Meet Emily Hinks: Founder of Mischief Makers, the company empowering organizations & professionals to collaborate in the work world!

Hey Emily! It’s a pleasure for FEM-START to have this conversation with you. Could you share what inspired you to kick off your entrepreneurial journey with Mischief Makers?

Given my background in theatre, I initially delved into the creative community locally. My curiosity and passion for the industry led me to HyperIsland, where I first studied creative business, and later created and led an experience design program. This experience helped me to hone my skills in facilitation and human-focused design. I then went on to work at Startup Bootcamp where I focused on introducing best practices around collaboration and collective creativity. These experiences were brilliant, but I was frustrated that programs like this were inaccessible to many. I founded Mischief Makers to make Facilitation accessible to everyone.

Starting a business involves crucial steps. What were some essential actions you took to establish Mischief Makers?

In the early days,  I heard a lot about solidifying contracts and agreements, and ensuring our shares and ‘protections’ were in place. While this is crucial for many startups, I personally think it’s equally important to anchor your values and the impact you want to create in the world – and make sure this is aligned with your co-founder or stakeholders. Our seven-year journey highlights the importance of shared perspectives you can always refer back to as a touchstone, to guide your decisions along the way in good times or bad. For us this was using Facilitation as a fuel for good, for fostering inclusion and positive impact. Embracing our values, experimenting, and maintaining a focus on building human relationships has been integral to our success.

Building a customer base is pivotal. How did you manage to grow Mischief Makers and attract clients?

Our emphasis on the quality of our work formed the cornerstone of our growth. Right from the start,, referrals played a significant role. Our client base expanded through recommendations from clients like Netflix, Google, Uber, and Spotify. While our focus on quality remains, we’ve also ventured into scaling and exploring new markets. Even now, 60% of our work comes through referrals, fostering a sense of connection and close, trusted relationships with our clients.

Reflecting on your journey, what are some notable mistakes, and what did you learn from them?

Pressure situations provided invaluable learning experiences. COVID-19 necessitate a global shift. Because we were already running online programs and making remote meetings more human – we were able to adapt our model to meet industry needs quickly. But of course, this massive demand exhausted the team. Seeking support from advisors and implementing coaching empowered our team and allowed Lete and I to focus on supporting them and developing the business. At times Lete and I have been so busy we haven’t taken the time to celebrate and spread the word about our work & impact enough. We’re working on that! We’ve learnt the importance of celebrating achievements and found ways to promote our business that feel authentic.

Since founding Mischief Makers, what would you consider your biggest achievement?

Our enduring relationships with clients, including the United Nations, Nike, and Netflix – their repeat business stands out as a testament to the value and impact of our work. We hold ourselves to such a high standard and this is reflected in their feedback. It shows that our work – really works. As a founder, it’s very cool to see. I’m also really proud that we continue to focus on the bigger mission. We are committed to grassroots charities and local communities and, we give pro bono workshops and offer reduced rates or discounts so we are expanding this accessibility. Lete and I founded Routes In, which is a non-profit focused on creating access for young underrepresented talent to break into the creative industry. We run it a mentorship program with Soho House across Europe; from Amsterdam to Rome, Berlin to Barcelona and Copenhagen…… we’ve proved this can create incredible opportunities for young people to reach their full potential.             .

As a female entrepreneur, what advice do you have for those who may doubt their ability to embark on this journey?

Understanding yourself is key. Embrace your uniqueness and work with it, not against it. Surround yourself with the right people; be it partners, mentors, team mates and advisors. Trust your instincts, tap into your intuition, and challenge societal expectations. The world needs diverse voices to challenge the status quo, so don’t be afraid to stand out.

What’s next for Mischief Makers? Any exciting developments on the horizon?

We’re focused on expanding facilitation as a fuel for good, aligning with our core values. Coming up soon we’ll be introducing our ‘human school’ initiative, a space where facilitators contribute to a better world through  applying their skills to local community and social impact initiatives. With Routes In, we aim to spread human skills such as inclusive conversations, communication, collaboration, and leadership. Scaling in North America and introducing an advanced facilitation course are also on the agenda. Exciting times ahead!

If you want to know more about Emily Hinks‘ company Mischief makers, click here!

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