Alum of the Month - March 2021

Net Supatravanij

Our ultimate vision at ila is to make gender equality a standard – not a privilege.
Net Supatravanij


  • Programme studied: MSc Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship  
  • Year of Graduation: 2019
  • LinkedIn profile

Meet our March Alum of the Month, Net Supatravanij. Net, along with fellow Management alumna Julie Sane-Pezet, co-founded ila, an award-winning social enterprise that uses human-centered design to empower gender-based violence survivors. Ila generation has partnered with UN Women, WeWork and Unilever, and Net has been invited to speak at UN Women’s International Women’s Day Conference at its Asia Pacific Headquarters in Bangkok.

Tell us about your career journey since graduating from LSE.

I would say all the lessons I’ve learned during my program at LSE were crucial to how ila originated and where it is today. After handing in our final dissertations, my co-founder and I packed our bags and headed to Mumbai, India, where we piloted our skills-training program for gender-based violence survivors in partnership with UN Women, WeWork and Unilever. Since then, we’ve won the LSE Generate funding competition and I’ve been invited to speak at UN Women’s International Women’s Day Conference at its Asia Pacific Headquarters in Bangkok.
Due to COVID-19 we’ve had to pivot our business and now focus on championing gender and inclusion within companies. This includes the development of our latest application to combat the rise of domestic abuse during COVID by training retail staff to become allies.
How did your time at LSE influence your career journey?
On the first day of orientation I met my classmate Julie Sane-Pezet and we bonded over our shared interest in eliminating gender-based violence. Little did we know that would be the beginning of ila. Since that moment, we took in all LSE had to offer to make ila the best it could be. We applied theories on social innovation from our program to set a strong foundation for ila, we bounced ideas off of our diverse group of classmates and we engaged heavily with LSE Generate – the entrepreneurial hub for students and alumni.
I’ve had a lot of prospective students reach out to me since leaving LSE and I tell them that the MSc Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship program is great for anyone who is thinking of starting their own social enterprise. In reality, I think any student can make the most of LSE if they want to – all of the resources are there right at your fingertips.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career and what have you learned from it?
When it comes to the start-up world, only 3% of VC funding goes to female founders. This statistic is backed up by the fact that gender equality as a UN Sustainable Development Goal is one of the social issues with the least amount of investment. Even in today’s pandemic context, women are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 – whether it be job losses, increased housework or the rise in domestic abuse cases which impacts 15 million women every three months of lockdown. I learned early on during my journey with ila that being female, especially a young female POC, you have to work twice as hard to prove your value. I’ve also learned the vitality of female networks and creating your own community of strong women who can be your mentor as well as women who you can help support. That’s why my co-founder and I are proud to be launching the first Women in Leadership at LSE (WILL) initiative for female founders along with LSE Generate later this year.
You are the Co-Founder of ila, an award-winning social enterprise using human-centred design solutions to trigger social change. What was your motivation in founding ila? 
For us, gender-based violence is the most extreme form of gender inequality. Our ultimate vision at ila is to make gender equality a standard – not a privilege. Having graduated from the MSc Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, we place a lot of value on human-centered design and work to solve issues from a bottom-up approach. Whatever we do, we keep our beneficiaries (gender-based violence victims and survivors) in mind and co-create solutions with their feedback. For instance, our latest application to combat domestic abuse was created for abuse victims with input from abuse survivors. 
You have experience in publishing, public relations, marketing, advertising, and corporate social responsibility, and have worked in many global cities. How has this vast experience impacted where you are now?
I strongly believe that storytelling is a huge part of getting people to come on board your vision. My past experience in advertising shaped how we built the brand for ila. When you think about gender-based violence you immediately think “NGO” or “Victim” but we wanted to change that narrative. We wanted to make ila accessible, young and engaging… we wanted gender equality to be ‘cool’ again so to speak.
Having worked in a Fortune 500 company before, the corporate experience was vital in shaping the structure of ila. In particular, leading the CSR initiative for my previous company gave me huge insight into how corporations think about social impact and sustainability. My co-founder also has a development background so it was the perfect compliment for our social enterprise and for us to have clearly defined roles. 

What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs who are looking to follow in your footsteps?

A shameless plug! But I wrote this Medium for ila a few months back on some lesson I’ve learned so far as a founder which has since been featured in The Startup publication. I think being a social entrepreneur takes a different kind of mental toll on you because you feel a responsibility to society. The most important piece of advice I would say for aspiring social entrepreneurs is to make sure that you’re completely and irrevocably passionate about the social impact that you want to create or the social issue you want to solve. Make sure that whatever you’re interested in isn’t just a trend because the core of social innovation is all about sustainability - does your idea have long-term impact? I’d also recommend getting your feet wet in the sector because there are so many resources and programs available, particularly in London, which I feel is one of the more sophisticated markets for social entrepreneurship to thrive.