Meet the Portsmouth entrepreneur helping neurodiverse people on their journey to success

“I started selling when I was 21. I sold cars to make a living. It was like I needed a job and was working my way up through the ranks.

Real Life Neurodiversity, Rebecca Lodge Image: Rebecca Lodge at the Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth on Thursday 15 September 2022 Image: Habibur Rahman

Becky was originally trained by Tesco on the graduate program and has since worked with brands such as Disney and Ferrari.

“After that, I got into radio and ended up as International Sales Director at a US-based radio broadcasting software company,” she says.

“I’ve traveled the world developing software for radio broadcasts.

In 2015, after 25 years in international sales and marketing roles, Becky founded Little Kanga Ltd, an entrepreneurship consultancy serving universities and governments around the world.

Real Life Neurodiversity, Rebecca Lodge Image: Rebecca Lodge at the Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth on Thursday 15 September 2022 Image: Habibur Rahman

“I’ve spent my life building other people’s businesses with a turnover of £100million.

“But what I didn’t really realize, because I’ve always been a top seller and because I was pretty heavily protected in these corporate environments, was that my brain was built differently,” she adds.

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This was the first time Becky began to realize that she was different, or “neurodiverse” — an umbrella term for a whole range of disorders, including autism.

“It didn’t really hit me until I started my own business. I’ve always worked in organizations where sales teams looked and acted like me.

“I just thought that everyone has a life that looks like mine.”

Through her own research, Becky learned that entrepreneurs were 600 percent more likely to have ADD or ADHD, a statistic that intrigued her and inspired her next business.

“Overnight I had gone from something incredibly structured to something that had no structure at all,” she says.

“For someone with a neurodiverse brain like me, this change can be quite difficult.

“What I saw was a lot of very competent people and entrepreneurs who were suffering from a number of things. Some were dyslexic, some had dyspraxia, some had dyscalculia, some had ADHD.’

Becky soon founded her second entrepreneurial initiative, online and digital business support brand StartUp Disruptors – a subscription service helping startups and early-stage business owners, often in the neurodiverse spectrum, in Portsmouth to fund and scale their businesses.

“I don’t want to hear a mother of two being too socially concerned to attend a networking event because she’s afraid of what people think of her,” she says.

“It was fundamentally unacceptable to me.”

Unlike other similar services, Becky has created a real community to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with top-notch business education at a reasonable price.

“We don’t take equity from companies,” says Becky.

“I disagree with taking equity from neurodiverse people who don’t have the business capacity to understand what they are disclosing so early.”

StartUp Disruptors is sponsored and endorsed by a range of well-known, successful organisations, from Uber to the University of Portsmouth Business School.

“We’re basically offering people a nest to test their ideas, see if it has legs, and pop them out when they’re ready to get funding.”

The Becky’s brand has changed the face of business support not just in Portsmouth but across the UK.

“We’ve had a lot of women come up to us and say, ‘I have extra caring responsibilities, I can’t do all the business workshops that I want to go to because they’re 9:00 to 5:00 and I do school operations, parenting …”.

“We’ve had men and women and also people from the LGBTQIA+ community who came and said, ‘There’s nowhere that we feel safe expressing our ideas because people think they’re a little bit out of the way,’ says Becky.

As someone whose brain worked a little differently than everyone else’s, Becky understood the feeling of being ignored and was keen to help change the way business worked.

“For me, with a background in innovation and engineering, it was very progressive, but I found it very pale, masculine and frumpy in the business world, or PMS as I call it,” she laughs.

“We needed more parity, we needed more representation, these people were really talented and they were ignored.”

Becky found that her nerudiversity wasn’t the only challenge she faced in the business world.

“From my point of view, that was only when I came out of the corporate world and saw real life for the first time, trying to start a business and becoming increasingly concerned with the barriers that existed for women. From the funding to being taken seriously and not practically being patted on the head,” she says.

After struggling to get funding, Becky decided to take matters into her own hands — with a little help from social media.

“Nobody would give me money because I’m a woman, even though I had this great idea. I went to all the investment networks and got laughed at,” she says.

“I said to myself, that’s okay, that’s what happened at school, that’s what happened my whole life, but I knew what I wanted to build. I wanted to help these people who no one else has helped.’

Becky and her team got a lot of attention on social media and what started as a bunch of nine “nerds and geeks” in a Portsmouth pub in 2016 grew to 150 members in the first year and today the community has more than 50,000 social media followers. Followers and 2,000 members on Facebook.

Named one of Sky News 100 Women in 2019 from over 10,000 UK applicants, Becky saw potential in digital business enablement rather than outdated male-dominated networking events and didn’t give up on her dream.

“Everyone else who offers business coaching said, ‘I don’t understand why she’s doing this.’

“Then Covid happened and everyone who laughed was on the phone.”

Becky is now the focal point for people in the early stages of entrepreneurship in Portsmouth and the wider Solent region, advocating for women in business and people across the neurodiverse spectrum.

“We have transformed the entire start-up ecosystem in Portsmouth and made Portsmouth the UK’s most entrepreneurial city in 2020.”

“What people need to realize is that your challenges as a neurodiverse person are so great that you need to be able to see around corners, you really need to double down on your vision. No one else will see it because their brains are built differently.”

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