Somi Arian is a tech philosopher and the CEO and founder of FemPeak, a platform that aims to raise women’s socioeconomic status through tools, training, and mentorship – supporting women so they can navigate the new business landscape, reach their peak potential and achieve financial empowerment.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I was born and brought up in Iran in a very oppressive society. When I was 23 I came to the UK and studied at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where I earned two master’s degrees in political science and the philosophy of science and technology. After school, I went into television, learned filmmaking, and became a producer. Then I started my own marketing agency, Smart Cookie Media, a modern-day marketing agency for thought leaders, and from there, I raised investment to build the FemPeak platform. FemPeak consists of a space where women can come to learn, network, find new business opportunities, and raise investment, so they can gain financial independence, reach their full potential and thrive. The platform consists of four hubs. At the moment we have built our knowledge hub, where women can attend webinars on different topics with our guiding Sherpanis, like the Sherpas that help you reach the peak of Mount Everest.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
When I looked at the 10 corporations that run the world (5 in the West and 5 in China), I realised that none of them were founded, or even run, by women. When I was writing my book, Career Fear (And how to beat it), I realised that most of my references, at least 90%-95% were written by men. I wanted to know why.
In 2020, I launched the think tank for women in business and technology, a series of conferences with leaders across all industries to find out what factors were holding women back from reaching the top tiers of business and technology. Through the think tank conferences, we discovered six major areas that were holding women back: women’s health, self-confidence, tech skills, leadership & entrepreneurship, family & relationships, and financial skills.
The FemPeak platform was born out of the desire to address these challenges.
How did you achieve awareness?
As I wrote my book on the future of work, I noticed that most of the jobs that were being disrupted due to technology were the ones done mainly by women. For example, repetitive tasks and middle management positions. Whereas, the role of the entrepreneur, the founder, the CEO or CFO, in short, leadership positions seemed to be safe. In our current society, these positions are usually held by men. On a more personal note, I went through a break up where I had to make a choice between my career and my relationship. I chose myself. But at the same time I realised that so many women go through this.
It was certainly a wake up call. I noticed that if nobody did something about it, women were going to be left behind in the new age of technology. That was the catalyst for me to realise, something needed to be done to get more women into these roles now.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Because I have been building my profile in LinkedIn and online for a very long time, I have managed to garner a big following. So, when the idea for FemPeak came, I approached my network. Initially we were backed up by some of my LinkedIn contacts, FemPeak members and Sherpanis, and my personal connnections. This is how we got the initial seed funding, we still do not have VC funding, which is coming up in this next stage of the company.
What are the key successes?
At the moment more than 60,000 women have joined our mailing list, and so far, we have almost 18,000 subscribed to the platform who are actively participating in events. Thousands of people are signing up for webinars daily and over 840 have upgraded to premium membership.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
The way things have played out for humans so far, women have always seemed to be less interested in tech and finance, and definitely invest less than men. This aversion to technology and finances has presented a huge challenge for me, but by educating and encouraging more women to explore these topics to their full extent we have been able to bridge this gap. Our webinars on Blockchain, Web3, and crypto, have certainly been very well received with plenty of women signing up for each session.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Keep growing the FemPeak platform, the next hub coming up is the career hub, which will act as a talent pool. Next, we’ll be building our FemTrade hub, a marketplace for female-led startups to sell their products and services, and after, we’ll be launching our investment network hub. Another area that’s been garnering a lot of attention is the Web3, crypto, blockchain, metaverse space, which I believe is critical to focus on as it seems to be where the future is heading.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
The most important advice I could share is to “Know yourself”
You have to know yourself well enough, to know if the entrepreneurial path is really for you. It is definitely not for everybody, so you must question whether the typical way of life, imposed by our society, feels right for you. For example, the pressure to get married and start a family most women have to endure may sometimes come at the same time when your business is about to take off. You have to know yourself to see what is the right path for you.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
For me, it’s about being so passionate about what you are doing, that no amount of failure will put you off the path to success.
That, and trying to get at least 7h of sleep everyday, and cutting out unnecessary distractions like social media consumption and entertainment like TV shows, films, etc. It has definitely been a game changer.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- Cathie Wood, CEO and CIO of Ark Invest
- Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy
- Ray Dalio, co-chief investment officer of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, since 1985
- Oprah Winfrey
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
The desire for a sense of community is understandable, but to purchase it, at the expense of self-esteem, is to create a new kind of loneliness. – Nathaniel Branden
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?