Iman Oubou: Beauty Queen and Scientist Challenging the Status QuoInspiring Stories of Our Owners•Jan 25, 2018• 3 min read
With a diverse, multicultural and multidisciplinary background that spans a variety of fields, Iman’s worldview is centered on championing innovation and changing the status quo.
Crowned Miss New York US in 2015, Iman also holds a Masters degree in biomedical engineering and a Bachelors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She has worked as a cancer research scientist, leading medical missions to developing countries, and is a board member of ‘Mission To Heal,” an NGO based in Washington DC.
Iman launched SWAAY, as an expansion of her popular podcast ‘Entrepreneurs En Vogue’, in October, 2016. Her mission is to spotlight and empower female entrepreneurs who are changing the world one launch at a time.
How did you decide to start your own company? What was the thought process, and what were you doing before?
During my very first pageant, a judge asked me: “if you had to choose between being beautiful or being smart, which would you choose?” That question was carved in my head ever since. It was so astonishing to me that in this day and age, we are still telling women (and young girls) that you have to choose between being either or. That the idea of being multi-dimensional or multi-faceted doesn’t exist…And the more I looked around me the more I realized even the media is guilty of doing that.
Becoming Miss New York was the day it all began for me. The moment I was crowned, I realized that the title allowed me to have a voice and a platform to make a powerful change. So the day after I won the title, I launched my podcast “Entrepreneurs En Vogue” which focused on storytelling and sharing other women’s stories in leadership and the business world. I wanted content that celebrated intelligence while showing the multi-dimensional stories and personalities of these women. To my surprise, it landed on #2 on iTunes for a whole month right after launching and the content of the interviews was really resonating with women around the world.
Seeing that the podcast really did make an impact and helped amplify the voices of women in business, I decided to build a full media brand around the concept of creating a glossy and smart digital publication that speaks to and resonates with the modern female change-maker and trailblazer.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your entrepreneurial journey?
I wish I knew that raising money is a 6 to 8 months process at least, so if you know you will run out of money in September you need to start talking and reaching out to prospective investors around February. I had to bootstrap for a lot longer than I had foreseen which put my company and myself under a lot of stress.
What is your best advice for other entrepreneurs?
Don’t lose sight of your vision but allow yourself to pivot and adapt to the changes in your industry.
What’s next for you and your company?
We have a few exciting expansion plans. We are currently raising our seed round in order for us to scale and reach a bigger audience of women as well as have the ability to cover more female changemakers ‘ news and stories. We are also launching a “Pitch Academy” series in partnership with some amazing brands and coaches to provide aspiring female entrepreneurs with the opportunity to learn and practice pitching their visions and ideas to prospective investors/press and most importantly train them on how to turn these exciting ideas and passions into actual profitable businesses. This will be one of our many interactive and action-oriented experiences and events. We will also be expanding our content into videos and long-form docu-films that will bring to light more female centric stories.