Charlotte Culina, founder of Urban Helper
27 Jun 2018
Founder: Charlotte Culina
Business Name: The Urban Helper
equallet Business Page: https://equallet.com/listing/the-urban-helper.html
Tells Us About Your Business:
The Urban Helper is an internet platform that helps people get work done using service providers in their own neighborhoods. You can find a huge range of service providers on The Urban Helper, including math tutors, gardeners, plumbers, yoga instructors, house cleaners, beekeepers, massage therapists, errand runners, and more. We stand out from the crowd by encouraging and making super local connections and offering alternative ways to pay. Services can be paid for in cash or one-to-one exchangeable time units called U-Brix.
U-Brix lower the barrier for entry for large populations of underserved people who don’t have a lot of extra money. U-Brix can be exchanged for services from any service provider on The Urban Helper who accepts them. The goal is to help people get work done while strengthening and empowering communities, cutting down on traffic and commute times, and serving populations that are traditionally overlooked by entrepreneurs.
I have always found meaning in helping others. As a child, I was the perpetrator of many random acts of generosity in my community in rural England. One of the most important lessons I learned during that time is that helping people is good for you—throughout my life, doing things for others has gotten me through some troubling times. During my first career as a producer of TV and music videos, and into my life as a mum to two great daughters, I was always toying with the idea of developing a company that somehow helped people—and helped people help other people—in a substantial way.
When I landed on the idea for The Urban Helper, I struggled with confidence in myself. I didn’t have the typical entrepreneur profile—I was a woman, I was middle-aged, I was a mother, I didn’t complete college. Robyn Valdez, a woman I had hired to run the garden program at my kids' elementary school, totally changed my mindset with one small comment. One day, as I hung out in the garden with her, doing bits and bobs and talking her ear off, she looked up at me and said, “Charlotte, have you really no idea of how smart you are?" I responded that I had grown up being told I was pretty stupid actually. She laughed, but it just took that simple interaction to throw off a lifetime of feeling less than other people. So, thanks to her (and a few other important women in my life), here I am at 51, the founder of a tech startup that just launched—a totally self-taught entrepreneur!
What are the 3 biggest tips you would give women:
- As an entrepreneur, be extremely wary of taking advice from people who tell you “that is not the way it is done.” Innovative ideas are, by definition, “not the way it is done.”
- Don’t wait for approval.
- Find yourself a wise woman who sees you for who you are.
Founder Trait I was Born With: non-conformity
Hmmm well I am going to have to say my mother, who I have a great deal of respect for. Not for any specific achievements, nor for her care of me, but because she simply did her best. At 91 she is a living, breathing example of a former time. She was held back in her education and as a single mother in the 1950s she was discriminated against in the workplace. As I examine her life I realize the enormous responsibility I have, not only to myself in the time I have left, but to make sure that my two 14-year-old girls find a balance between their high standards for success and living lives full of joy.
Tell us something few people know: I am a very successful undercover introvert.