Mentor: Victoria Armstrong
Founder of U-Health, co-founder of Fit2Front, former COO/Director of WhosOnLocation… our first featured mentor of 2019, Victoria Armstrong has quite the resume.
She helped manage the transformation of a startup to a high growth company across 29 countries and has great experience in business building and scaling, not to mention great tips for success in international markets. We spoke to Victoria to find out more about her and why she got involved.
Hey Victoria, could you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m a proud Wellingtonian, wife and mother of two boys (8 and 5), and I guess the term ‘serial entrepreneur’ is the best fit for the rest. I’ve set up three businesses in 15 years in three different industries. It’s the challenge of driving something with a great team where I learn something new every day that fulfils me the most.
What made you want to be involved in Venture Up?
I love going back to the grassroots of startup; there is a pulse to it that’s energising. Also, VU-type programmes were not around when I needed them. There were government support ‘meetings’ with individual experts and I wasn’t shy about tapping into those, however, team learning and the collaborative building of ideas is critical to navigating the startup path. It’s also critical for strengthening the neurons that make us entrepreneurs. I know that now, and love to pass on little nuggets early in young peoples’ journey.
What do you feel you get back from mentoring?
Firstly, it’s the giving that’s the most fulfilling part; clichéd but spot on.
The rest is easy… it’s all about connecting with people; smart and excited people that are perhaps a little fearful too. I love to see ‘a-ha’ moments in some and realise that I’ve played a role at an important time for them.
What are the top 3 things you look for in a team or venture before you commit to mentoring?
Mmmmm… that’s tough…
- That there is good resource in place to support the venture
- I believe in the outcome
- That it’ll be fun!
What’s one question you wish you’d be asked in an interview? And what would your answer be?
Q: What was one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome?
A: In the early ’90s at university, I got paraquat poisoning, which showed itself as eczema from head to toe. It was banned internationally in the 1980s because it killed everything it came into contact with. My old landlady decided to spray her weeds with whatever was on her late husband’s workbench, and the result was 15 months of what looked like full body burns. I had a physical breakdown and bordered an emotional one; the scars still run deep.
The point is that we are the makeup of our experiences – what doesn’t kill you does indeed make you stronger. Life can throw massive challenges at us, and it’s the same as an entrepreneur. But there is always an answer.
So be patient, be strong, be yourself, and you’ll get there in the end.