How DWEN Helped me Find an Agency Mastermind Group

The following is a guest post from Erin Bury, managing director at Eighty-Eight, a Toronto-based creative communications agency, and a member of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN). Through DWEN, Dell is connecting female entrepreneurs across the globe with networks, sources of capital, knowledge and technology, giving them the power to do more.

group of women from Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network

The success of any entrepreneur is dependent on so many people – their team, their customers, and often most importantly, their support network. Building a company can be lonely, and it’s important to surround yourself with mentors, peers, and supporters who can help you navigate the ups and downs.

I’ve built a strong support network of female entrepreneurs in Toronto, where my communications agency Eighty-Eight is based, but most of them have very different businesses – software platforms, education and training programs, e-commerce brands. Our high-level challenges are the same – how to attract, hire, and retain top talent; how to create and cultivate great company culture; how to balance working in the business with working on the business. But the challenges of a services company are quite unique.

This year at the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco I had the chance to meet several women who also own communications firms – one based in London, one in NYC, one in Copenhagen, and one in Philadelphia. We immediately bonded in one of the unconference sessions, and started chatting about the challenges that are unique to agencies – namely client services, how to adapt your services to emerging trends, when (and how) to scale, and how to differentiate from other agencies in your city. We moved our breakout session chat to the lunch table, and then from the lunch table to that evening’s dinner, and by the end of the event, we’d created an Agency Boss Ladies group on WhatsApp so we could stay in touch.

There’s something amazing about being able to connect with women who innately understand the challenges you’re going through, because they’re experiencing them at the same time – or they have in the past, or they will in future. We’re each in different locations, and each at different stages of our business, but we can connect around a shared experience. Several members of the group are meeting up in NYC in November for an agency mastermind to chat further about the agency business, and if I visit any of these cities I know I have a friend to connect with.

I’ve attended DWEN for the past several years – the only event I missed was the one in Shanghai. And while I’ve met some incredible women over the years, this year was when I feel like I connected with my tribe. At next year’s event hopefully, we can all reconnect in person and share how our businesses have grown over the past year – and reminisce about the low points over a glass of wine.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury is the managing director at Eighty-Eight, a Toronto-based creative communications agency that works with high-growth tech startups and consumer brands including PayPal, Sony Pictures Television, and Telus.

Prior to Eighty-Eight she was the managing editor at startup publication BetaKit, and director of communications at Sprouter, which was acquired by Postmedia in 2011.

Erin is a frequent speaker with Speakers’ Spotlight, writes a monthly column for the Financial Post, and is a tech commentator on CTV News. She has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, and Canadian Business, and was named one of Marketing Magazine’s top 30 Under 30 marketers.

Her claim to fame is being retweeted by Oprah – twice. Find her on Twitter at @erinbury.