemen called Richard Holmes. He was one of the first people I reached out to on Linkedin for advice about setting up a charity. He gave me an hour of his time when Oxford Creators CIC was just a thought in my head! We talked about their strategy, ethos and the best way to help disadvantaged children.
What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
I’ve had many achievements but I think my most satisfying moment will be when we have our first cohort of young people start Oxford Creators. I will then truly feel I am making a difference in the world
What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
I don’t see anything as a failure, but I have learned plenty of lessons! Mainly around boundaries, consistency and time management. For anything to succeed in life, for any goal to be reached – you really must remain consistent and take action every day
How have you funded your ideas?
My venture has been entirely bootstrapped. In the future, we look forward to be funded by schools and councils.
Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
Since moving to Oxfordshire I’ve had great support from the OSEP escalate program. Many charities and individuals have really helped me with advice on setting up a not-for-profit in the education system. Also, I have an incredible advisory board who are there whenever I need them.
What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
The community has been so supportive about my venture and what I am doing. People have shown real support and have been really supportive. They have offered help in many ways and I am truly grateful for the social enterprise community in Oxfordshire
If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?
If you ask me this question in 12 months, I’m sure I can give you plenty of resources! Still being new into the Oxfordshire community I would recommend new entrepreneurs to reach out to as many established businesses and successful entrepreneurs as possible. Getting 30 minutes 1-2-1 with a CEO of a company is so valuable – start reaching out to them on Linkedin or twitter. Not only are you getting advice, you are slowly expanding your own network (and as the quote says ‘your network is your net worth’)
Have you faced any challenges as a woman entrepreneur? If so, how have you overcome them?
There is always an unconscious bias when women go out to be entrepreneurs but fortunately I have not faced a lot of pushback just because I am a woman.
What resources would you recommend for other women?
We still live in a male heavy entrepreneurship world – I would recommend female entrepreneurs to seek out books, podcasts and networking events that are run by women for women. Find your tribe and thrive together
How could institutions such as the University of Oxford better support women entrepreneurs?
It would be great to have some networking events where we could access partnerships/resources and gain mentorship and support. Even if something like a trip could be organised for school students to the university it would really be inspiring and motivating for them.
Any last words of advice?
Get out of your comfort zone, I think not a lot of women put themselves out there. Start saying YES to speaking opportunities, create your own podcast, start a YouTube channel. Its very useful to get good at PR, promoting yourself and your business and finally its so important to create noise about what you care about.