Female Founders Series: Lucie Mairychova

Written by
Gabriela Dittrichova
Published on
June 24, 2021

Lucie Mairychova’s mission is to inspire a new generation of young professionals. The non-profit, Karié, which she co-founded, is helping students with their personal and professional development. Her advice to fellow entrepreneurs would be to be flexible and avoid relying strictly on one idea. Read about Lucie’s experience with non-profits and how to help women in the Czech Republic start a business. 

1. What inspired you to start your own business?

Supporting others through education has always been a passion of mine. After having the opportunity to work with underprivileged teenagers through projects in another NGO and designing various career and development programs for them, I felt the best way to pursue my ideas was through my own company. I got together with my good friend and colleague Kateřina Solmaz and we decided to face this challenge together. 

We truly believe in our work and the importance of what we are dealing with. Our mission at Karié is to inspire, inform and support young people in making the right career and educational choices. 

2. Can you give an example of a particular case when you helped a student starting his/her career? What trends do you see with the students you work with? 

Over the past eight years, I have seen many important shifts in students' lives. The most recent was in August when I was invited as one of the keynote speakers at the Youth Summer School in Iceland. However, before the event, I talked about the conference to my students and happily two of them applied for it and were chosen as participants. Moreover, one other student, who hadn’t considered studying outside their country before was inspired to apply internationally thanks to the great atmosphere and culture at the event. It’s remarkable how the exposure to different ways of living and working together can change the outlook of our lives.   

Another example: two years ago, our organisation heavily supported one of our students who was in a very difficult family situation, and would probably not be able to finish their high school. However, thanks to the motivation and support he received in one of our projects, he is now successfully starting his second year at the university.  

The trend I see is that if you just open students' eyes and help them for the first time, after they experience their first development event, project or inspiring conference and meet similarly oriented students, they continue working on themselves without need of more support.

3. What was the biggest lesson you learnt with your start-up? 

I learn something new almost every day, but surely the biggest lessons are yet to come. We are still relatively on the entrepreneurial scene. Having spent one year at the Institut kariéry a rozvoje, z.s., I can admit that I thought it would be easier to get funding, since many people were supporting our idea and the project from the beginning and have always given us very positive feedback. However, I learnt that even if people love your idea, only a few would actually support you financially. 

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, we were forced to change our business model and now we are still in the testing stage to identify our main source of income. From this experience, perhaps the biggest lesson learnt so far, is to be flexible and keep trying testing new ideas and ways of reaching your goals. It's important to let go and pursue the goal, not the idea itself. 

4. What advice would you give to someone planning to start a non-profit / NGO? 

To start something only if you have people who will support your cause. It's also very important to not be alone. The beginnings are very hard with lots of work and difficult days and nights. It’s important to keep in mind that when starting something new, we must focus on pursuing a goal and not necessarily the first few ideas we have. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out from the start. It’s our ability to pivot, change our course and find a new way to achieve our goal when a previous one didn’t. Attachment to certain ideas and ways of working can bring everything down.  

5. How would you comment on the situation of female entrepreneurs in Czechia? 

Today there are many opportunities for female entrepreneurs to get support, be part of some leadership program, a startup accelerator etc. The topic of gender equality is discussed and highly supported by many companies and social groups. Unfortunately, from my experience, despite many opportunities in Prague and big cities, there are only relatively few for those women living in less populated regions - much less those that are widely known. It would be great if there is some new communication channel also supporting women from small cities and villages to become entrepreneurs, NGO leaders, etc. 

6. In your opinion, what is holding women back when starting a business? 

As women, we are more careful by nature, we have less confidence and many of us suffer imposter syndrome. It's great that there exist female-focused mentoring programs where we can freely open ourselves and not be judged. I believe once there will be more positive examples of female entrepreneurs, this will inspire newer generations to face their fears and believe in themselves and their ideas.

Lucie is a source of inspiration, she believes in people’s talents and retains flexibility when unexpected challenges like COVID-19 hit. If you feel inspired by Lucie’s story and want to start a business, join our Startup Challenge and become a successful entrepreneur today.

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