Natalie Doran sits in a chair, talking into a microphone. She has long blonds hair and is wearing a checkered skirt and black blouse.

Natalie Doran: Founder of Timefly and Co-Founder of Hourvillage

The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Natalie Doran to discuss the role of women in innovation. Get involved at She Innovates Global.  

#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?

Natalie Doran: Time. There are never enough hours in the day. We can’t buy any more, and when you’re out, you’re out. So why do we waste it? We founded Hourvillage to create a global sharing economy in which anyone, anywhere can add value by having real, offline experiences. Through our P2P time-exchange application, Hourvillage; and our B2B solution for Corporate Social Responsibility, Timefly, we are tackling social inequality by incentivizing all people to give their time.

#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?

ND: Signing on the dotted line for our first corporate client, I realized just how powerful our ecosystem will be. Corporations are listening. They are investing in employee engagement that is building a healthier company culture and more sustainable business, through Timefly.

I realized that the data from our platforms will generate exciting new insights into local needs and global progress.  

#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?

ND: Ironically, timing. When I conceptualized Timefly, I was broke and working in a startup that was quickly sinking. After a year of building wireframes and partnerships, I struggled to fundraise and almost gave up. I serendipitously met Andy, Founder of Hourvillage, who had the opposite challenge—he had funding but needed a co-founder to develop the platform. We quickly realized that, together, we could solve the same problem with double the impact.

#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?

ND: When I turn on the news or sit in a restaurant full of phone screens, I think, “we’re fixing that.” The core of our platform is connection. When we give time to a charity or a neighbor, we feel invigorated and in touch with our community. Seeing the growing social need on a daily basis, drives me to overcome every challenge. In these turbulent times, we all need greater empathy and conversations with strangers.

#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?

ND: We assume that because we are younger and less experienced, our ideas hold less weight—they don’t—they hold more! The world is changing and millennial ethics are dominating consumerism. You can save the world and run a real business. I hope young women will use our platforms to find great mentors and experiment with passions to find that spark of innovation.

#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?

ND: Innovation can shape everything from popular culture to healthcare, and the people behind these businesses set the parameters of our new normal. Female innovators not only ensure our voices are heard, they can also reshape traditional roles to allow more women to work at the coalface of emerging technologies.

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Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.