Louise Chunn was laid off her job of editor-in-chief of a major women’s magazine in the UK in 2009. In 2013 she launched welldoing.org and in June 2015 Louise was a participant in Google’s Founders over 50, a pilot program run by Google for Entrepeneurs in London. The program provided networking and mentors for founders over the age of 50. And in November 2015 Lousie was part of Blackbox, a tech accelerator course in Palo Alto, California, where start-ups learn from venture capitalists, established founders and others about the way Silicon Valley operates. The two-week residential programme, sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs, is a hot ticket. She was the only British founder among a group of 19 gathered from all over the world.
Then this happened:
On a crisp Californian day In December, Louise found herself in a hotel conference room in the middle of tech paradise Silicon Valley. In front of here was one of the most influential venture capitalists in the digital stratosphere. Wearing the ubiquitous Silicon Valley uniform of an untucked shirt, jeans and an Apple watch, he nodded sagely while Louise laid out her pitch for a new website. ‘Well,’ she began shakily, ‘we match you with the therapists and counsellors most suited to your needs.’
She braced herself for the inevitable ‘thanks, but no thanks’. After all, what did a 50-something woman know about algorithms and online marketplaces?
Louise was competing against people half her age, pumped with their own youthful brand of audacious confidence and risk-surfing bravado. She could even have been mistaken for one of their mums.
Finally the venture capitalist looked at her cooly and said: ‘Yeah, good idea – could be a unicorn.’
And with those words, he changed her life. A unicorn is tech slang for a business valued at more than $1 billion.
Welldoing.org is a site devoted to mental health, self-development and wellbeing, with its own directory of therapists and counsellors.