An interview with Catherine Mandungu, Founder of Think RevOps
Extraordinary women from across the country have been unveiled as the 2023 finalists in the everywoman Entrepreneur Awards, UK’s longest-running recognition programme for female entrepreneurs. One of these amazing women is Catherine Mandungu, Founder and CEO of Think RevOps, who is a finalist in the Small Enterprise Category.
Catherine was born in Congo, and moved around Europe living in different countries, before ending up in the Netherlands, where she was raised. After growing up in the Netherlands, she came over to England, and hasn’t left since!
When studying, her dream was always to work for Microsoft. Luckily, she secured an internship with them, and that is where her journey in revenue operations began. Funnily enough, the career began as a sort of misunderstanding. “I thought I was applying for a finance internship, and they thought I should be in operations. I kind of fell into it at Microsoft, but I’m very thankful for that because I would have never known about this type of role that was perfect for me because it’s so dynamic,” Mandungu reminisced. “It is very much a people job, regardless of it also being a very technical and data-driven job. But it is about the people because you can’t achieve anything, regardless of what you implement around data processes and technology if people don’t do it. So, you need to be very much understanding of how to change behaviours and understanding people’s motivations.”
What is Think RevOps, and what inspired Catherine to start the company?
After Microsoft, Mandungu worked at a plethora of technology companies, before founding Think RevOps just before COVID-19. While this time was tough for many, Mandungu made it through the pandemic with a thriving business. Think RevOps is a revenue operations and data consulting firm. It is devoted to helping businesses worldwide increase profitability and build resilience by scaling their growth. Think RevOps help them achieve this by designing and implementing revenue operations strategies, data and automation innovations with Salesforce, HubSpot and wider CRMs and integrations to increase efficiency and meaningful impact in the customer journey.
2023 has been the year that Think RevOps really started growing. “I was a one-woman operation up until 2022. It was fun and very hard, I was working a three-person job. But this year I hired four people, so now we have five people in the team which is great, and they will help me grow the business. The plan is to grow more.”
So what inspired Mandungu to start the business?
“I fell into commercial operations and loved what I did. I worked with big-tech companies such as Adobe and Microsoft and I found that I was often hired to drive a transformational project. Companies had gone so far in terms of revenue growth and they wanted to scale more. They had aggressive growth projections, and didn't really know how to get there with their current operations. So they would hire me to set that up to ensure they could streamline their operations, build an operations team, or an operations function. I'd come in, do the transformation, and then it was time for me to leave.”
Reflecting on these experiences, Mandungu realised that she had always been more of a consultant even though she was always in full-time work. This, mixed with personal issues she was having at the time, led her to seeing a coach. This ended with her quitting her job, all before she even knew she would start her own business.
What have been the biggest challenges so far?
“I think the challenge for me has been that I've never been an entrepreneur before and I’m figuring this all out. I am figuring out how to grow a consulting business. I am going with what feels right, reading some books, talking to people, seeking mentorship, and learn along the way,” she commented. “I think I’ve done well as a one-woman operation, but I need to shift my mindset from being a solopreneur to actually being a Founder and CEO growing the business with employees. That is probably the biggest challenge for me right now. And part of that is also then figuring out what kind of leader I actually want to be.”
On the flip side, what have been some of the biggest highlights?
“The biggest highlight has been freedom,” Mandungu beamed. “The other highlight is that being an entrepreneur, and deciding to stick with it, really challenges you as a person. It requires me to figure out how do I extract those qualities and characteristics in me that allow me to be a great entrepreneur, because success is your own definition. That self growth is a highlight for me.”
What does the future hold?
“Right now the business is my baby. And the big plan is to grow this into a £1 million ARR (Annual recurring revenue) business. I want to grow this beyond, but this is my first step. There’s a lot I have to do to grow and scale my business, parts of that is growing my team as well potentially automating parts. Beyond that I’m also working on building an online platform for women in entrepreneurship or climbing the career ladder. Watch this space!”
Mandungu has a bright future ahead, and it will be exciting to see the way Think RevOps will continue to grow and expand.
Mandungu is an extraordinary woman and Startups Magazine wishes her the best of luck at the everywoman Entrepreneur Awards!