Talk Twenties is an online community helping young people navigate the rollercoaster years of their adult life. After catching people’s attention with her pitch, founder Gaby Mendes went on to win the People’s Choice Award at The Pitch 2022 Final.
Starting with a podcast, Talk Twenties’ support has since expanded to newsletters and blog content, covering topics such as finance, career and business, wellbeing and relationships, and adventure and culture.
But it hasn’t always been an easy journey, and many setbacks have led Talk Twenties to become what it is today. We recently spoke with the founder, Gaby Mendes, to discuss her entrepreneurial journey, the challenges she has faced and what the future of the business looks like.
Bridging the gap in between school and adult life
Gaby had the idea for Talk Twenties during her second year of teaching, when her class of sixth form students repeatedly voiced their concerns about adult life following school or university.
With questions varying from managing mental health to the difference between a credit or debit card, Gaby soon realised that navigating adult life was extremely troubling for a lot of people in their late teens and early twenties.
“I just felt like it was a super overwhelming time and universities don’t always cater to answering all these questions. Same with schools – there wasn’t really a platform out there that could address these problems, and provide a community and support system for young people,” says Gaby.
Adapting her business idea
After two years of teaching, Gaby moved into the events industry, where she mainly worked in trade shows and exhibitions. With the initial idea for her business in the back of her mind, she began thinking about an event aimed at twenty-somethings that would provide them with support and advice.
However, when she started planning the event, Gaby was hit with a brick wall: the pandemic. This meant that she would have to pivot her initial business idea to keep the ball rolling.
“Covid put a big spanner in the works, basically. I had to find another way to still communicate my mission and provide support, and that’s when the idea for the podcast came about,” explains Gaby.
Transitioning from personal brand to business brand
The origins of Talk Twenties began with a personal blog. Once it began to build momentum, Gaby realised that it could be a solid foundation for her new business venture.
With insights from her blog, combined with research from friends, family and questionnaires, Gaby transitioned her personal brand into the business brand now known as Talk Twenties. She felt this was an important step to ensure that a variety of experiences from all different backgrounds could be represented, rather than just her own.
“I tried to build a brand that wasn’t just reliant on me as the founder but had a bigger team around it, as it’s not just about me and my experiences. It’s about a whole community of experiences. We have different people from all walks of life on the podcast,” Gaby said.
Growth is important – but it takes time
Just three years after launching, Talk Twenties has shown exceptional growth, with an exciting catalogue of podcast guests and partnerships already in the bag.
And it doesn’t stop there: the team has a lot more plans for the future (which we’ll come to later), but the one problem they’re facing is having enough resources to handle them effectively.
“I’d probably say that the pressure we have is that we have so many ideas, but we’re a small team that can only execute so many of them,” explains Gaby.
“We want to make sure that we are delivering on the things that we’re doing now before adding too many more things to our plate. Our growth is kind of steady, but it also takes time.”
Taking part in The Pitch 2022
Talk Twenties won The Pitch Manchester regional final, which qualified them for The Pitch Final in London. After delivering her pitch to an audience of other exciting startups and investors, Gaby was pleasantly surprised to be named the People’s Choice winner.
She adds that the competition was not only a great PR opportunity and personal experience for her team, but it also gave her validation for her idea.
“It was a chance for us to get out and tell our story of why we’re building a company like this, and also get market feedback and validation that what we’re building is definitely needed.”
Want to see Gaby’s winning pitch and learn what investors had to say? Watch her pitch video here.
Gaby’s advice for budding founders
As a first-time business owner, Gaby’s had her fair share of challenges along her journey. She’s had to learn everything about running a business on her own, whether it’s managing a team, navigating partnerships, dealing with legal documents or handling finances.
Gaby’s advice for those thinking of running their own business? Make sure you develop a strong mindset.
“I think the biggest challenge is being able to have insane resilience and insane belief in the product that you are building. And sometimes that can feel really tricky,” she explains.
“My best friend wrote this on my whiteboard when she was at my house about a year ago and I’ve never rubbed it off to this day. It says: ‘If it were easy everyone would do it’. And I think that pretty much sums it up – because it’s not easy, and that’s why not many people do it.”
Looking into the future
Gaby has big ambitions for the future of Talk Twenties, the main one being to fulfil her original dream of running a large-scale event for twenty-somethings – otherwise known as TwentiesFest.
“We’re launching TwentiesFest in Autumn 2023. That will be a large-scale event, and hopefully the biggest event for twenty-somethings and graduates in the UK. It will help to bring young people together, across all walks of life.
“And then of course, you know, releasing new products as and when the team grows, because Talk Twenties has the capacity to become so many different things.”
Has Gaby’s story inspired you to pitch your business idea to a panel of investors? The Pitch 2023 applications will be opening soon, so make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to find out when you can enter.