Q1 2020

Sometimes ripples which disturb a pond go a little bit further than the edges and end up making quite a splash on dry land. Some people create a stir with not only their businesses, but also life itself – Rebecca Lodge is one. An unconventional success story, Becky Lodge is the product of a challenging background. She is not a woman who has shattered glass ceilings via any conventional trajectory or route to the boardroom. She does not hail from a privileged background encompassing elite schools, multiple degrees from top universities and old money. She’s had to fight harder than most to find her voice and make it heard. Born in inner city Leicester in 1971, she grew up in a house which lacked central heating and carpets and took her first job at 15-years-old, washing up in a Chinese restaurant. Becky, who loved school and was driven to learn – an early portent of what was to come – later worked as a waitress and in bars whilst studying for a BA Hons Creative Arts, later qualifying with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Becky’s career spans a mixture of roles in different sectors. Each job proved a catalyst for building skills and confidence, which led to her developing that drive which she applies to every venture. Her first job, aged 21, was selling cars, and she worked her way up from telesales to director level. She has worked for brands such as Ferrari, Carlsberg and Disney, yet the latter part of her career has been strongly focused on business-to-business support and development. Enabling STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) businesses to get ahead taps into her experience of radio broadcast software, engineering infrastructure and built environment, and she thinks differently, employing a tireless work ethic when it comes to connecting people and swiftly spotting how connections can be made or opportunities missed by others. So how would she personally sum up how her past has created her present approach? Without hesitation she says: “I see myself as an innovator and future thinker, with many interests. I am Chartered Institute of Marketing qualified and a current sales and marketing lecturer at the Bringing business bounce to entrepreneurs University of Portsmouth Faculty of Business and Law for its undergraduate programme. It’s something I love because it allows me to draw upon nearly three decades in international sales and marketing roles. I’ve been building sales’ pipelines and businesses my whole life.” In 2015, Becky took a ‘leap of faith’ and established Little Kanga Ltd, with the aim of transforming clients’ B2B digital and social media presence and growth by specialising in ‘best in class’ management consultancy. She soon realised there was a niche sector out there, people floundering because they required early stage start-up assistance, as she states frankly ‘often small business owners who had experience being ripped off to some degree’. That led to the social media brand and community ‘StartUp Disruptors’, a brand born in Portsmouth, a natural progression and example of success through organic growth. In four years, from a handful of people meeting in a Portsmouth pub, Becky now manages more than 2,500 online members. Helping those with merely an idea in mind to ‘startup, grow and scale’, StartUp Disruptors provides a peer-to-peer community of supportive and likeminded people, great contacts, coaching, training and advertising for a modest monthly fee. Becky’s aim is for it to become a more online and global offering. Why Portsmouth? Becky explains: “Quite simply because of the unique demographics of deprivation and innovation which co-exist in this city, something of which many people are not aware. I wanted to build an online social media phenomenon for start-ups and small business owners that could become truly global, allowing those with common interests and a similar outlook to connect more easily. “Initially people began with tentative conversations in Portsmouth, but it is all about bringing new ideas and accessibility as suppliers to our wider region and the attention of customers operating nationally and internationally.” When it comes to talking to big brand sponsors or partners and getting them to put their names and backing behind high-profile events, Becky has succeeded where local authorities and other business groups have lagged behind. She has staged Hampshire Meet the Buyer (HMTB) for three consecutive years, cementing its place as the region’s premier event for making B2B connections which have genuinely boosted the regional economy. A popular and hugely successful event, it has drawn genuine support from throughout the regional business community and it is known as the stand out networking event for Portsmouth and the wider southern region. Becky says: “When quality suppliers have crucial conversations with operators who issue contracts, business takes place, or connections are made which lead to future working together. People do not waste time and it brings the whole business life-cycle together. Regardless of national issues, at a local level, business goes on.” Corporate sponsorship and support for StartUp Disruptors and HMTB includes Uber, Fullers, Transmit StartUps, Funding Circle and the mental health charity ‘Mind’; the latter is an organisation which is only too well aware of how entrepreneurs may need ‘help’ to look after their wellbeing on an often stressful journey starting and scaling a business. Never one to shy away from ambitious and innovative solutions, Becky aims to build StartUp Disruptors to 10,000 members in the next five years, using a digital platform and app to facilitate the next stage of business growth to regional, national and international reach. She’s helped mentor 3,000 business owners in the community to date, raising more than £250,000 worth of grant and loan funding. This sort of ‘can-do attitude’ and ability to reach out to various tribes led to her being named one of Sky News 100 Women in Business and she was selected from 10,000+ UK applicants to take part in a gender parity debate around female leadership in 2017 and share a message of ‘belief in parity, inclusion and diversity, because they help build outstanding businesses’.