Joly’s Story


Joly Zou



Business Sector


Time in Business


Joly was born in a traditional Chinese family in Northeastern China and believed the paths to success were education and “golden bowls” (means a job that you get to keep for a lifetime), so entrepreneurship was never really on her radar. 


When she decided to quit her job to start her business, her mum cried for months telling her that she was “destroying her golden life”. Over the course of a mid-career gap-year, Joly travelled around the world alone, seeking new experiences, and opportunities that would revive a sense of purpose in her life. Rather than feeling “trapped” in a job that couldn’t give her what she wanted anymore, she decided to create something that would help her, and women like her as they went on their own personal journeys. 


Joly Zou started her company Solocal Travel to empower women to explore, learn and grow via travelling. A former Global Marketing Manager for Microsoft, Joly decided to use her skills to build a platform that would represent her and her hopes for society. She sought to create a world in which women can feel connected, safe and able to explore and learn about different community and cultures while making a positive impact on the local community. 


With no experience in entrepreneurship, Joly was left with the myths and legends rather than practical startup knowledge. When she went full steam ahead into the entrepreneurship world with her skills as a corporate employee, she found that the same rules didn’t apply. She no longer had a large budget and a large team implementing on her behalf. It was all on her. To help her deal with her new reality and to learn ways people building startups actually make a success of them, she decided to join the Hatch BAME Female Founders Incubator.

"The programme brings women together to support and empower each other. My business is all about empowering and connecting women around the world - it fits perfectly with the programme."