Katrina German is the Co-Founder and CEO of OneStory, a company (and program) based in Saskatoon that allows its users to share stories in video format, on one platform, with lasting, global impact.
This internationally acclaimed brand making worldly change began as a start-up over four years ago. Now, with thousands of followers on social media and contracts with major corporations and organizations, OneStory is making waves.
On a chilly night in January 2016, Katrina and I connected on Skype. For her, the temperature was minus 20 and there was over a foot and a half of snow on the ground. For me, it was about minus six with two centimetres of the white stuff and some blowing snow causing havoc…
With a laugh at the various kinds of winter weather in our different Canadian cities (oh, Toronto), Katrina shared her journey as a single mom, her role with OneStory and what investing in a start-up really feels like.
See below for more!
1. When did you first realize you wanted to kickstart a career as an entrepreneur?
I don’t think that I actually made that decision, it just sort of happened. I’ve worked from home for different jobs and really like the independence. I was a single parent to two boys, now ages 10 and seven. It was also that, in order to accommodate my life, I needed to do work at home. I sort of fell into it.
2. What was the scariest part about investing your future in a start up?
It’s so uncertain. You can have a great deal of belief, but you also need to have revenue.
3. When did OneStory launch?
We became incorporated in October 2012. Went full time in January 2013. Launched it to public in January, the year after.
4. Though based in Saskatoon, people all over the world can use OneStory. Please tell me about the international recognition OneStory has received.
We have videos from 25 different countries! We are currently working with the UN Women – they are using us in Albania to capture stories of men standing up for women’s rights. The groups like Dalai Lama Fellows are gathering videos from around the world to see who their new cohort will be.
5. What drew you to the concept of a storytelling platform that shares video interviews?
There’s real power in stories, I’ve always believed that. Online videos are a modern form of storytelling. OneStory is all about how we can make storytelling as easy as possible for people to share educational stories for change!
6. What inspires and amazes you about storytelling?
There are power in stories; the power to understand the emotion and someone else’s point of view. People with cancer have shared their stories, children in Palestine talk about what they want to be when they grow up. Stories like these have an impact and can really change the world.
7. What is one story that continues to captivate you to this day?
We have a lot of really strong women who talk. Women in technology, entrepreneurship, finance might share their career paths. Together, I feel, there is a movement that’s happening. It’s keeping me inspired. I love biographies. Very successful women like Oprah and Arlene Dickenson, these women who have really risen despite odds to create something amazing in the world. Stories like these captivate me.
8. What was the first step you had to take to make OneStory what it is today?
I had a lot of experience in different business that lead up to what OneStory is today. I met my business partner, Dale Zak, who had the technology and the passion to make it happen. That was a big moment.
9. What has been the most rewarding aspect of your journey to OneStory’s Co-Founder and CEO?
By far, just seeing the reach of what we can be doing. Watching that impact. Getting the UN Women contract was pretty cool. We’ve gotten some amazing awards, which was really neat.
What my job right now is meeting people who are doing amazing things and showing them how to make it louder. That’s really cool. The people I spend time with are stimulating and it’s exciting to be part of the movement.
10. As a social media expert yourself, how do your website and your social media presence impact your brand?
You want to reach as many people as possible. It’s important that the people you’re following and interacting with are in your life, really. Having a real relationship with your clients and followers is one of the most important things. Constantly listen.
11. What was your first job? How has, or hasn’t, your first job helped you in your own business, today?
I was babysitting since I was very young, but my first official job was for A&W. In the customer service and hospitality industries, you learn how to interact with people and to be friendly in your work.
12. What is a day in the life of Katrina German like?
I wake up, get the family out the door. I go to work, all day. Sometimes, I have meetings. Sometimes I travel. Majority of my time is spent on the computer. I generally eat while I work. I pick up the kids around 5pm. We have family time before we go to bed. I then work a bit more. I work weekends, as well. My life partner, Michael, works a lot so it’s a great fit. We don’t have a problem working together on Saturdays.
13. What advice would you share with up and coming entrepreneurs?
If you can, start with financing. It’s hard to scale and do the things you want to with a company when you’re always worried about eating! This is not always possible, but have a revenue model that can fit with what you are doing. Keep working on it to have revenue that can sustain you.
Secondly, find mentors!! Some people just have one, but for me, I have mentors in all the areas I want to get better at – a speaking, HR, business management. When I have questions, these are the people I can approach to bounce ideas off of.
14. Where is your favourite place to find inspiration?
The bathtub. In the winter, it’s in my bathtub. In the summer, it’s in my garden.
15. Anything else to add?
This has been a wild adventure. There are days I love it and days I hate it. But most of all, I don’t know what I would do other than this!