Shaper: Debbie Wosskow encore

Show aired on 1st December 2018

Debbie Wosskow OBE is recognised as one of the most prominent serial entrepreneurs in the UK, known for successfully launching and scaling businesses in the areas of digital disruption, the sharing economy and female empowerment. She graduated with an MA in Philosophy and Theology from New College, Oxford. Her entrepreneurial journey started at the age of 25 when Debbie launched her first company Mantra, a marketing consultancy, later sold to Loewy Group in 2009. She was the Founder and CEO of Love Home Swap, sold to Wyndham Destination Networks for $53m in July 2017. As co-founder and chairperson of AllBright, Debbie, along with her co-founder Anna Jones, former CEO of Hearst, aims to close the gender-based funding gap that currently prevents many women from launching and succeeding with their business ideas.

In January 2018, Debbie opened The AllBright, the first members club for working women in the UK. A second club will open in Mayfair in spring 2019, followed by the first international club in Los Angeles opening in summer 2019.

Debbie led the independent government review of the Sharing Economy and was the Founding Chair of Sharing Economy UK. She sits on the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board and was shortlisted for the City AM 2017 ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’.  She was awarded the Evening Standard’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2018. Debbie was awarded an OBE for services to business in 2017.

“I like to keep myself busy. If I have lots and lots of things to do I am madly efficient.”

“I think a lot of people don’t talk about how hard it is. What entrepreneurialism takes, more than anything, is grit.”

“Wyndham invested in Love Home Swap in 2015 and then two years later, in July 2017, I sold the business to them for $53 million. It sounds effortless. It wasn’t. It was hard work.”

“I think the difference between the businesses that succeed and those that don’t is whether the Founder has got the stomach for it. There are days and weeks that are hard, boring, depressing, that are every single negative emotion you could possibly imagine.”

“I think one of my strengths, or weaknesses depending on your perspective, is having a very short memory. The next day I have forgotten about how bad it was and I am up for it again.”

“I had agreed with my family that I would take some time off after LoveHomeSwap, but I probably took a day because it felt that this new big idea of AllBright was something that I couldn’t leave alone.”

“My own background is that the women in my life ran successful businesses. I had been surrounded by women who worked, who were entrepreneurs, and who were mothers and that was normal to me.”

“The second part of the business is the AllBright Academy – our completely free digital education platform.”

“Our strapline is ‘sisterhood works’ because we know it does, the data shows that the more that women help other women in their close support network on working topics the more successful they are.”

“Our mission is to help smart women gain the skills, confidence and network needed to achieve their career ambitions.”

“Anna and I turn to each other most days and say ‘Rhino hide, darling’ because you have to have an incredibly thick skin as an entrepreneur and in business.”