Search past winners/finalists

The Female Social Network - Entrepreneur of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 International Business Awards

Company: The Female Social Network, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Company Description: The Female Social Network (TFSN) is a network of networks bringing together female entrepreneurs, women's business networks, and parenting networks. These engaged women influence their individual communities through recommendation and advocacy. TFSN connects these women to companies looking to build authentic connections between brands and consumers. Fi Bendall is the founder and CEO of TFSN.
Nomination Category: Entrepreneur Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Entrepreneur of the Year - Advertising, Marketing, & Public Relations

Nomination Title: Fi Bendall, Founder

Tell the story about what this nominated entrepreneur has achieved since January 1 2017 (up to 650 words). Describe the impact he or she has had on your organization. Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

The Female Social Network (TFSN) is an innovative and disruptive game-changer in the world of digital marketing. TFSN is a network of networks bringing together female entrepreneurs, women in business, female-focused business groups, and parenting networks. These engaged women influence their communities through recommendation and advocacy. TFSN provides a platform for companies and brands to connect with these influential women to build authentic connections between brands and consumers.

Fi Bendall founded TFSN in late 2016, starting active operations in early 2017. Fi has worked in digital marketing for two decades. She was among the first marketing people in the UK in the 1990s to understand and engage with the internet and all of its potential, lending her passion and intelligence to agency work with clients such as Virgin, Panasonic, and many others. For the past 15 years, she has been at the helm of Bendalls Group, one of Australia’s leading boutique digital marketing agencies. Along with her role at TFSN, Fi is still the CEO of Bendalls Group.

In the past five years, Fi and Bendalls Group became more involved with ‘influencer’ marketing through their work on social media strategy for corporate clients. Fi noticed influencer marketing often missed the mark because there was too much focus on vanity stats such as likes and follower numbers instead of factors like engagement and authenticity.

From Fi’s experience, she could see campaigns fronted by social media ‘stars’ with big follower numbers rarely translated into strong return-on-investment for her clients. Instead, the people who worked best with brands were those who had an organic attachment and engagement with a tight community of followers.

She started TFSN as a new business separate to her agency Bendalls Group with the aim of remaking ‘influencer’ marketing into something with actual influence. Using intellectual property developed with a team of behavioral economists and consumer psychologists, TFSN can screen and match Effective Opinion Leaders (EOL is TFSN’s preferred term to influencer) with brands to achieve partnership campaigns that work for all involved. The TFSN process ranks potential EOLs across 900 personality characteristics. This process is at the heart of the TFSN platform.

TFSN has achieved rapid growth because it provides a product that cuts through for clients. Corporate clients appreciate the results they get from working with selected Effective Opinion Leaders procured through TFSN.

British multinational alcoholic beverages company Diageo Group, Australian women’s gym franchise chain Fernwood, and children’s toy and modeling material company Play-Doh are among the major corporate clients to have signed with TFSN since the start of 2017. Also, TFSN is in talks with two major Australian banks, a major European car maker, and several other national and international brands. TFSN has also managed to grow its network from a potential reach of 4.5 million women, as estimated in July 2017, to around 10.5 million women as of July 2018.

Leveraging her strong reputation with Bendalls Group, Fi has quickly scaled TFSN into a business with offices in Australia and the USA, as well as representation in Canada, the UK, and India. This expansion has seen TFSN grow from a handful of true believers in the Sydney office into an international team striving to build the largest social movement of women in the world for social good.

With expansion plans afoot to create a truly international platform, TFSN is attracting interest and backing from investors. One of the most significant achievements to date, however, is that TFSN has been able to create a workplace that is accommodating and friendly towards women, especially those either returning to work from parenting or balancing work and life demands. This as well as the fact TFSN has so far created six internships for young women to mentor and champion them as they start their careers, shows that TFSN is succeeding at championing women within its business as well as women in business more broadly.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this nominated entrepreneur since the beginning of 2017.

-TFSN opens its office in Sydney, Australia at the start of 2017.
-By the end of 2017, TFSN has an office in New York City.
-TFSN reaches around 10.5 million people through 25 affiliated networks and groups.
-Within 18 months, TFSN has client reps in Australia, India, the UK, and North America.
-TFSN is working with brands including the Diageo Group and Play-Doh.
-TFSN triples its employee count in a year, with around 30 part-time and full-time staff now employed.
-TFSN creates six internships for young women to mentor them as they start their careers.
-TFSN revenues hit high seven figures.
-TFSN creates part-time and career-worthy roles for women with flexible conditions, a salary commensurate with experience, and ongoing career development.
-Founder Fi Bendall wins a regional category in the NSW state business chamber awards as an Outstanding Leader. She has also won numerous Asia-Pacific Stevies this year.