‘Be wildly inquisitive about what you’re capable of, and push yourself to find out.’
Lauren studied fine art and photography and pursued a career in photojournalism and freelance travel writing. Through her travels, her entrepreneurial spirit grew. She met her co-founder, Iain Manley, while employed as a content writer for large tour companies, and the two realised they had a lot in common, ‘It bothered us that there’s always such a strong focus on a single authoritative voice when it comes to travel – a single story. We wanted to create a travel platform for a diversity of voices, where visitors and locals alike could hear unique perspectives and insights on places,’ she says. And so they did. Lauren is now the co-founder of VoiceMap, a platform for location-aware audio tours that is made up of two parts. The first is a publishing tool, which allows people from all over the world to create their own location-aware audio tours. The second is a smartphone app that allows users to download these walking tours and listen to them so that they can explore the city they’re in at their own pace. Visit Voicemap.me.
On what she couldn’t live without:
My incredible team of editors, who work with our contributors to make our audio tours truly great. A reliable and speedy fibre connection. Rosetta Roastery’s amazing coffee (they’re a lovely little local roastery in Woodstock, Cape Town), and you! The reader, with stories of your own to tell. If you want to tell them, pop us an email.
Funding is always a concern. Very early on you have to make decisions about whether to set up camp in your garage and eat instant noodles, or pursue capital to rent office space and bankroll the endeavour. There are distinct pros and cons to each, and it can be a really hard decision to make.
On what women entrepreneurs need more of:
I would love to see a thriving community, with online forums, meet-ups, and events. Being a woman entrepreneur is difficult. We’re statistically less likely to get funded, and everyday sexism is rife in the business world. There are frustrations and challenges that are unique to women, and I would love to be able to share these, and have a support base of local women who are going through similar things. It would also make me really happy to see more women entrepreneurs. But that means more education, more support, more funding. It’s a challenge, but we’re getting there slowly.
On being an entrepreneur:
When I was a kid, my mom gave me a bit of advice that stuck. She said, ‘If you want to know something, just ask.’ As I got older it morphed into something of a life philosophy: Be curious. Ask questions. Be wildly inquisitive about what you’re capable of, and push yourself to find out. Listen to other people’s ideas and challenge your beliefs.