About the Startup Women Advocacy Network (SWAN)
There is a lack of awareness and storytelling of early-stage, woman-identifying entrepreneurs in Canada. As a national convener and staying true to our core values, we want to connect entrepreneurs with the support they need to help tackle this gap.
Thus, we created the Startup Women Advocacy Network (SWAN), a network of 13 early-stage, woman-identifying entrepreneurs from each province and territory to champion the needs of women entrepreneurship throughout the whole year. SWAN members can amplify their business through our platforms and are given exclusive opportunities to have a seat at important government roundtables and other events that are crucial to creating change.
This is just the beginning. The hope behind SWAN is to create an ever-growing network of champions in each Canadian province and territory to ultimately increase the visibility and voice of early-stage, woman-identifying entrepreneurs.
Meet Jessica McNaughton, SWAN representative from Saskatchewan
In the spirit of amplifying women entrepreneurs, we will be sitting down with each of our SWAN members to learn more about their founding journeys. Introducing our first member Jessica McNaughton, founder and CEO of memoryKPR from Saskatchewan.
Jessica McNaughton, Founder of memoryKPR technologies, is ensuring we all have a way to collect, craft and protect our memories. She set out to create this solution out of necessity, after having lost someone special, and then lost some important pieces of their social media memories. We all have more habits to capture media than ever before and fewer safe solutions to create and protect our stories for the future. McNaughton is ensuring we have somewhere to keep the most cherished memories for years to come.
Prior to starting memoryKPR she was a C suite exec who spent 25+ years in progressively senior roles in some of Canada’s most respected companies, building high-performance teams and managing transformational change. She jokes to her children often, that she has 3 kids, Jacob, Jakson and memoryKPR.
We’d love to learn a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey towards founding MemoryKPR.
I grew up with 2 entrepreneur parents who encouraged me to get a job, with a pension and be safe. I tried my hardest to listen to their advice, but I think deep down inside I always knew I had to do something, someday that was entirely mine. All my life I figured I was just waiting for the right idea to get started. The idea for memoryKPR came primarily out of a personal need. I had lost people and then lost important pieces of media from those people, the recording of my mom’s voice, some of the social media content from my niece and a voice mail from my dad. I knew that I was not the only one who experienced this problem and it inspired me to build a solution.
What has been the most challenging obstacle for you in starting your business? And how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me has been accessing funding. It is a humbling experience to raise capital, especially in the early stages of starting a business. My confidence for the company, product, and the size of the market opportunity is what motivates me to keep going even though it is challenging at times. The other challenge is the consistent self motivation that is required – you can not wallow, or worry for long, even though entrepreneurship can be stressful and lonely. You have to find the fine balance between being your own motivational speaker and your own tough love boss.
What brings you the most joy or excitement in working in your business?
#1. 100 % hands down it’s to hear our customer experiences and the stories that memoryKPR helps them protect. There is really nothing better than knowing your product is actually making a difference in people’s lives.
#2. Our team and how committed they are. Every day, I see how much they wholeheartedly care about our customers.
MemoryKPR allows you to save, store, design, protect, and tell your story. Can you share a favourite memory you’ve been able to capture with MemoryKPR?
I have two – one is a story about my father’s family. We created the story, then shared it with cousins, who shared it with more cousins. We ended up learning so many new things about my father, as some cousins who we had never even met shared the stories they had heard about my dad from their parents. The bonus was that this project connected me to relatives I barely knew that I would now consider close. It was such a unique bond.
My second favourite is a memoryKPR I actively add to for my daughter. This is a private story from me, to her, I love how much of her life and personality I have captured. I also know this is a private space, just for her and I and it is something she will cherish for years to come. I anticipate many years from now she will be sharing it with her children, and grandchildren. I know it’ll be meaningful in the future but it has also been a great way for us to connect without it having to be on social media.
What does being a part of the Startup Women Advocacy Network mean to you?
Being a part of this group of amazing women makes me very proud. Entrepreneurship is incredibly meaningful and satisfying but also very lonely. Having the camaraderie and connection with this group makes it less lonely. I also feel pride representing my province and that I need to speak on behalf of all the hard working fabulous female founders in SK.
In the spirit of advocacy, is there a woman-identifying, early-stage entrepreneur in Saskatchewan that you admire or are following along their entrepreneurial journey?
I am in love with 2 other start ups right now – Pay Trail, working to rid the world of paper receipts and TrailCollectiv, helping families get out and get active. There are also a number of female founders who are further along in their journey like Salon Scale, Coconut Software, Solus Guard, Hyon, and Board Check Up. There are some new to the scene startups that I know are also going to take on the world. I am in awe of all the women I meet, the courage they possess, the compassion and drive they lead with and the willingness to bring each other along. ABSOLUTELY IN AWE!
A lot of the time when founders talk about their journey and their business, they talk about their “why” – why they do what they do. So, we’re interested to know – what is your “why”?
It’s hard to put into words. I know I was put on this earth to make an impact. I also know that there will be a time, in the future, when someone will be listening to their grandmother’s story, in her voice and it will make a profound difference in their life, thanks to memoryKPR.
Is there anything else we haven’t touched on that you would like to share with our community?
There are so many beautiful pieces of culture and history leaving the earth with the people who hold the stories, I just encourage everyone, every culture to consider how you are saving and future proofing your history and stories. Social media is not the tool to protect your history, let alone future proof it. Check out memoryKPR.
If someone wants to get in touch with you or connect with you, where is the best place for them to go?
Feel free to send me an email at jessica.mcnaughton@memoryKPR.com or connect with me on LinkedIn. You can also check out the memoryKPR social accounts. Please follow us and reach out, we’d love to hear from the curious folks out there.
You can learn more about our 2022 Startup Women Advocacy Network at https://www.startupcan.ca/startup-women-advocacy-network-2022/