Business & Startups

Spotting Opportunities; The Startup Journey of Catherine Mandungu | The Startup Magazine

Catherine Mandungu is the founder of Think RevOps, a company that began as the pandemic was brewing. She realised the revenue operations market was booming, especially within the tech industry, and therefore wanted to explore what is largely an untapped market within the UK and Europe. Finding a foothold in an often-unexplored area is difficult, but Catherine knew she could become a pioneer.

revenue operations

RevOps, or “Revenue Operations”, is a B2B function that uses automation to help teams make the right decisions to grow their business. RevOps brings everyone together, ensuring collaboration, from marketing, sales, service, customer service and finance, and unites all these components with three shared goals.

These goals are.

  • Pricing for better conversion and margin
  • Reducing revenue leakage
  • Using customer data to ensure new revenue opportunities

The tech industry is valued at $1tn in the UK alone, and with an increase in startups and scaleups, this number will only increase. Therefore, RevOps are becoming a necessity, but the lack of talent within the sector is preventing growth. This is the void that Catherine stepped forward into.  Starting and scaling a business means challenges that need to be met, Catherine is open about addressing these.

Overcoming Challenges

1) Finding Clients

Certainly, early on, with no marketing, no partnerships, Catherine did as many online events and networking as possible. Referrals from people and clients who knew her work and were able to recommend her to their network became very important. Although she still gets a lot of referrals from word-of-mouth channels, she is working on doing more around marketing and especially leveraging partnerships.

2) Creating a sustainable business

How did Catherine create a sustainable business, where she wasn’t waiting for the next project? “I didn’t want the uncertainty of being in between projects. So, I created 3 engagement models. A revops-as-a-service model to ensure a revenue every month, transformational projects lasting 3 – 6 months at a fixed project fee, and variable and finally short consulting and coaching engagements.”

3) Communicating over Zoom

Especially due to the pandemic, and having to do everything over zoom, Catherine had to learn how to be as authentic as possible to convey her work  and her passion online. Before each pitch, she spent time understanding her clients and their needs and ensured she could position herself as if she were working in their organisation. After that, it was all about being as animated and vocal as possible!

4) Avoiding Burnout

“When I first started, business started picking up. I worked hard and long hours. Almost 24/7 and I was starting to burn out. Had to take a step back, regroup. I then started thinking about how I could replicate the work I did for scale by creating templates and systems that worked for the industry I was catering.”

Catherine’s Background

As an entrepreneurial figure, Catherine is unique. She was born in Congo, DRC, and then largely raised in the Netherlands by a single mum of four girls. Coming from a working-class background, privilege did not influence Catherine, but rather personal ambition and a desire for a better life. She states her mum is her biggest drive and motivation. Once she decided to move to the UK to study, there was no stopping her, and she has since worked at large companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Adobe.

Working for large corporations was not her long term plan, as she always wanted her own business. Therefore, it seemed natural to move into the tech startup and scaleup space.

With her footsteps as a guide

Strong female figures have influenced Catherine, and she hopes to do the same, by inspiring women to take the leap and invest in themselves. Her aim is to give women more opportunities, and she is doing this by coaching women who want to be great RevOps leaders or who want to get into that space.

Her birthplace of Congo has become a source of influence, with Catherine’s goal being to support talented women in Africa in tech and business. She wants to give fellow women an opportunity to flourish, regardless of where they begin. Currently, she is collaborating with organisations in Africa to provide more RevOps awareness to students and young professionals. She is also working on a platform that will work as an extension of Think RevOps to give women in Africa the chance to work alongside her company, by providing support to companies in the UK and globally.

“Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”

Although 2020 was a slow start, due to the precarious climate of the world, business started picking up towards the end of the year. Fast forwarding to the present day, Catherine was able to grow 241% YoY in 2021, and is projected to grow another 166% YoY in 2022. Her business model is built around RevOps-as-a-Service (RO-aaS), which has allowed her to scale to a monthly recurring revenue of 30K+.

Catherine  has made just over half a million in revenue and projected just over 800K in about 2.5 years. As a 1-woman operation, this is an amazing achievement. So, imagine what Catherine can do when she starts hiring to scale her business…

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