We’re almost halfway through our #WonderWomen series! Today we’re introducing you to Shalini Khemka, founder and CEO of E2Exchange.
She founded The E2Exchange Group in 2011, leading to a community of around 12,000 entrepreneurs and business people. She is also a Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE) and a judge for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
What does a typical day as CEO of E2Exchange look like?
It varies! It usually involves an early start, getting up at 5:45am. I try to fit in a swim/walk or gym at least three times a week before I go into the office.
Most of my days are spent meeting with entrepreneurs, investors, corporate partners, and a few hours with my team. I fit in admin work around them.
E2E organises weekly events for 25 to 250 people, and we look at 10 - 30 investment opportunities a week. We are a confused.com of entrepreneurship, and therefore I spend a lot of my time connecting founders online and offline to help them grow their companies or to raise financing.
I’m usually attending three to four events per week in the evenings, and sometimes even two events per evening. Managing my time is critical, so where possible I try to arrange telephone or Skype calls by way of a first meeting.
What does your role on the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board entail?
The board meets regularly and the Mayor of London is in attendance at each meeting. As a board we provide feedback and insights on important issues facing London’s economy and the initiatives that the Mayor is working on.
I also participate in selected work streams to promote change in the city. My role sometimes requires me to speak on behalf of the Mayor’s office internationally, particularly in India.
Where do you get your motivation?
I’ve always been a very motivated person, and maybe that’s because my parents were extremely supportive and encouraging. My team at E2E also motivate me and every day I feel inspired, lucky, and motivated by the exceptional entrepreneurs in our community.
I’ve learnt through them all that life is about mind-set and I make a conscious decision to keep a “can do”, “be the best I can be” mind-set. I feel lucky and that seems to bring me luck. We have one life and I remind myself of that often.
What piece of advice would you give an aspiring founder?
I would advise them to try and focus on doing what they really enjoy, to listen carefully, to be laser-focused and super organised in the delivery.
If embarking on something new, it’s critical to invest the time to research the market and understand the competition and be brutally blunt with yourself on expected demand. Equally, keep up with the market and evolve what you are doing accordingly.
Rigour in execution and an eye on cash flow can be the main make-or-break of your business.
And finally, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a very special day for me, perhaps more so this year given that it marks 100 years since women were first given the vote. Following the #MeToo campaign and the numerous pay equality disclosures, I believe International Women’s Day will reach a whole new level of public consciousness in 2018.
It’s an opportunity for women and men to collectively celebrate and recognise women's significant contribution to society and the world. It’s a day of sisterhood and celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women globally.
It’s also a day to remember the importance of educating and investing in girls around the world, the women of tomorrow - especially those in the developing world.
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