Women in Tech: Lucy Ward
Hi Lucy, tell us a bit about yourself and Trouva.
I am the Creative Brand Director of Trouva, the world’s leading marketplace for bricks-and-mortar boutiques.
The ever-evolving retail landscape is a challenge for independent boutiques. These bricks-and-mortar shops have beautiful, curated ranges of products and fantastic offline experiences, but on their own lack the scale and technology to compete with the big players online. Enter Trouva, a multi-channel tech platform specifically for offline retailers which enables everything from live inventory management through to logistics (instant click & collect, 1-hour delivery and worldwide shipping). We’ve even made London deliveries in as little as 25 minutes!
Trouva is essentially giving our amazing UK high street boutiques not just the chance to survive, but also the chance to thrive in the retail landscape of the future.
What were you doing before Trouva?
I have always been passionate about retail and before Trouva I worked on brand-building and creative content sphere as head of marketing, communications and new business at My Beautiful City. It was this experience working with top retailers like John Lewis and Net-a-Porter when I realised I could apply my brand-building experience to a cause I really cared about. Landing the role at Trouva as it launched – with its all-male founding team – is something I am hugely proud of.
In my role I focus on content creation and building the brand, which means I live and breathe all things independent. I believe we are a truly unique company in the way we combine gold-standard customer service, advanced technology and all the attributes of a pioneering startup, but with a real human cause and community at its heart.
Getting involved in Tech is still a hot topic for women, what was the motivation for you?
With a background in traditional retail, I didn’t set out to work in tech but I feel incredibly fortunate that’s where I’ve landed. I’ve learnt so much from Trouva’s incredible tech team, as well as our founder and CTO Alex Loizou. They are extremely process driven and move quickly, which is critical to the success of our business.
What motivates me is empowering the smaller players, our local high street boutique, with technology to help them succeed. It’s very fulfilling to see technology acting as an enabler and, in a number of cases, saving bricks-and-mortar businesses from tough times on the high street.
Getting women involved in tech is something I am hugely passionate about. I think that, whilst there is an increased effort by start-ups and VC's to push for female employees, what needs to happen is to bring girls at a school age closer to technology and programming. The lack of female engineers is a cultural phenomenon that can only change if we focus on our education system. Coding is a language that you can only really hope to master with time. Imagine what the next generation could create and what solutions they could find if we invested in getting all kids to code. So in other words, if I could do it all again I’d definitely pay more attention in maths and technology classes!
How have you found your journey so far and what has been your greatest accomplishment?
Professionally, joining Trouva at launch and growing its customer base from 0 to 60,000 is something I’m hugely proud of. We were also recently named Hottest Retail Start-up in Europe at the TechCrunch Europas Awards – which is no mean feat.
On a more personal level, I'm part of ALT (Ambitious Ladies in Tech) a programme by LocalGlobe. My ALT mentors have made me realise things I didn’t even know I needed, like setting goals (6 month / 1-year / 5-year) to make me much more focused on where I’m heading. Shortly I will be able to put my mentee experience into practice as Retail Week has asked me to join its “Be Inspired” campaign. As part of this, I will be acting as an ambassador to help inspire and promote the careers of successful female retail leaders.
What has been the most challenging thing so far?
I’ve found, at times, learning to balance the importance of brand with the financial and quantitative aspects of management challenging. It’s easy to fall head-over-heels in love with a brand like Trouva, especially when meeting boutique owners and hearing all their amazing stories. However, it’s essential that I keep my financial hat on at all times if Trouva is going to help independents on the high street and enable their businesses to thrive.
You’re creating a platform that rivals the likes of Amazon. What has that process been like for you?
The journey, like for all start-ups, has been one of highs and lows. It’s vital to retain a positive attitude and always keep testing initiatives. As part of a fast-growing start-up, I’ve had to be flexible and find a way to get things done even when it seems impossible. Keeping the values and mission of the business at the forefront of everything I do also helps to keep focused.
Who are your target audience?
Our audience is made up of people who love products that are more special and distinctive than the norm. They are typically women, aged 25-40, middle-class, new home owners or long term renters, majority UK but also increasingly international (US, Australia and Asia). Trouva receives millions of unique visitors per year.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs who are stuck on an idea?
Don’t let the strive for perfection keep you from finishing things and understand that it’s ok to fail as long you learn from it. In other words, get your idea going; don’t sit around and don’t wait for someone else to get there first!
What plans do you have for Trouva in the coming 12 months?
Where do we begin? Our vision is to build an independent future where local boutiques thrive online and offline. Using technology, we plan to totally overhaul the way people shop from independents and encourage more and more people to support smaller shops, not just the big chains and online retailers. Finding and uncovering more inspirational independents to become part of our community is a big focus for us in the upcoming months.
Overview of how Trouva works:
Trouva is the world’s leading marketplace for independent bricks-and-mortar shops, offering a distinctive range of homeware and accessories from over 300 shops in over 30 towns and cities, for 1 hour delivery, click & collect and worldwide shipping.
We’ve built a multi-channel tech platform specifically for offline retailers which enables everything from live inventory management through to logistics (instant click & collect, 1 hour delivery and worldwide shipping).
Trouva utilises our proprietary technology platform to enable independent shops to sell online. The technology platform is broken down in the following components: line inventory management, marketing, logistics, customer support and analytics.
Because the technology of working with bricks-and-mortar independents is so hard to crack, we are the only significant marketplace of scale working with these types of independent lifestyle shops.