Barclays Black Founder Accelerator:


Oliss Founder Virginie Bourhis tells us why she joined the Barclays Black Founder Accelerator.

Tell us about Oliss.

I have spent the past 11+ years working in Marketing, agency-side, servicing a mixture of blue chip and Fortune 500 clients such as Volvo, Dulux, Heineken, Nike, Google, etc. I delivered brand strategy, launched products and brands; on top of advising C-Suite on their marketing strategies. My role has always been about developing relationships and developing sales strategies.

I founded Oliss in the midst of the global pandemic back in April 2020, to create an inclusive space where everyone can learn and share from the comfort of their home.

Why did you join the Barclays Black Founder Accelerator?

My reasons for applying to Barclays Black Fonder were to find support and advice to grow my business, having an advisor who could be there to lean on when needed, connect with other Black founders and grow my network.

What would be your desired outcome from this programme?

  • Have a growth plan
  • Find a mentor that I can connect with long term
  • Build a network of fellow entrepreneurs.

Which entrepreneur inspires you the most and why?

Anne Boden from Sterling Bank. She had the tenacity to start a bank in a predominantly male industry. She had to face a lot of hoops and stayed focus on her vision.

What has been your biggest win in your entrepreneurial journey?

I learnt that I cannot do it all and that you need to re-prioritise and re-jig every day.

And your biggest challenge?

Finding the time to plan my vision for the business with key milestones and steps to achieve it.

Where did you go for business advice and how did it help you?

I tapped into friends and past colleagues. I think it has been helpful but I need people around who could help with pushing my business forward from experience.

What drives you to make your business a success?

The teachers who I recruit who loves teaching and the consumers feeling at ease talking about their personal journey during the class. To summarise, teachers and consumers are my drive as I am trying to make Oliss a platform which benefit both so when they have a great time there and enjoy themselves I am feeling like I need to do more and more.

What advice would you give other founders thinking about starting their own business?

Every mistake is a learning, you learn so much from your mistake and that should drive you to do more. Keep on going when you feel down and hopeless, it's ok not to be ok so find schedule time for self care - it is important.

Why did you want to start your business?

Because I love helping people and bring in people together. Oliss is what my passion translated into.

What do you do to relax when not working?

Go for a walk with dog Jax, listen to Today in Focus by the Guardian and cooking.

How has covid made you pivot your business?

It started my business!

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