Advice from a CEO: Using innovation and leadership to create and maintain a successful startup

Meet Heather Mason (CEO and founder of Caspian Agency) and learn her insider tips for balancing life as a female leader as well as what she learned on her path to creating a successful startup company.

Heather Mason founded Caspian on the principle of adding strategy and positive social innovation to the industry of event planning. To do this, she viewed event planning from the side of the clientele, allowing her to realize that the industry needed a change. She has implemented these changes through her event planning agency: Caspian. Caspian organizes events and handles all of the various details and project management, taking out the legwork for clients. Through strategy and thoughtful planning, Caspian is able to cater an event to the needs of the client, as well as improve overall audience reception.

Heather is a firecracker. Her incredible energy has a way of making everyone in the room feel comfortable and inspired, a quality that is extremely important as a leader. Being a female CEO, she is a firm believer in women’s empowerment. Heather dedicates time to inspire and teach young women who aspire to lead and acquire high-up roles in the business industry. Heather has met with the junior judges for WFF for several years now.

Similarly, she enjoys working with organizations and experts that are devoted to solving global issues. She feels that events can be an initiative towards combating injustice and implementing positive changes all around the world.

Heather is also an INNOVATOR, which along with her management skills makes her an incredible leader. The outbreak of COVID-19 has had disastrous effects on the event industry, causing live events to be canceled for months. While this might deter others, she didn’t see it as a setback, but instead as an opportunity to explore new ideas and expand her company. With no live events, Heather got creative. She saw opportunities to change the way things have always been done. With virtual events, the audience and reach of a company are truly limitless. More people now have the opportunity to attend events virtually since it is as simple as logging in on a laptop, as opposed to going to a physical event. This ultimately means more engagement. More engagement can be equated to more revenue, which she cycles back into Caspian. Events can now be more broad-based, inclusive, and diverse with the growth of virtual events.

Heather finds it difficult to be idle, but this urge to always be moving and creating ties into her success as a businesswoman. Her day begins around 6 or 7 am every morning. During the event with Junior Judges, Heather displayed her schedule. Let’s just say she’s a BUSY woman! Her days typically consist of meetings, developing new business ideas, pitch calls, filming for her online courses, and contract calls. Even with all of this, she also finds time for herself. One of Heather’s CEO “tips” that she swears by are her daily walks, which help her center herself and clear her head.

Aside from these lifestyle tips, Heather also shared her pointers for entrepreneurs:

  • First, gain experience and expertise in your field before launching your own business

  • As a CEO, decide what you want and how you will make it happen, take initiative

  • Always be prepared and organized

  • Be who the client needs you to be

  • Collaborate and work with others and your team

  • While having passion for a subject is good, it is just as important to play on your strengths. Having passion but no experience won’t get you anywhere, no matter how much you love your field.

Along with these tips, Heather also shared her experience starting a company, as well as the hardest parts when taking it from idea to reality. Here’s what she learned:

  • Starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know. She had to learn to price herself accordingly and identify how much profit was necessary to keep herself and her business afloat.

  • She found that women often undervalue themselves.

  • While it may not seem imperative at the beginning, investing in innovation is crucial to a startup.

Mira Soin is a volunteer with the Women Founders Foundation.