Female Founder Focus: Victoria Holyoak, c-sectionuk

Here at the Digital Greenhouse, we're proud to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women leading the way in the entrepreneurial landscape. In our "Female Founder Focus" series, we delve into the inspiring stories of these trailblazers, showcasing their journeys, the challenges they've overcome, and the invaluable insights they've learned along the way.


We'd like to introduce you to Midwife Victoria Holyoak, Founder of c-sectionUK. c-sectionuk was created as a solution to the problems and gaps in c-section information that women face. They're on a mission to improve women’s health through education – one birth at a time.

We met Vic at 2023's Guernsey Venture Challenge, where she took home joint first prize. She is a member of the Digital Greenhouse coworking space and joined us at Showcase Guernsey in London in 2023 to present her business to global investors and partners, and won the Entrepreneur for Good Award at the 2023 Véyaon Awards! We caught up with Vic to hear about her journey in the world of women's health.

Q. Tell us all about your business! What is your origin story, and the highlights of your entrepreneurial journey? 

c-sectionuk is the award-winning digital c-section education platform. We provide midwife-led education through our courses community and private sessions to the 270,000 women who are having c-section births every year who are looking for answers to their questions that often leave them feeling confused, anxious and isolated. 
After a decade dedicated to clinical midwifery and private antenatal education, I spotted a huge gap in the market for soon-to-be mums and wholeheartedly felt compelled to help women who were navigating c-section birth with practical steps and knowledge. We very quickly grew to a team of six, committed to improving women's health care and knowledge around birth choices.
A particular turning point for the company was being involved in the Guernsey Venture Challenge, supported by The Digital Greenhouse. This gave us access to Blenheim Chalcot and our fantastic mentor Sam Gibbs, who helped us think strategically about the growth of c-sectionuk. After several weeks, we pitched to a panel of four alongside eight start-ups, and were fortunate enough to win, affording us crucial financial support as well as six months of ongoing mentorship. 
Some of the smaller moments, such as heartfelt messages of thanks from women, and emails of support have been particularly touching, and have helped us remain focused on our original mission - to place women and their health at the heart of everything that we do. 

Q. Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, what has been the most significant challenge you have overcome, and how did you navigate it?

Every week is different as an entrepreneur, and to be truthful there's a lot of learning on the job. I think the challenge is managing yourself as an entrepreneur, as you take on multiple roles at once and have to both be courageous enough to lead and strike out, trying new and different things, but also have the humility to recognise when something isn't going well and re-divert your energy elsewhere.
Put simply, there's a lot of picking yourself up and dusting yourself down. I have definitely built a level of resilience. It's well-recognised that entrepreneurship is still largely male-dominated. I knew this before entering into this world but that doesn't stop me from feeling challenged, with the occasional bout of imposter syndrome. I am reminded every day by women who email, or message us to say how life-changing our c-section support network is to keep going. 

Q. As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, have you encountered any unique challenges or biases? If so, how have you addressed them, and what advice would you give to other women facing similar situations?

Sometimes it's the incredibly subtle feeling of being the odd one out in a room that can throw you off. I've sat in rooms and I've been part of pitches that are largely male-dominated, and it used to get to me an awful lot. I'd often get inside my own head, and over-explain the company concept. With time and growth, I've become more confident in our progression as a company.

To anyone starting their journey as an entrepreneur, acutely aware that you are the only female in a room, I'd offer a huge amount of reassurance. That need to over-explain will ease with time and practice, and you'll grow in confidence. 

Q. Who are your female role models in the business/ tech industry?

Victoria Prew of Hurr is a particularly key role model for me. I think any female entrepreneur solving a problem for women should consider every angle that leans in and supports women's lives. Prew has both solved the problem of fast fashion, whilst also providing a way for women to make money from home, which supports the female economy overall.

At c-sectionuk, we're really trying to mimic this, affording opportunities for people to work from home and around childcare, which can be two huge barriers to entry into working life for women.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs who are hesitant to take the first step?

Reach out to another woman who have made the leap. No matter how small or big their company is, they have likely gone through the same thoughts and feelings that you will also find challenging. Just having someone else in your corner, that's relatable and that you can bounce ideas off can be really helpful. 

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