HomeInterviewsThe importance of confidence, seizing opportunities and having a support system |...

The importance of confidence, seizing opportunities and having a support system | The story of a young female entrepreneur, Romy Lynch

In 2019, Romy Lynch took part in Y Combinator – the US-born tech startup accelerator that has launched more than 3000 companies. It’s one of the most familiar accelerator names out there and being part of the portfolio is a well-respected accolade on a global level. – especially for European innovators wanting to take on the world. 

Born in Ireland, Romy has been making her presence known in the startup ecosystem. She’s a founder in her twenties and the first Irish woman to take aprt in Y Combinator with her startup, Unflow. Launched in 2022, Unflow is trying to make mobile app development smooth and easy using low-code templates for screens, new features, updates, upselling ads and so forth, and it’s been developed based on Romy’s experience in the States  -where she learned the importance of adaptability and how to know when to pivot. 

We sat down with Romy to learn more about her entrepreneurial story – chatting about her experience as a young female founder, going from Europe to the US, developing Unflow, and all the ins and outs of pivoting, funding and startup realities. 

Can you tell us a bit about your entrepreneurial background – have you always had business in your blood?

I wouldn’t have traditionally considered myself an entrepreneur even though I’ve always been very ambitious. I think this stems from the fact that when I was growing up, I always felt like an entrepreneur was one of those people who could “never work for anyone else” or was always coming up with new ideas which I felt didn’t represent who I was. As I’ve spent time in Silicon Valley and amongst a lot of different entrepreneurs, I’ve realised that there are many types of entrepreneurs – key characteristics being ambitious, determined, not wanting to give up and having a different version of the world that they would like to live in.

Did you have any inspiration/mentor that has helped you along the way? 

I’ve been lucky to have an amazing support system of friends, family and teachers inspiring me and pushing me to do better. In terms of inspiration, I look to the women I’ve seen, alone in the C-Suite and also female founder friends who are further along than me. (like the founders of Localyze) Some communities like Femstreet Y Combinator have been really great for networking and finding inspiration from other founders.

Can you tell us about your experience taking part in Y Combinator?

It was an amazing experience, the partners have a way of giving advice that simultaneously gives you confidence in yourself while seriously questioning everything you’ve done so far and pushing you to do better. Coming from a non-tech background, the network of people I met while there was incredible and as I mentioned above really changed the way I perceived myself as an entrepreneur

You’re now building Unflow – can you tell us about the startup?

Unflow lets anyone create and experiment with native in-app screens, no engineering help required (think onboarding carousels, engaging stories, quizzes, feedback popups). After building other apps, we realised just how complicated mobile app development is. There’s huge potential for growth within the mobile app market and we want to make it easy for companies to do repeatable tasks well without taking up engineering resources. It’s been an incredible journey building Unflow. We have built a really talented core team who work remotely and are distributed around Europe and in the US. We are working with some fantastic early customers to help them improve their mobile app experience for users, drive adoption and increase retention.

Can you tell us a bit about mobile app development? What does it mean in layman’s terms?

Mobile app development just refers to the engineering processes of building a mobile app. You have a lot of constraints around the platform on which you’re publishing on (AppStore/Google Play) as well as the limited screen size. You have to think about notifications, screens, flows

What are the problems in the industry and how can this impact the mobile app economy?

Mobile app development is quite constrained. There are a lot of clunky processes and it’s difficult for teams to find the time to experiment and test new things. Another of the major challenges is that you’re so dependent on the Apple and Google Play stores. This can really limit how much you experiment and can cause serious problems if Apple decides to reject your app.

How important is this sector for the wider tech space and society?

I think we’ve all been spending more time on our phones (not necessarily a good thing but a trend nonetheless!). Apps are where companies develop rapport with and loyalty among their customers.

What are your future plans for Unflow?

We want a world where no-code merges with real code. Right now you have to make a choice: code everything from scratch or use a no-code solution. No-code solutions are limiting – they tend to break when you need something more unique or custom and while MVPs can be created using no-code, companies mature onto custom-developed projects. Custom development requires a lot of work and upkeep. Once you progress to a full-code solution, you lose a lot of flexibility and ease of experimentation. We’re progressing to larger and larger customers. We want to hire more people – especially engineers to join us on the journey. We’re expanding our business in the US at the moment so it’s a really exciting time.

Can you tell us about pivoting a startup – how do you know when you need to do it and why should it be an option?

It’s very hard to make the decision to pivot your company — when you’ve put a lot of work in there’s a feeling of “sunk cost”. For us, watching Dalton’s pivoting video really helped get perspective. If you have customers, talk to them –find out how much they love the product. And most importantly, ask yourself how you feel in your gut, what’s the path to success with the startup, do you think you’re able to bring it there? If you can, it’s a good idea to take time off to think about it once you’re refreshed.

What about your experience getting investment – especially in the Valley, a notoriously cut-throat, men’s world –  what has it been like as a young woman?

I think it’s improved a lot. I have been lucky enough to have a lot of women mentors and be invited to female founder dinners and events. Honestly, I did a degree in mechanical engineering and then worked in manufacturing, where I was the only woman in my office so my entire career has been in very male-dominated fields. This experience taught me how important it is to be confident in yourself and project that confidence. We still have a very long way to go. There’s still a lot of pattern-matching in the industry so underrepresented founders have a harder time breaking through, which is frustrating.

What is most important to young female entrepreneurs – funding opportunities or mentorships?

Definitely funding opportunities. Silicon Valley and the ecosystem has a lot of advice and mentorship, which is great but at the end of the day to get your business off the ground you need money – especially in tech, engineers are expensive! I also think that the advice and mentorship you’re going to get is going to be much better when the advisor is an investor and has skin in the game. 

What would be your words of advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Just go for it – and don’t be afraid to email people or reach out for advice, a highly personalised email or LinkedIn message will go a long way. Play to your strengths. Discover what you’re good at and double down on it. As a non-coder, I thought my lack of coding experience was a negative but it has actually been positive as it gives me a fresh perspective on everything we are building in the company. Project a lot of confidence, sometimes even more than you feel inside. It will go a long way towards closing sales, getting investment and enticing people to join your company.

Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.

Most Popular