‘Diversity is integral to business growth’: A Q&A with Bring Me Home founder Jane Kou

Bring Me Home

Bring Me Home founder and chief executive Jane Kou. Source: supplied.

Tell us a bit about Bring Me Home, and why you founded the company?

Bring Me Home is a food rescue app that connects people to discounted, unsold food from cafes and restaurants, which would otherwise be binned. 

I founded Bring Me Home because I saw how bad the food waste situation was, and I knew I had to step up and do something about it to solve the problem on a larger scale. 

What kind of growth have you seen? What have been the big wins for the business?

Growth in the past six months has been steady and strong despite the usual quiet period (lots of people leave the country to travel between November and January). Just this week, we’ve seen a 220% growth in users compared to last month, and achieved the highest sales record in a week.

Other recent big wins would be that Bring Me Home was being featured on Nine News, which got aired nationwide, just right after we had a successful launch event in Sydney.

What challenges have you faced in your journey so far? How have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had in my journey was definitely thriving on limited resources. This is still a challenge for us even though now we’ve been operating for 1.5 years. For early-stage startups (especially those run by women) this is one of the most common problems as well. You need funding to finalise a product, but usually, without a product, you can’t get funding — a classic catch-22 problem.

My approach to overcoming this challenge is that we have a culture of being focused and resourceful, and that we’re not afraid to ask for help. Seeking funding is a part of this challenge, and I’m so blessed to say that we have raised successful pre-seed and seed rounds previously from investors that really believed in us.

How has your role changed as the business has grown? Have you faced new challenges?

I find that nowadays, a lot of my time is no longer spent on doing admin work or nitty-gritty tasks, but more about strategy, leading my team and executing plans.

I definitely feel like I’m facing new challenges every now and then — recruitment and training new staff are among some of the ongoing challenges that I am still working on.

What does diversity mean to you? How have you tried to build this into your business?

‘Diverse’ to me means a wide variety of groups are represented. These represented groups can be of different background, skills and abilities, ethnicity, nationality, gender, et cetera.

I try my best to build diversity into my business via hiring, team building, and communication.

What caused you to take this approach to hiring?

I decided to take this approach in hiring because I strongly believe that diversity plays a huge role in not only growing my company but also growing my team and the individuals within my team.

Working with people who have completely different experiences and backgrounds to you brings so many benefits. It increases creativity in problem-solving and making decisions, leads to higher engagement, and creates a more positive work culture, which in turn, makes the company more attractive to talent.

How have those efforts changed now, compared to the early days?

I’d say not much! We’ve been using the same hiring principles for our first hires and the latest hires.

I’m proud to say we have three teams based in three countries, and all our staffs are from different nationalities. 

Do you have any advice on how White women can support women of colour in business? What makes a good ally?

Based on my experience, White women have been very supportive. In fact, a large number of our investors are White women who were looking to back our cause, and that’s definitely a growing trend within the startup world.

Not just that, but some of our customers, food partners, journalists, staff, and co-workers are also White women who have been very supportive to Bring Me Home and myself as a founder.

My advice would be, support and offer help to those who share the same values, belief, goals, and vision with you. 

This article is part of SmartCompany‘s special IWD 2020 edition. It was commissioned and guest-edited by Culture Amp’s Aubrey Blanche.

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