The Next List: Sophia Ruffolo
Sophia Ruffolo is the Co-Founder and CEO of femmebought, an online women’s business directory, community, and education hub that’s meaningfully connecting and inspiring women, giving entrepreneurs the tools required to grow their own businesses.
Femmebought launched in 2018 and already has a digital presence in over four continents and 10 countries, with community hubs in Toronto, Chicago, and Tel Aviv. Through femmebought, Sophia builds bridges, offering real advice where there are gaps. She prides herself on connecting people with the resources and networks needed to launch and scale businesses.
What has your career path been like up to this point?
After 20 years in managing risk for other people I did a 180. I went from curbing other people’s risk to taking my very own calculated risks when I turned my side-hustle passion into an international company.
I spent 20 years as a securities, trust and regulatory lawyer, Chief Compliance Officer and as head of AML and Operational Risk divisions.
It was when I switched into Credit Risk as the Portfolio Manager of the commercial credit portfolio of an international financial institution, I started to see some cool things founders were doing across industries and how they got funding and financing. That’s when I started to teach myself the ins and outs of financing and Venture Capital funding. The rest is history.
How did you know it was time for a change? Was there a defining moment that sparked you into action?
Have you ever said to a friend, “What Would You Do if You Won the Lottery?” I always said I would run a not-for-profit company and help women. Except I never won the lottery, I just did it anyway. I decided to put my money and time towards helping women gain greater economic independence.
Where did you find support and inspiration?
I get support in the most unexpected corners. I get inspiration from you and from every single woman who has decided to take the risk, wake up at 5am to build her side-hustle, go to bed at midnight to finish the agenda for the event she’s hosting tomorrow, all with a vision to becoming her own CEO. That’s what inspires and empowers me.
What was your biggest challenge in changing direction or starting something new?
I have always taken the road less travelled. I have an unnatural love for change and challenge. I changed disciplines at one of the largest law firms in the world, which is unheard of.
The biggest challenge was mindset. Thinking of myself as a CEO. Being a leader 24/7. From finding a peer network to remembering that as a start-up we’re completely agile. If something doesn’t work, I get to change it immediately.
What advice would you give to other women that feel stuck in their current situation?
Self-care is critically important otherwise it can become unhealthy and very draining. Build a network of people who give you positive energy. Surround yourself with people are genuine and make you feel good about yourself.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'! Audrey Hepburn.
What are you reading, listening to, who are you following?
I’m always re-reading Venture Deals. It’s everything founders needs to get started on the funding journey.
What’s NEXT for you?
femmebought being the next google and facebook combined!!
Look for Sophia here:
In addition to her work for femmebought, Sophia also champions diversity and inclusion, especially for underserved populations. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Metropolitan Family Services, a social and legal services organization servicing 90,000 families in the Chicagoland area.
Sophia is also a leader in pro bono legal services. She led the team that provided first-of-its-kind pro bono legal services to Pro Bono Ontario and a North American program for asylum seekers get the necessary legal support they need. Sophia has been invited as a speaker to the at the 6th National Pro Bono Conference in Canada and was interviewed for an article about the topic in the legal journal Lexpert.