This week #BEYOUROWN are back with Michelle Hua, public speaker, writer, Founder & CEO of Made With Glove Ltd, a UK wearable tech start-up designing fashionable heated gloves for women based in Manchester. She is also the co-founder of WoW UK Women of Wearables, an organisation that supports, inspires and connects women in wearables, the IoT and AR/VR spaces.
In 2014 Michelle led Made with Glove to being in the Top 150 Most Influential Brands in Wearable Tech and in 2015, received the highly commended blogger award at the UK Blog Awards in London. In 2016, Michelle was the recipient of the UK TechNation Exceptional Talent Visa for her significant entrepreneurial contributions in the digital technology sector and her work in promoting, mentoring and supporting Women in Tech.
Michelle worked as a commercial solicitor in private practice, in- house and the Western Australian Government in Australia and New Zealand for 8 years prior to starting her wearable technology company. Michelle holds Bachelor degrees in Commerce (Curtin University) and Laws (Murdoch University) from Perth, Western Australia.
What has been the hardest challenge you have had to overcome in running MadeWithGlove?
I launched my wearable technology company, Made With Glove in 2014 after resigning from my job as a property solicitor. Because of these challenges, I co-founded WoW UK Women of Wearables with Marija Butkovic because she understood the same challenges. The aim of WoW is to inspire, connect and support women in wearable tech, IOT, AR and VR through our events and wearable tech workshops
My hardest challenges were:
Generating income whilst developing my product
Forming my network in the wearable tech industry
Finding more women in tech and wearable tech because I noticed it was male dominated
Bringing visibility to what I do
Being from Australia, learning about the culture in the UK and
Seeking the right support for my business.
How did you know there was a market for your product?
For Made With Glove, my own challenge of suffering from cold hands during a walking tour in Prague in -21 degrees led me to designing fashionable heated gloves for women.The first step was to do a google search to search all my competitors to see what was out in the market.I purchased a handful of heated gloves and tested them. I then researched potential customers and spoke to them in the form of face to face, online questionnaires, market research surveys and targeted specific groups and spoke to them about what they use. I also did some database market research with the help of business students.
For WoW, I knew there was a market for it because I had been in the industry for 2 years. Being such a new industry it was difficult to navigate who was who. I found a mentor early on and she really helped connect with the key players in the industry. The more I spoke to my industry colleagues, and the more conferences I attended in the UK and globally, the more I realized there was a gap for WoW.
What is on the horizon for 2017, are you planning to expand? Where do you see Women of Wearables?
For Made With Glove, my aim is to focus on product development and building the right team with the right skills to achieve our goals. Seek funding and partners to help me develop the product. For WoW, we aim to confirm our strategic partnerships, sponsors and funding to run events and wearable tech workshops in London and Manchester. We also aim to build our community of WoW women not only in the UK but also globally. We plan to interview all women in wearables, IOT, AR/VR worldwide by mid 2017.
What are the crucial keys to developing a successful start-up?
There are many and they all have to align and fit with each other to ensure start up success.
The brand and most importantly,
Support from big corporations in the industry, Government and academia.
What advice do you have for our #BEYOUROWN members about overcoming barriers faced in business?
Be persistent! It is so easy to be struck by the imposter syndrome however, the best person who knows about your business and your industry is you.
Find support from different people and a mentor that you can trust and rely on.
Learn to say no. If it doesn’t fit within your goals for your business, then the answer should be no.
Read the full interview by #BeYourOwn here.