Edinburgh Business School’s Silver Scholar, Mónica Camino takes a short break from working on the semi-final business pitch, which she will deliver later this month at the Skyscanner offices, to talk about her career, business education and the competition that can open many doors for a female entrepreneur.

Mónica is one of more than 300 businesswomen who have joined the AccelerateHER community and this year stakes couldn’t be any higher – the winners will go on a market-building trip to meet industry leaders, showcase their businesses and potentially attract investment in California and Dubai.

Congratulations on reaching the semi-finals! You’ve had a very interesting career so far and you’re not only an EBS student but also a Heriot-Watt graduate. How did you get to where you are now?

I first came to Scotland from sunny Spain in 2008 upon completion of an undergraduate degree in Translation and Interpreting in Madrid. I worked as a freelance official translator for about a year when, realising the potential of technologies for my work, I enrolled onto the MSc in Translation and Computer-Assisted Translation Tools at Heriot-Watt University. 

After graduating, I started a translation agency, Angelia Translations, helping clients find the best translators for their projects. I discovered that international students and migrants were struggling to find fast and affordable certified translation services. 

For me living abroad had always been a dream and I couldn’t conceive that it would turn into a nightmare for so many people, so I set out to change this and started my second business, Dialexy. At Dialexy we use the latest advances in AI to build a tool that helps official translators do their work better and faster, in turn clients can access fast and affordable certified translation services. 

It was two long years of research before I could launch my business. Thankfully, Edinburgh Business School awarded me a scholarship, which was part of a £250,000 scholarship scheme launched by EBS to celebrate the School's 25th anniversary. I was lucky because a distance-learning MBA equipped me with many useful tools and I am still able to run my business while studying.  

Why AccelerateHER Awards? What’s at stake?

Investing Women’s AccelerateHER Awards are designed to inspire and support more women-led companies to set up and grow. They provide significant support and networks and give entrants’ businesses exposure they need. 

The Awards are divided in two categories: Ambition and Growth. The former targets businesses at early stages (from idea to up to 3-years trading) and a wide range of industries (from STEM to education). It gives winners access to training, PR support, mentors, conferences, and a combination of cash and in-kind support. 

The latter is targeted at businesses going for growth and that are looking to scale internationally. In addition to the prizes, the Ambition category gives winners access to a trade mission to Dubai and California, where they will be connected with potential financiers and valuable contacts in the industry.

How did you hear about the competition? 

I received news about the competition through two different channels in a matter of days. I first heard about it from Jackie Waring, Investing Women’s CEO and founder. I first met Jackie at an Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce training event for women entrepreneurs. We recently ran into each other at the StartUp Summit and, after a brief catch up, she suggested that I should check out the AccelerateHER. 

Just a few days later, I received information about the competition from Laura Galloway, a lecturer of the Entrepreneurship and Creativity course at EBS, and since we were working on pitching our business ideas anyway, I thought I’d give it a try. 

There are many competitions out there, what was so appealing about AccelerateHER Awards?

The opportunity to join a trade mission to the USA could have a huge impact on Dialexy. One of our main clients are international students, and the USA is the largest international students’ destination in the world.  

I also wanted to reconnect with the business women community in Scotland. I had received so much support in the past from this group and I thought entering the competition and attending the conference would be a perfect opportunity to reconnect with this amazing community.

You’ve reached the semi-final, which is a great achievement. How is the competition structured, what stages have you been through and what’s coming next?

Initially I applied for both categories, Ambition and Growth. For Ambition, we had to submit a 1-3 min video explaining our idea and business plans. 

The second stage was to submit a 2-page business summary. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach the second stage in this category, but they did provide us with some insightful feedback that we can use for future pitches. 

For the Growth category, we had to submit a 3-5 min video explaining our growth plans, provide evidence of our market, explain our business model, introduce the team and provide financial projections for the next 3 years. The second stage is the semi-final, where we currently are, which involves providing a full business plan and a 3-minute pitch to a panel of experts at the Skyscanner offices on February 20th. 

If we are successful (fingers crossed!), we will get to the final on March 8th, which coincides with International Women’s Day. The finalists will be invited to pitch live to a panel of judges at the Ambition and Growth Conference held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh. 

How are you going to prepare? What’s your strategy (without giving away too much detail, of course!).

The first step is always to check what information you have been asked to include in your pitch. In this regard, Investing Women are quite straightforward.

I find there is no better way to prepare for pitching than practising, practising and practising. I usually draft two or three versions and share them with a few people around me (family, friends, co-workers…) to get feedback and refine what I have prepared. 

Then I pitch to people who are not familiar with what I do, for instance, fellow entrepreneurs in our building or MBA classmates, to get their feedback. When I’m happy with my presentation, I check that the pitch is still aligned with the competition requirements and practice more until I have it memorised. 

Finally, I prepare all collateral materials, if relevant, and all potential questions if there is a Q&A. When everything is ready, I do a final rehearsal with a mixed audience to get their final feedback. On this occasion, I am very lucky to have had one of our lecturers arrange a pitching advice session the day before the semi-finals, so I hope to get some last-minute tips from EBS too!

What are your plans for the future?

Short term, we are launching our solution in March, which is a big project in its own. We are also pitching at EIE18 on April 19th to raise investment to continue the development work and grow the team. We are also hoping to attract interest from strategic partners. Long term, we are planning to expand into Europe, starting with France, Spain and Germany and then move to the USA by 2020.

Thank you. We wish you best of luck and we keep our fingers crossed for you!