Entrepreneur, Community builder, and Investor, Déné wears multiple hats. She is always determined to make things happen and inspires others to do the same. Déné is a 2017 alumni member of The Family’s Lion School. That is how she met the women who first joined her community of driven women in tech, now called “L’Essaim.” or the Swarm

Hello Déné 👋 Tell us who you are!

Dénénodji M’Bondjim – Community builder @L’Essaim
Dénénodji uses Clind to share content with her community

I am an entrepreneur, run an Airbnb concierge, and have a side-project to generate additional income: an e-commerce site that sells CBD cannabidiol (a relaxing substance from hemp). The Paris confinement reversed my plans. I didn’t know if I would resume my concierge activity at the end of my quarantine. This particular situation allowed me to see the full opportunity that my side-project represented. Over a year ago, I also created a community of women from the Paris startup ecosystem. I take advantage of this quieter time to grow this community and see what projects can emerge from this group.

What challenges did you face during the Paris lockdown 🔐?

I tried to find the right fit between what I wanted to do and what I could do. I thought about how to adapt my skills to the changing market for long-term projects. My first business taught me a great deal. I put in 1000% of my energy into it, so I was on the verge of burnout. I understood over time that I should not work for my business; it should work for me.

It’s quite counterintuitive, but when the lockdown started, I listened to myself a lot. In the beginning, I did absolutely nothing then gradually to give myself the time to understand what it was I really wanted to spend my time on. I gave myself mental space.  My idea was to find new sandboxes to experiment in and have fun no matter what. This period was an opportunity to test things that we would never do in normal times. 

What did the lockdown change for you 👀?

I became more rational because I tested a lot of new ideas and approaches. I ran my business as if we were never going to be deconfined. E-commerce is booming now, so I make sure that my e-commerce activity took advantage of this trend. 

This particular time allowed me to have calls with people in my industry who would be too busy in normal times. I fed my mind a lot by reading.

What is your favorite book, and why?

There are so many. At the moment, my favorite book is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. I have shared it with my community in Clind. This book helped put things in perspective and pushed me to do things I wouldn’t have done (webinar, virtual party). I realized with this book that anything is possible when you can’t leave your home. It helped me not to question myself too much and go for it.

Do you have a podcast to recommend 🎧?

It’s a tough choice. I don’t know if I should share it because the name is a bit crass, but it’s a French podcast called Les Couilles sur la Table, which translates to the balls on the table in English.

This podcast made me question myself in my role as a woman and my man/woman relationships, especially the one that talks about women in tech. I forgot that women were there at the beginning of IT. It was a female-dominated field, and yet we have the impression that men are at the origin. We must speak differently about the history of this field. 

Cite me an article that you particularly liked recently 📖 ?

I Spent a Year in Space, and I have Tips on Isolation to Share” by astronaut Scott Kelly stood out. He is a retired NASA astronaut and had great advice for the 99.9% of us who had never faced isolation before.

If there is anything else you would like to share? 🙂

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share some topics dear to my heart. I’m very grateful.

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