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[Interview] Felena Hanson, Owner of Hera Hub, Biggest Female Coworking Company

by Ashley Ward Coworking spaces are popping up all over suburban cities like Los Angeles, New York and San Diego. A place for like-minded entrepreneurs, coworking spaces allow individuals to partake in an office-like environment, without the corporate office feel. Entrepreneur and female inspiration Felena Hanson has taken this need and created a space for women to develop their business dreams in the comfort of a spa-like environment, Hera Hub. Hanson explains her inspiration for Hera Hub and future plans of franchising the female-only coworking space in our recent interview with the entrepreneur goddess.

1. What made you choose a spa-like atmosphere for Hera Hub?

Women love the spa.  They hear the word “spa” and they immediately relax.  Most coworking spaces are geared to a digital arts or high-tech audience. Since Hera Hub is female-focused we’ve created a space that is beautiful, comfortable and feminine, (spa-like) yet at the same time keeping it professional. Our distinctly unique touches include soft lighting, tranquil fountains, candles and relaxing music.

2. Do you think being an only child for nine years has influenced your drive to create Hera Hub?

Because I was an only child I had to be very imaginative. When I wasn’t in school or doing chores I often came up with all kinds of games to play with my imaginary friends. That creative, unstructured play time allowed me to become comfortable by myself and very independent. At the same time, I’m an extrovert.  I greatly enjoy the time I spend with family, friends and coworkers. I attribute much of my drive to my parents.  My father is very entrepreneurial and my mother is creative and artistic.  Their different influences and personalities have come into play when developing the concept of Hera Hub.

3. What inspired you to develop Hera Hub as a franchise?

I wanted to build something that was bigger than myself.  In my prior business (doing marketing strategy consulting for small businesses) I was trading time for dollars.  It’s the classic “eMyth” scenario. My current goal with Hera Hub is to support 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business.  I know that I am not the woman to lead those woman in New York, Dallas, or London.  It’s a woman in that community that is the right person to lead and build a Hera Hub platform for female entrepreneurs in her city.

4. What goes into developing Hera Hub as a franchise?

There are many different factors that have gone into developing Hera Hub as a franchise.  The main factor is thinking systematically.  You have to create an end-to-end operations plan that can be duplicated again and again.  This thinking goes from everything from the software to marketing, to the layout of the spaces.

5. What cities do you plan on expanding the Hera Hub franchise in?

We plan on expanding to 200 locations helping 20,000 women over the next 5 years.  We will expand internationally via a franchise model.  Right now we are focusing our efforts on California, Arizona, Texas, and Nevada.

6. How can someone interested in franchising with Hera Hub get started?

We ask them to first visit our website http://herahubfranchise.com.  From there they will learn about Hera Hub and the process of Franchising.

7. What do you expect to achieve from franchising Hera Hub?

To inspire over 20,000 women internationally to launch and grow their business.

8. How has the Hera Hub brand influenced the idea of franchising?

I decided to franchise the business as I wanted to be sure the brand extension was done elegantly – creating a world-class experience for members, no matter where they work. No two places will be exactly the same, but the functionality and esthetics of the space will stay the same.

9. Where do you see yourself in five years? Any other business ventures or plans in your near future aside from Hera Hub?

In 5 years we hope to have 200 locations servicing 20,000 women.  My passion has always been in education, specifically higher education.  I want reinvent entrepreneurial education for women.  I think it’s important to learn from experience.  You don’t learn how to be an entrepreneur from a book.  I hope to develop a way to help women by creating apprentice type program that focuses on hands-on learning.

10. Where can San Diego locals find you hanging out around town?

Running with my two dogs – Baxter and Baily (rescues from Baja), enjoying wine at Finch’s in La Jolla or hanging at one of the great restaurants in North Park.

11. What are your guilty-pleasures?

Wine and dark chocolate.

12. How do you think our current society reflects women in business?

There is a disparity between women and men in corporations.  Women are greatly outnumbered in the C-suite.   On the other hand… when it comes to entrepreneurship, women are starting business twice as fast as men.  The challenge here is women still aren’t thinking big enough.  The progression I often see is women leaving corporate to start their own business but not creating enough structure and surrounding themselves with the “right” people… those who can support them and challenge them to “think bigger”.

13. How do you think Hera Hub will influence our culture's world view of women in business?

My hope is that Hera Hub will inspire more women to start businesses and to have that “go big or go home” mentality.

14. Do you hope to “change the world” with Hera Hub?

Absolutely.

15. Would you say women are more creative than men when it comes to business? Why?

Often times, yes.  Women are often able to come up with many solutions to a problem.

16. How do you think a woman's approach to business is different than a man’s approach?

Men think more linear, while women typically think more holistically.  Women take an issue and look at it from all sides and think about how they can relate to and help other people.  Often times women are thinking about how their business can give back and help others vs. keeping a keen focus on making money.  Both are important in business…

17. What are the similarities that men and women have when it comes to business?

I believe both men and women are driven and are striving to be successful.  They want to build something of value for their community.

18. What top mistakes do you think every woman makes?

Women often times lack confidence, which leads to them undervaluing themselves.  Many women also don’t think big enough… not taking time to set strategic goals and specific plans.

19. Do you see a future for women in business? Why or why not?

Of course!  I think in general what is going to heal the world is concepts of collaboration, access to education, and the concept of micro-lending.  I hope the next generation will NOT be seeking a JOB but rather move towards creating something of value and not relying on the system.

20. Do you think more women are indulging more into the world of business, versus the stay-at-home housewife? Why?

For many, it’s not an either-or… many women want to have it all… children and career.  Technology and the movement towards independent work make this more possible than ever.   Ashley Ward is an online marketer specializing in developing marketing strategies for start-up businesses. Her experience and background ranges from journalism and blogging, to social media specialist and event coordinator.  You can follow her on Twitter.      

This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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