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Meet Erica Surace: Founder of the D2 Collective, the company fostering meaningful connections in the tech world!

Hello Erica! We’re thrilled to be chatting with you today at FEM-START. Could you share what sparked your entrepreneurial journey and the motivation behind launching The D2 Collective?

The backstory to founding The D2 Collective is quite interesting. I began my career in tech sales at Linkedin in Dublin during my early 20s, where I met my co-founder Nastie. Dublin, being the tech hub of Europe, provided a dynamic environment with major players like Google and Meta. The idea for The D2 Collective emerged during the tech layoffs amid the pandemic. Nastie and I wanted to export the sense of community we experienced in Dublin to Amsterdam, fostering meaningful connections within the tech industry. We embarked on building The D2 Collective 15 months ago—a membership community for tech professionals. Hosting diverse events and facilitating interactions within our community platform became our forte. We’ve now grown to 3000 members, organizing 80 events with over 5000 attendees across London, Amsterdam, Milan, Barcelona, and Dublin. Quality and genuine connections are at the core of our events.

Can you highlight some key steps and strategies you employed to kickstart The D2 Collective?

Leveraging our network was monumental. Starting with individuals we knew and reaching out individually, especially through Linkedin, laid the foundation. Sharing your mission with as many people as possible is crucial for early-stage founders. Interestingly, we had little to no marketing budget, and our members largely came through referrals or inbound via Linkedin. Creating compelling content played a crucial role, proving that a substantial marketing budget isn’t always a prerequisite. We began locally in Amsterdam and gradually expanded our focus to other cities. You can find us in various cities now!

How did you manage to build and grow your customer base?

Our customer base comprises B2B companies seeking exposure to our community and B2C, which are our community members. Staying consistent with our values and aligning our content with them was key. Communicating our offerings through an adjusted marketing strategy helped grow our B2C customer base. For corporate partnerships, being a value-based company and providing quality and consistency attracted the right stakeholders. Consistency in terms of vision, mission, and values is vital in building a customer base that aligns with our goals.

Reflecting on your journey, what were some significant mistakes, and what lessons did you learn from them?

One early challenge was the frustration stemming from not being taken seriously as entrepreneurs. Acknowledging and confidently communicating our vision could have mitigated this. Another mistake was not monetizing for the first year. Realizing the need to put a price on the value we provided, we introduced sponsor charges, emphasizing the importance of assigning value to our offerings. Building a sustainable business model requires a balance between membership and corporate clients.

What stands out as your biggest achievement since founding The D2 Collective?

Building a successful business alongside my best friend and co-founder, Nastie, is my proudest achievement. Additionally, reaching a point where tech leaders recognize and mention The D2 Collective independently is truly rewarding. The transition from being the storyteller to having others share our story is a significant milestone for us at the D2 Collective.

What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs, particularly those who do not believe they can do it?

Embrace the challenges. Recognize that navigating male-dominated environments can be uncomfortable, but it’s in these moments that your strength grows, allowing you to make positive changes. In tech, where the gender gap persists, fostering inclusivity is crucial. At The D2 Collective, we prioritize creating events that are open, diverse, and inclusive, ensuring that everyone feels welcome.

What’s next for The D2 Collective? Anything we can look forward to?

Excitingly, there are numerous events lined up for the new year, including a talk by the CEO of Microsoft Netherlands, a truly inspiring woman. As a company, we’re eager to collaborate with new partners and continue expanding our community. Each endeavour today serves as a stepping stone for the next phase of The D2 Collective’s growth.

If you want to know more about Erica’s company The D2 Collective, click here!

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