Leadership Lessons: how FLIK's Cofounder transformed her biggest problem into a community she craved
Currently, less than 1 in 5 global businesses are owned by women. FLIK is here to change that.
Since she was young, Ravina Anand made things happen for herself. A passionate learner, she would vicariously research educational trips and opportunities to travel the world and expand on her experience outside of her home province of Alberta. She didn’t see geography or location as an inhibitor, rather, an opportunity to create the experiences she longed for.
Ravina credits her experience growing up in Alberta as the catalyst for how she views the world: “The political diversity is strong and distinctly drives how people live their lives”. The range of viewpoints, voices and political lenses encouraged her to adopt an empathizing outlook to dealing with difference, informing her approach as a leader - the same approach she embraces as Cofounder and COO of FLIK.
FLIK is an online apprenticeship portal connecting women entrepreneurs and business owners with ambitious female talent. A multi-sided platform and buzzing community, the portal brings together female leaders and talent to create curated apprenticeships, allowing women business owners to scale their companies, mentor the next generation and recruit talented team members while apprentices are exposed to entrepreneurship, building valuable skills to propel their own success. FLIK’s goal? To help increase female-led ventures globally and advance women’s economic participation.
The problem: (No) female representation
Ravina’s penchant for social entrepreneurship was sparked through a spontaneous application to NEXT 36’s Business Accelerator in Toronto. She applied on a whim and found herself accepted into the program in the summer of 2019. Of the 36 participants, only 10 were women, and there was no female representation amongst the mentors, role models or founders. This stark lack of female engagement was in drastic opposition to the experience Ravina truly craved as a young female entrepreneur, urging her and future FLIK Cofounder Michelle Kwok to bond as roommates in the program. Their experience was a modicum of a larger systemic issue: female representation and access in entrepreneurship circles.
Ravina and Michelle decided to go out and create blueprints for female mentorship opportunities themselves, cold calling successful business women and entrepreneurs to get a roadmap of what success could look like for a young female entrepreneur.
No inhibitions, they started at the top, calling the likes of Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post and Thrive Global) Samantha Barry (Editor-in-Chief of Glamour Magazine), Reena Merchant (Leadership at Google/YouTube) and more. Through these endeavours, the Co-founders discovered that many of these women were interested in expanding the upcoming pipeline of female entrepreneurs and business leaders themselves. Ravina and Michelle tapped into a global need for connecting women who have the desire to scale their businesses and provide mentorship to other women who would benefit from experience and their expertise.
The solution: removing barriers to increase access
Recently having finished her Masters Degree at UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, Ravina’s ongoing passions reside in technology, global health governance and philosophy. Specifically, how remote populations and women’s rights are affected by political landscapes and the residual impacts on health, wellbeing and socio-economic opportunity. With a range of experiences under her belt, such as representing Canada at the Global Changemakers Summit in Switzerland, meeting the President of Taiwan, and now, COO of her own startup, these opportunities have contributed to her unique understanding of global issues, citizenship and access, stoking her drive to remove barriers and create this reality for other young women through her work with FLIK.
Within 30 days of their launch in early January of this year, FLIK saw over 800 applications from students at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and more, without the use of paid ads or distribution. Now, after a few months, they are at over 3,700 applications. Obviously, they hit the nail on the head, extrapolating on their own experience to help connect women requiring the same support, guidance and mentorship they so desired.
The early results have been phenomenal with applications from women in over 41 countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, and even typically untapped regions such as Nigeria and Kenya. Of note, they have received an influx of applications from NYU - Abu Dhabi, showcasing their global appeal and potential for impact. In these instances, FLIK is able to provide opportunities for women in remote and rural areas, matching them with businesses capable of facilitating remote work. Firms can sponsor apprentices to provide mutually beneficial placements that drive economic growth while reaching communities that are geographically isolated, amplifying FLIK’s impact across the world.
“Technology changes the way people gain skills and education, and we have to make that accessible. Apprenticeships in this manner can bypass a lack of access to education, specifically experiential learning”.
- Ravina Anand, Cofounder and COO of FLIK
FLIK is a venture in entrepreneurship@UBC’s Phase 3 venture building program, and completed our Social Venture Incubator program delivered in partnership with Spring. Having gone through several programs aimed at building the business and financial aspect of their startup, Ravina and Michelle wanted FLIK to flourish as a socially minded company with impact as part of their mandate. Working with entrepreneurship@UBC Entrepreneurs in Residence Paul Needham, Shannon Bard and (former EiR) Sarah Applebaum, the team has been able to pair both the social and business side of FLIK to drive sustainability and amplify the positive impact they are generating.
With a team of 6, FLIK is growing in response to the increasing demand for student talent. Particularly amongst COVID-19, FLIK has been a crucial resource for students whose internship prospects were deterred due to the pandemic. For example, Evelynn (who, once March hit, had no idea what the next few months entailed nevertheless what job opportunities existed) was able to secure an apprenticeship through FLIK, gaining tangible skills and experience to further her future. At the onset of COVID-19, FLIK specifically launched an initiative to connect female leaders with innovative students to help fight the effects of COVID-19 on their business, while also providing relevant career experiences for apprentices.
The digital nature of FLIK has helped to bypass in-person barriers, providing women the opportunity to grow and provide value to female led businesses they apprentice for around the world. FLIK’s solution mirrors the opportunities Ravina sought for herself as a young woman growing up in Alberta, transforming her desire for opportunity into a powerful network of women creating lasting impact.
What’s up next for the FLIK team:
Amongst many impressive accomplishments, Ravina was recently awarded the prestigious Diana Award (in honour of Princess Diana), took first place pitching at Badhouse Ventures’ Pitch Competition, and the team is in the midst of evolving on their product.
Learn more about FLIK and join their portal, here
Interested in hearing more about FLIK and social impact ventures? Cofounder and CEO, Michelle Kwok, will be joining us as a host during entrepreneurship@UBC Immersion Week September 28th to October 2nd on September 29th's panel "Doing Business While Doing Good" ! Register to attend and RSVP for the session on our agenda page.