Interview with Wander Woman, biggest winner of UNLEASH Plus 2021
Wander Woman is an award winning community founded by Sabira Mehrin Saba, exclusively dedicated to female travel enthusiasts from Bangladesh. This first of its kind platform was established in 17 September, 2017. Now it is serving more than 6,000 members globally. They joined UNLEASH Plus 2021 and during the Dragons’ Den event they received a total of USD 22,500: Chemonics International offered a grant of USD 20,000, which was coupled with USD 2,500 from Acrobator Ventures. We talked with them about their journey and how this grant will support their future plans to scale their solution.
How did the idea of creating a platform to end the stigma for female travel enthusiasts in South Asia come to you?
Growing up in Bangladesh, it has been a common scenario to see that women in the house are not receiving permission to travel if they want. Every 8 out of 10 women here in the country face unwanted and unfair obstacles in order to mobilize due to gender discrimination and social stigma. In 2014, when I was invited to Seattle for a social entrepreneurship competition, I wasn’t allowed to travel to the USA from Bangladesh. Two of my male team members could travel which made me determined that I should change this narrative.
Later when I could travel overseas and represent Bangladesh, I became unstoppable and won global awards for my ventures and business acumen. Such transformation in terms of confidence, achievement and empowerment pushed me to share my challenges and inspire more women in the country to travel. It was evident that with the right set of information, assistance and opportunities, any woman can travel safely, freely and fearlessly. Hence, Wander Woman was born in 2017 keeping that notion in mind.
What was a surprising learning that you’ve come across while creating the foundations of the business, and you had never thought about?
I never thought how the values and integrity of the business can be sometimes more powerful than the product itself. It’s important to focus on how you make your customers feel about your product or service – this builds a relationship with your customers beyond the business aspect.
What would you like to achieve with Wander Woman in the next 3-5 years?
Over the next 5 years, I envision Wander Woman to be the go-to platform for experience and empowerment of women in South Asia. Any woman willing to have a safe and meaningful experience through tours to events to experiences should opt for Wander Woman.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Wander Woman grows beyond one continent as it’s addressing global issues and I believe, Wander Woman has the potential to serve the aspiring and ambitious women who are held back due to gender.
If you could go back in time and start all over, what would be the first thing you would do?
I would have grabbed every other opportunity to scale Wander Woman without having any doubt.
How has UNLEASH Plus helped you in your journey to further develop your solution?
UNLEASH Plus has tremendously helped me through its rigorous and insightful modules. Those lectures and assignments pushed me to document every critical aspect of the business which I helped me to define as well as refine the processes.
On top of that, the expert sessions have incredibly shaped my pitch deck and also guided me towards how I view the business model. My mentor and the organizing team have been cooperative and cordial at every step when I needed guidance and assistance for progress.
I would recommend every UNLEASH delegate to apply for this program and make it through the end as it shows direction regarding your venture.
What was the most valuable learning that you got from the program?
I would highlight those modules and sessions on financials and fundraising were proven to be valuable for our venture. We could create a fundraising roadmap and understand how we can define our financial model for each product category.
What are the key priorities for the business now that you got 20,000 USD from Chemonics International and 2,500 USD from Acrobator Ventures worth of funding as a winning prize during Dragons’ Den?
The key priorities of Wander Woman are to have an automated booking platform through hiring women developers. Moreover, we want to expand our operations across Bangladesh.
We believe this fund would help us to reach more women who are willing to travel and eventually contribute to the tourism industry of the country.
Which advice would you give to a venture in a similar position to where you were when you started the UNLEASH Plus incubator program?
Never compromise with hard work in order to achieve a goal.
I put blinkers on and had a razor-sharp focus on learning from the program – this enhanced my skills on communication, time management and teamwork.
Where should people reach out to if they want to know more about your project?
Email: [email protected]
Founder & CEo: [email protected]