Sheree Rubinstein, CEO and Founder of One Roof left her successful and lucrative career in corporate law motivated to help close the persistent gender gap in entrepreneurship. One Roof’s focus is on growing women-led businesses by providing them with everything they need to thrive under One Roof. At the core of everything they do is community, providing an entire ecosystem to support women at every stage of their business and entrepreneurial journey.
Sheree takes an experimental approach to the One Roof journey, using the platform as her testing ground to try different ideas and ways of supporting women and girls. She has so far attracted over 70 women lead businesses across a range of industries including gaming, tech, health, education, finance, fashion, inbound marketing and recruitment. Passionate about understanding the core needs of members and providing a full suite of support, Sheree recently launched a successful growth accelerator program pilot One Roof PLUS, for women in early stage start ups, run by women entrepreneurs.
How has your background in the legal sector helped you as CEO of One Roof?
I have my career in corporate law to thank for finding an unwavering passion for supporting women. This profound passion emerged from both witnessing and experiencing gender imbalances in the workplace and realising that my chances and opportunities for success are negatively impacted simply because I am a woman.
My background in the legal sector and corporate career laid the foundation for me to understand the type of career and lifestyle I do and don’t want. It helped me to be aware of my strengths and to operate with a high level of professionalism, attention to detail and produce quality work. I forged valuable professional relationships and a strong corporate network during this time. Understanding the law is, of course, hugely valuable when running a business and providing business support to others.
How did you come up with idea of One Roof?
Just over two years ago I was introduced to Gianna Wurzl. We both shared a passion for empowering and supporting women to thrive. We started researching and running focus groups to understand what holds women back in business and entrepreneurship and what they need to overcome those barriers. The result was a concept called One Roof to embody the notion that we will provide everything a female entrepreneur needs to thrive under one roof.
To test this idea we ran a one week pop up in a two story Airbnb mansion in St Kilda. We converted the bedrooms into meeting rooms, the kitchen into a workshop space and the lounge room into a hot-desking area. We had meditation sessions every morning, workshops every afternoon with a different expert and events every evening. In one week 400 people came through the doors and engaged with One Roof. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and we knew were on to something!
What has One Roof achieved so far?
Since then we have continued to test the concept across Australia and the USA. We take short term leases and convert unique and under-utilised properties into buzzing hubs of female entrepreneurship. We have tested the concept and built a community in Melbourne, Sydney, Los Angeles and New York. In the early days we tried to grow too big too quickly, so we have taken a step back and put all the focus of One Roof into our Melbourne space.
Thanks to Central Equity we currently occupy over 1000 square metres of space in Southbank (a few minutes walk from Flinders St Station) and are home to 70 businesses. We have a large event space that can accomodate up to 300 people.
What makes One Roof different?
One Roof is leading a global trend of female centric co-working spaces (Hera Hub in San Diego, The Wing in NYC, WMN in Tel Aviv and Shecosystem in Toronto) where computers, desks, coffee and camaraderie are all under one roof. One Roof provides a place where women can advance personally and professionally, offering:
- Free office hours with experts: investors, lawyers, accountants, R&D specialists, sales and marketing strategists, social media, branding and communications experts
- Weekly mastermind sessions to seek advice on a specific business challenge
- Curated connections to investors, corporates, philanthropists, potential customers and experts
- Weekly Friday wine down from 4:30pm with nibbles and wine
- At least 3 networking events every week
- Opportunities to run focus groups to test and validate member products and services
- Access to speaking engagements and women’s leadership programs
- Yoga, meditation, heath and wellbeing workshops, movie nights and more.
Tell us about some of the great outcomes you have witnessed for female entrepreneurs under One Roof?
We hear the same feedback over and over again from our members. “One Roof is so much more than an office space. It has given me the motivation, confidence, increased productivity access to networks and support I need to accelerate the growth of my business.” Many of our members say there are days where they are ready to give up but they come to One Roof, talk it out with us and our members, get some strategic support and advice and this keeps them going.
- Genovate, a consulting firm specialising in improving gender diversity in the workplace has been able to grow her team, upgrade to a larger office, access speaking opportunities and meet potential new clients all through One Roof.
- Toni Marie-Aston, Founder of 2aT Startup, an innovative and affordable digital and design agency has met many new clients through One Roof introductions, events and the One Roof community.
- The League of Extraordinary Women has been able to host many of their events at One Roof and host test groups to build their latest revolutionary Find your Five idea.
- 4 of our members who are all working on tech businesses met through One Roof and now connect weekly to set goals and hold each other accountable.
- Sonya Stattmann, Success Strategist for Women in Business, hosts her monthly Women in the Arena mastermind at One Roof supporting and leveraging from the One Roof Community.
- Lauren Brown Founder of Nanager, participated in our 3 month One Roof PLUS program. This helped her to take her business to the next level, build a strong professional and corporate network, refine her pitch, gain clarity on the future direction of Nanager and have the confidence and motivation to persist.
What are some of the different projects you work on through One Roof?
The One Roof PLUS program, a 3-month program for early stage female founders to accelerate the growth of their businesses. Accelerator programs are not attracting enough female participation. So we created a program run by female entrepreneurs to support female entrepreneurs and we ran it differently to the norm. Women are looking for a flexible, challenging and nurturing environment where they feel safe and comfortable to be vulnerable, ask questions and share their challenges.
We launched The FBOMB Show a collaboration between 4 different entrepreneurs to release a series of professional YouTube videos interviewing women in business. They have the conversations no-one else is having about what it really takes to run a business.
Corporate Innovation programs, where we are working with women in corporate to design and deliver programs that allow corporates to work from One Roof, connect with the startup community and teach and empower corporate women with an entrepreneurial mindset.
Entrepreneurialism in schools, working with schools to bring students to One Roof, teach entrepreneurialism and enterprising skills and give them real world experience by connecting them to our community.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Every day I am presented with challenges, pushed out of my comfort zone and put in situations that are new and unfamiliar. This is the life of an entrepreneur. I have to learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and get used to constant change. My favourite quote which I have splashed on one of the walls at One Roof is “an entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down”. We constantly feel like we are falling and scrambling to build or fix. Despite the challenges, uncertainty and discomfort, I am doing what I love. I wake up every day excited to grow One Roof and support women.
What are you most proud of?
Leaving my stable, financially secure and highly regarded job at one of Australia’s top law firms and career in corporate law to become an entrepreneur and pursue my passions of supporting women to thrive. I am also proud of unlearning all the structure, rigidity and perfectionism I was taught as a lawyer to become a fast past, test and learn, fail quickly entrepreneur. One of the hardest and best decisions I have made in my career so far. I have never looked back!
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
You will never feel ready. In fact if you feel ready then you have waited too long. If you have an idea then give it a go. Take risks and try something. If you feel uncomfortable and embarrassed about it then it is likely a sign that the time to act is now. As Brene Brown says you can choose courage or comfort. But not both. I encourage all future female leaders to choose courage!
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