Who are you and what do you do?
I am Pauline Dawes, CEO/ Founder of SOMI Trailers, a disruptive new technology that replaces four truck journeys by three, globally.
What was involved in applying to the first Women in Innovation competition?
Applying was a very useful exercise in itself as it made me plan where I wanted to take the business, what resources I had and what more was needed to make it profitable and grow.
By reading the advice given I applied and made the responses appropriate and focused on the criteria given.
What have the benefits been?
The benefits are huge. Confidence in myself and my idea and the product. The opportunity to meet other women having similar struggles and the training were invaluable.
All in all, it was life-changing for me and SOMI Trailers. The media exposure and events promoting the project were wide ranging. We’ve had worldwide interest in SOMI trailers following Women in Innovation Award, with huge export potential.
It enabled visits to European Headquarters of companies resulting in a quotation request for 500 SOMI Trailers, (circa £35 million value). This has resulted in new suppliers and manufacturing processes to be developed to reduce the price by 30%, no mean achievement in a few months’ work.
The award paid for me to take my innovative new trailer, that saves 1 in 4 truck journeys, globally to shows, such as the Innovation Show, and to visit UK companies for them to see how it worked.
After winning a place on the Clean and Cool mission to Silicon Valley, I, with 18 other small companies making huge impacts on greening the environment, met with key people, this was also paid for by the Women in Innovation award.
It also allowed me to travel to the USA to speak at a trade show, where 30,000 visitors came to hear and see what is new in the global supply chain. This was followed by meetings with the largest logistics companies in the USA.
The other thing I would mention is to take as much free advice and training as you can get.
The Women in Innovation Award was more than a prize, they developed programmes for each person to select modules, whether on presenting for finance, dealing with difficult people, legislation on patents, too many to list here. This filled in the gaps for people like me.
Having a mentor was also a great idea. If you don’t have one, find one! You don’t have to win to do this and you never know where it will lead.
How do you see the funding and support will help you in the future?
The future has changed for SOMI because of the award and advanced progress by many years.
In addition to the above, in the UK I have had offers of substantial investment. This is very encouraging to start ups, who so often have a hard time. I believe winning the Women in Innovation award has given my business credibility and supported my efforts to gain a foothold in this incredibly male dominated world of trucking and also in engineering.
I now look forward to the future with the knowledge that there are some great people out there willing and able to support ideas with cash and importantly confidence in women that are doing something that is different to the norm.
It is a tough time to start a business and as a woman. However, I would encourage you to do it. As Master Yoda in Star Wars said:
Do or not do, there is no try
In my experience, you can have a lot of fun in the doing, whatever happens!
Apply to new Women in Innovation competition
UK business women can apply for one of 8 Women in Innovation Awards: £50,000 funding each and a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support.
- Competition opens: Monday 30 July 2018
- Competition closes: Wednesday 3 October 2018 12:00pm
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