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The Female Social Network - Startup of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Company: The Female Social Network, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Company Description: TFSN is a network of networks bringing together leading female entrepreneurs running their own business, female business network, and parenting networks. These engaged women influence their individual communities through recommendation and advocacy. TFSN partners these women with brands to help build authentic connections between brands and end consumers.
Nomination Category: Company/Organization Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Startup of the Year - Business Services Industries

Nomination Title: The Female Social Network

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated organization since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words). Begin this section with the date since July 1 2016 on which this organization began operations:

The Female Social Network (TFSN) started active operations in January, 2017, and was founded by Fi Bendall. TFSN is an innovative and disruptive game-changer in the world of digital marketing. It 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 matches brands with these influential women to help them build authentic relationships between brands and consumers.

Fi Bendall conceived of the idea forTFSN in 2016, and had signed up its first clients in early 2017. A pioneer of digital marketing in the UK, Fi has worked in digital marketing for almost 25 years. For the past 15 years she has been at the helm of Bendalls Group, one of Australia’s leading boutique digital marketing agencies.

In the past five years, Bendalls Group has provided social media strategy and ‘influencer’ marketing for corporate clients. Fi noticed influencer marketing often missed the mark because the focus on vanity stats such as likes and follower numbers ignored factors like engagement and authenticity. She observed that campaigns fronted by social media ‘stars’ with big follower numbers rarely translated into strong results for clients. Instead, the best campaigns involved brand advocates who had an organic attachment and engagement with a tight community of followers.

She started TFSN, separate to Bendalls Group, with the aim of remaking ‘influencer’ marketing. Using intellectual property developed with a team of behavioral economists and consumer psychologists, TFSN screens and matches Effective Opinion Leaders (EOL is TFSN’s preferred term to influencer) with brands to achieve partnership campaigns that work. The TFSN process ranks potential EOLs across 900 personality characteristics. This process powers TFSN.

TFSN has achieved rapid growth because its service cuts through for clients. Corporate clients appreciate the results they get from working with Effective Opinion Leaders. Multinational beverages company Diageo Group, Australian women’s gym franchise Fernwood, and children’s toy company Play-Doh have all signed with TFSN since the start of 2017. TFSN is also in talks with two major Australian banks, a major European car maker, and several other national and international brands.

With expansion plans afoot to create a truly international platform, TFSN is attracting interest and backing from investors. It has tripled its initial employee headcount and now has around 30 full-time and part-time employees. Six internships have also been created for young women entering the industry. Revenue has hit the high 7-figure mark too. TFSN has grown its network reach from 4.5 million women to around 10.5 million women as of July 2018. It has also opened an office in New York, alongside its Sydney office, and is looking at further expansion into the UK and Asia.

One of the most significant achievements to date, however, is that TFSN has created an accommodating and friendly workplace for women, especially those returning to work from parenting or balancing work/life demands. TFSN is championing women in its own business as well as women in business more broadly.

Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the nominated company (up to 125 words):

Fi Bendall is a business dynamo. An expert and thought leader in digital innovation and strategy, Fi has worked in digital marketing for almost 25 years. She has embarked on an exciting enterprise in the past two years, bringing her concept for The Female Social Network (TFSN) to fruition. As the founder and CEO of this disruptive digital marketing game-changer, Fi has overseen the prolific growth of TFSN in under two years into a company with high seven-figure revenue and close to 30 employees based in Sydney and New York. She has also retained her position as CEO of boutique digital agency Bendalls Group. She is the winner of several previous Stevies and recently received an Outstanding Leader award from the NSW Business Chamber.

Choose one (even if both apply): The CEO (or other principal manager) of this company is a woman, and at least 40% of the management team is comprised of women.