Faye Whitley is buzzing… and it’s hardly surprising.
Beevive – the company she co-founded in 2019 to help save the world’s pollinators – is inspiring an ever-growing community of advocates. And her story of how a chance encounter with an exhausted bee led to the creation of the Original Bee Revival Kit recently won Faye the £25,000 top prize in the first UK DWEN Dream Tech Contest organised by Dell Technologies.
“I was already a member of the Dell Women‘s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN), and had followed the US version of the Contest the year before. It was amazing to watch. And so when the email came through about the 2021 UK Dream Tech Contest I decided to give it a go and wrote the entry in my lunch break. I was thrilled to be told I’d reached the final five and the judges loved my idea.”
As a business concept Beevive is about as niche as it gets. At the heart of the expanding product range is a kit that provides emergency food syrup to revive an exhausted bee when there are no flowers nearby. The tiny bottle is attached to a key ring with the option for laser-engraved personalisation. All assembled by Faye, her partner and co-founder Jake, and their team of two.
Perhaps understandably, in the beginning Faye encountered a degree of scepticism about how she was going to bring such a unique product to life. But she was determined that this would work out.
“Previously I had set up my own clothing company [Faye trained in fashion design at university], which did very well very quickly; and it scared me, because I had a full-time job. So I decided I wasn’t ready to set up a business. This time, when we had the idea for Beevive, I thought, ‘no I am not letting it go’. I did that before and I regretted it.”
To develop the kit’s prototype, Faye and Jake invested all the money they had and turned to crowd funding for further financial backing.
“From the very beginning we wanted Beevive to be a community. And we weren’t going to be able to do that if people didn’t like or understand what we were trying to set up,” explains Faye. We went to Crowdfunder primarily to create this audience, and secondly for the money to make it happen. It was an all or nothing scenario.”
When the contest’s shortlisted entries went to public vote, and Beevive came out on top, Faye says a big part of winning was the realisation that the community she had always wanted was actually out there – and gunning for the business’s success. “It was a real tick of validation that we are on the right path.”
Teched-up for success
Just as important as engendering public support, has been the role that technology has played in this small business’s journey.
“To be in business now you have to surround yourself with technology,” says Faye, who together with Jake did all the original sampling and designing process using a 3D printer that they put together from a kit.
Now, following guidance from a Dell Technologies Advisor on how best to invest the £25,000 prize, Faye is confident that Beevive is future proof.
“The Bee Revival Kit wasn’t designed in an office. So we opted for the two-in-one laptop that can sit on a desk, but also fold up into a tablet. It comes with a pen, so we can take it out and draw our thoughts, feelings and designs down wherever we feel most inspired.
“Winning has essentially enabled us to equip five working desks. We are secure, we have enough storage and we have enough speed. Already I am fascinated with the mouse. It’s so fast!”
And when Faye is giving her time freely to schools and other businesses, spreading the word about the importance of helping the world’s pollinators via webinars on Zoom, she is looking forward to the enhanced microphone and webcam capabilities of the new set up.
“I don’t know what it looks like right now when I am on a large-scale classroom screen. The new technology will give me more confidence in the future to host more of these online.”
Join the DWEN global community of women entrepreneurs, investors and advisors here.
Read the Beevive story and view its product range at beevive.com