Donna Cardona, Founder of pregnancy and parenthood consulting firm MyMama, has said that in order to be successful in the start-up space, one needs to be ready to embrace different challenges and take them in their stride.
Ms Cardona founded the company in 2020 with the aim of being a centralised platform for expert-led pregnancy and parenthood advice, education and community support. She rose to prominence after appearing on the first season of TV programme Shark Tank Malta, securing a €120,000 investment in the company.
However, life as a start-up Founder has not been completely plain sailing, she recently explained to start-up mentor Paul Grech during an interview for his blog Growth Expectations, as different failures need to be addressed and tackled.
“I think as a start-up Founder you have to be naturally curious, and you have to be willing to constantly learn and evolve,” Ms Cardona said. She remarked that this isn’t strictly a “challenge,” but it is essentially what “building a start-up is all about – test, observe, learn, and modify.”
“Start-up life also involves a good dose of failures and that’s something you need to take in your stride and learn how to look at in a positive way. You only fail because you’re trying new things, because you’re not stagnant,” she added.
Despite these struggles, she also pointed out that there are plenty of successes, and these are crucial as they help keep the Founder and the rest of the team’s morale up, while also ensuring everyone remains focused on the purpose and goals behind the venture.
“With scaling come new challenges, such as having to delegate certain tasks and, an even tougher one, learning to say no when a particular path will lead you to stray away from your mission,” Ms Cardona further added.
Additionally, it wasn’t as easy as one may think to take the leap and create a start-up from scratch, especially for Ms Cardona as a mother of four children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once she had her business plan in place with the intention of opening MyMama as a brick-and-mortar business, she proceeded to apply for a grant and a loan from Malta Enterprise, and also left her previous job in order to fully focus on her venture. However, while she received the grant, she didn’t get the loan, receiving the news on the same week that Malta was shut down due to the pandemic.
“The lack of funds and the current situation meant that I had to change my business plan but had zero digital skills to take it online,” she added.
Instead of letting this hinder her, Ms Cardona worked to earn a Diploma in Digital Marketing within the space of three months, and also learnt how to build a website and got a small team of freelancers together.
As she looked back, she told Mr Grech that it required “a lot of courage” to take the plunge when considering that the scenario was “less than ideal.”
“I refused to let the input of those around me scare me, which was lucky because if I really knew what I was getting myself into I would have chickened out 100 per cent. I have learnt that many times, following my gut instinct and just making sure to follow through with my vision, as long as it’s a calculated risk, is the way to go,” Ms Cardona explained.
When asked if she would have done something differently at the start of her start-up journey, Ms Cardona said that she would have delved into entrepreneurship earlier.
“Back in my days at school, only the more traditional careers were pushed on us, and entrepreneurship was never an option. Luckily, things are changing and young people are being encouraged and supported more explore different routes to really understand where their strengths lie,” she stated.
Ms Cardona also pointed out that she would have ideally surrounded herself with the right mentors from the very start of her journey. She discovered the importance and power of mentorship at a relatively late stage due to the fear of being in a situation where she would be “taking without being able to give back.”
“Again, this is something young people should be taught about and discover first-hand earlier on,” she continued.
To read the full interview, click here.
MyMama Founder Donna Cardona / LinkedIn
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