Sheree Rubinstein loved being a corporate lawyer, however along the way she realised very quickly there was an obvious gender gap.
“I knew that being a career-driven woman, who also wanted to be a mum, meant my chances of success were not equal to my male counterparts,” she said.
Rubinstein understood the methodology of entrepreneurship is an incredible pathway for women. To be able to create your own environment and work culture in your own business while solving issues, providing services and products that may not currently exist, and being able to create a setting where women can thrive and act on the challenges.
The first iteration of One Roof was to create hubs that provided spaces for women to build businesses, connect, network, and get all the resources they needed in one place. The new idea was tested as a pop-up in an Airbnb home.
Rubinstein said, “We didn’t have funding for a business premises, or for a 10-year lease, so we used someone’s home from Airbnb in St Kilda and literally turned the home into a pop-up co-working space for five days.”
500 people come through that house in the five days attending programmed networking sessions, individual speaker presentations, workshops, and co-working days.
One Roof continued testing the concept, using under-utilised premises across Melbourne and Sydney. It was located for six months in Rubinstein’s uncle’s house and then for four years in a space earmarked for redevelopment in Melbourne’s Southbank, housing 180 women-led startups and businesses plus a 200-person event space.
When COVID hit, One Roof had to reinvent itself or fail. With the lockdowns in place, businesses were no longer allowed to or were expected to have workers in the office. Rubinstein knew that many businesses were moving from permanent premises-based enterprises to an online situation. One Roof took the plunge and turned to a co-working, community-driven all-in-one platform supporting entrepreneurial women to start, grow and stay in business.
The resources currently available cover virtual networking sessions. Weekly masterclasses are conducted by a whole range of experts from lawyers, accountants, SEO, and marketing experts.
“Our members can book a free call with every single one of those experts,” Rubinstein added. Since the relaunch of the online digital membership version, One Roof has onboarded over 1500 women predominantly around Australia but also globally, and has built an online community of over 35,000 women. One Roof offers two levels of membership, monthly or annual, for women in business, both designed to accommodate different stages of growth. Some women just have an idea, while there are others who have been in business for 10-plus years.
“We have women running different types of businesses from social enterprise, e-commerce, service-based organisations, and more,” Rubinstein said.
“We now have ambassadors all around the country who are running in-person meetups, because as we came out of the pandemic, our members didn’t just want to network online, they also wanted the in-person connection, so we are building up this hybrid model now.”
Many of the members say the most valuable thing they get from One Roof is access to this trusted network that they can call on with a problem or a challenge and ask for advice.