Interview with Alicia Navarro, Founder at ‘Deep Work’ Start-Up: Flown

This is my second company, after building and exiting Skimlinks. I want to help people feel fulfilled, and a large part of our sense of pride comes from our work: it is what we spend a majority of our waking hours doing, and what we exercise a huge amount of our mental muscle in performing. Getting more opportunities to do ‘deep work’ is the way we can focus on creating the thoughtworks that make a difference, but the way we work means we don’t get to do this often. We are stuck working in distracting offices, or these post-covid days, working in our unexciting home offices… how on earth can we produce our best work in these environments?

So FLOWN is a platform that helps bring ‘deep work’ principles into our daily work lives. We deliver both the ideal mental and physical spaces to do our best thinking and working. Sometimes we need to get away from our day to day, and for that, we will be offering FLOWN Away: ergonomic and functional workspaces in inspiring settings. Sometimes we can’t get away, and for that, we will be offering FLOWN Here: a set of tools and resources to deliver creativity, focus and accountability to our working lives.

Our offerings will be wrapped up in a membership for both individuals and teams, and we’ll be launching in the new year!

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I came up with the idea for FLOWN as a result of my own experiences. When I stepped down from my last startup, I had so many ideas for companies I wanted to start, books I wanted to write, causes I wanted to lead… but I couldn’t find anywhere to work that could let me both focus and be comfortable physically. Co-working spaces were distracting and dull; cafes and member’s clubs were not ergononic and hurt my back (and there were never enough power sockets!); and I was going crazy working from home all the time!

So I became a digital nomad, and took my little puppy and drove around France and Spain, hoping to have the peace and focus I needed to focus on my creativity. Unfortunately, I discovered that Airbnb and weren’t a great solution either. I had to wade through a lot of mediocrity, often the wifi didn’t work, I needed my monitor to work well, and I wasted a lot of time faffing with power, facilities, etc.

I then experimented by running a few retreats where I setup workspaces with monitors and wifi in beautiful French chateaus, Spanish villas, and Portuguese townhouses, and found that my concept really resonated with a lot of entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, academics, freelancers and writers. I realised I was onto something that I felt incredibly passionate about, and the rest is, well, now my present!

What advice would you give to other aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Stop seeing yourself as a “female” entrepreneur. You’re either an entrepreneur, or you probably won’t make it. It is really really tough to succeed in this game, and I’ve observed that the most successful people are those who make the most of their assets, and find ways to mitigate any areas of weakness. This would also be my advice to male entrepreneurs, of course.

What can we hope to see from FLOWN in the future?

Well, we have to launch first, so that is our next big milestone. Post-launch, we’ll be building out enterprise features to support companies using us as an employee benefit.