Determined and passionate, Ahoua Bakayoko, Founder of Missbak, has centered her vegan and organic skin care brand on making a positive impact.

Hi Ahoua, can you tell us about yourself and your company Missbak?

Missbak came to life when my son started to develop allergies. At first, I felt like a detective, researching contents with strange letters and numbers in creams. It was then that I discovered how many products contain ingredients which have bad affects on our skin and the environment. So it’s no surprise that we hear about cosmetic scandals every year…

Originally, I’m from the Ivory Coast and for us, skin care is based on natural remedies, and mainly shea butter. No one suffers from skin allergies, and shea butter is a basic skin care product that everyone has access.

Seeing no improvement in my son’s skin reactions, I started treating him with shea butter, which made all the difference. Suddenly everything fell into place, and I thought of how I could help people with skin problems, while supporting women in the Ivory Coast, who are the ones producing shea butter.

At Missbak, we offer natural skin care products, which give back to our community. Our project aims to improve women’s working conditions, by providing them with health care, training, a safe work place, and remunerating them correctly.

Were you always in the cosmetics field?

I was in finance until I started Missbak. After graduating, I was an auditor for 10 years. I wanted a work-life balance, so I could spend more time with my son and pursue something more meaningful with an impact. After some time, I resigned and founded Missbak. The goal is to dedicate time to a project, which is ethical, and improving the world we live in.

What products does Missbak currently offer?

We offer Shea butter, cacao oil and coconut oil, which are ingredients that can be incorporated in homemade cosmetics, and applied on your body and hair, all year around.

Where does the name ‘Missbak’ come from?

It took me a while to come up with my company’s name. Then one day, my best friend said, “Why don’t you call it ‘Missbak’?” It made perfect sense because it’s my childhood nickname, and everyone back home knows me as ‘Missbak’. The funny thing is that the name was just right there, the whole time.

What are the Missbak’s values?

We’re very dedicated to female empowerment, ethical and sustainable practices, as well as transparency on how and who makes your products. We want to have a positive impact on our community.

I believe, my clientele is concerned about environment issues, and being ethical awareness is deeply rooted in my philosophy. The point is to care for our planet. We live here and the best way to be thankful is to preserve it.

How would you describe a typical day working on your project?

There is no such thing as a typical day! However, before getting to The Office, I plan my schedule the day and week ahead. I do calls, research and organize meetings. Currently, we’re running a crowd funding initiative and hope it will attract future customers, while raising our funds. When you donate, you get a pre-order item.

What are the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur?

I would say getting finances. I know why I do what I do, and where I’m going. I believe in my project, and I have control over that, but money is the one thing that is tougher to tackle. Let’s face it money, facilitates a lot of things. While there is a lot promotion for entrepreneurship, finances are not as readily available for entrepreneurs of all sectors. Providers have a narrow selection process, and mainly support Regtech or Fintech startups. This doesn’t leave you with many options, other than maybe crowd funding. Let’s face it, people don’t easily give money to crowd funding either….So you have to be very transparent with the community and share, in hopes they too will spread the word of Missbak.

Where can we find your crowdfunding initiative?

As a co-worker, what are the 3 words that come to your mind when you hear, The Office?

Peaceful, friendly and cozy.

Why did you choose The Office?

It was the flexibility! The Office allows me to come and go when I want, offers larger spaces if I need it in the future, and I have exactly what I need to get my work done. Other spaces require you to commit to stay a minimum of 6 months or even a year, even though the road of a startup is known to be unpredictable.

If you could give aspiring entrepreneurs or freelancers, any advice, what would it be?

It depends where you are in in your project. However, if you’re just starting out, it’ s good to start with validating your idea. From day one up until now, I have adapted my project based on feedback I’ve received. The important thing to remember is that you are selling to others and not yourself. It is crucial to find out what others want and need, and to be on the same page.

For startups and entrepreneurs who are a bit further along, believe in what you’re doing! Stay realistic, face challenges, and try to understand what works and what doesn’t. Be open to feedback while keeping your feet on the ground.

Straddling between ‘City’ and ‘Charlotte’, Luigi, is our go-to guy when it comes to organizing events! No matter what time of day it is, you’ll catch this 26 year – old coordinating and fine tuning the last event details, to ensure that everything is perfect! Read on to learn more about our Event & Community Manager.

Hey Luigi, you’re one of our latest additions to The Office Team, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi, I’m from Naples, Italy and I moved to Luxembourg in 2015. Before that, I also lived in France. Since May, I’m the Event and Community Manager at The Office. Outside of work, I really enjoy acting! That being said, I’m not really a sports guy!

What is your favorite part about working at The Office?

Each day is different and dynamic! I work on various projects, get to know our members, and meet new people every day. It’s a very refreshing environment, and I enjoy contributing to the overall mission of our coworking space- helping startups reach their goals!

What are some upcoming The Office projects you are looking forward to?

I would say, the upcoming ad campaigns for events! We just wrapped up our The Café video, which we just posted on Facebook! In general though, I look forward to perfecting the events management process and our services. In terms of community, it’s about helping our members create meaningful connections to further their goals!

What are your thoughts on coworking?

Coworking is a fruitful way to start your business! It offers a supportive environment, where you can easily meet people which are experiencing similar challenges, and a way to expand your network. It’s one of the best ways to start your activity and exchange ideas in the process.

Any favorite dishes from The Café ?

I love the avocado bowl, of course! However, the most important thing is the The Café‘s atmosphere! A fun and creative environment makes dishes much more enjoyable.

As a team member, what are 3 phrases that come to mind when you hear ‘The Office’?

Improving yourself!
Be determined!
Reach your goal!

Do you have any daily rituals?

A strong cup of coffee and checking the agenda, so I can focus on my objectives.

What project at The Office has been the most fun so far?

It would have to be Paperjam’s StartUp Stories. The Office was a sponsor for the event, and it was the very first event I attended after joining the team. We had good fun, and it was a great opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people. Also, I could truly ‘inhale’ or feel the startup spirit.

What are your thoughts on our newest location The Office “City”?

I would say The Office ‘City’ is a very unique space located in the City Center. If you look at it, we’re surrounded by banks and other financial service providers, which makes us standout from our neighbours. City has a cool take on breaking stereotypes. It’s more minimal and reminds me of an art gallery.

A full-stack freelance software developer and founder of A3D Studio, Adrian Bardan, sheds light on tech life as a freelancer in Luxembourg.

Hi Adrian! Can you tell us more about what it is that you do?

I’m a software developer and founder of A3D Studio. I consider myself a freelancer, and work with 2 companies in the US. We’ve been working together for roughly 10 years now, and I focus on various projects from web technologies, mobile apps, e-commerce, internal projects, to websites for their end-clients. Of these two companies, one of them is a design company which used to be in print, but now focuses on fancier tech elements in the design world. The second company used to be a traditional advertising agency, which moved its presence online a while ago. Both companies have a portfolio of clients of various sizes and industries, from e-commerce to automotives, and everything in between. It gives me a chance to develop software for small to large scale projects, covering various fields. Of course, we experiment with different concepts, to see what works and what doesn’t.

What were you doing before you started A3D Studio and why did you take the big leap?

Before founding my own company, I was a junior working for other companies. One of them was Ipsos, where I worked on their software development, but found that I transitioned into a more senior software developer as I started working on small side projects, something a lot software developers do. It gave me a chance to explore and see what I liked doing more and further develop my skills. At the time I was younger, and could handle the stress of also working at night to complete my side projects; however, as the number of projects rose, at a certain point I had to decide if I would stay with the company, or go freelance, because you cannot keep doing both at the same time. In the end, I took the leap and since I met these two companies, it has been working really well.

I started A3D Studio with a friend of mine, but at some point we decided to part ways because he was more into branding, and headed in the direction of creating a marketing agency with links to tech development. For me, on the other hand, it has always been purely about technology.

Have you ever thought about becoming an employee at a company working from 9.00 to 18.00 again?

I’ve thought of being a regular employee, but I guess I like the flexibility of being a freelancer. Of course, sometimes it means you have to push harder especially when there are several deadlines to meet around the same time. You have big responsibilities as a freelancer, and I take them seriously. Depending on the project, there are times when I’m the main person, and have a few people working under me. On other projects, I’m one of several developers. It all depends, I usually have 2-3 projects going at the same time, some requiring more coordination, others more work, more pressure and more sleepless nights ? Like with every job, some projects are more exciting than others, and coupled with flexibility…I’m very motivated and happy working as a freelancer in this line of business.

Do you have any source of inspiration or role models, like Steve Jobs, to name one?

I don’t really have a role model, per se, I’ve read their biographies but I’m not 100% convinced, because you can’t be sure if it’s all really true or if the writer sheds the right light on these influential people. However, I’m inspired by the open community in technology because it drives development. It’s not the big companies that create proprietary software but it’s the open source companies which actually support open source software, like Google which is leading in that way, even if they have a lot of projects which aren’t public. Also Microsoft is going towards making open-source part of their projects. There are a lot of platforms where you can help others or they can help you, which is good for the community and a major source of inspiration for me.

Do you think you’re unique?

I’m not unique, but what makes me an asset to any team or company is that I take responsibility seriously, so when I have to deliver, I’m sure to deliver! Unfortunately, in the world of developers, I’ve met some who are not as serious about their responsibilities. Tech used to be a niche 20 years ago, but now, everyone’s in it and there’s a huge demand for it! The big need for tech in all industries, also means that, sometimes that the people hired to do things, don’t actually have the necessary skill set. In Romania, for example, there is a big boom because of high salaries awarded in the tech field, but many don’t have the skill level and you end up with mediocre software. Some just copy open source which is readily available, but don’t understand how it works…I studied computer science and also did a master in it, so I have the right background. Of course, it’s true that nowadays you can learn and develop software without a degree, and still do something on a superficial level. If you want to be serious though, you have to go deeper and understand how it actually works.

There are many languages in coding, how do you keep up?

Yeah, you can easily become obsolete, but I keep up-to-date as much as possible. I try and learn as many new technologies and skills as I can. It’s a continuous learning process, especially in the web area. If you work for big companies, and just code and update existing software, it’s one thing, but demand is high in modern technology and not the old ones.

Do you have a favorite type of technology to work on?

I’m a full-stack developer, so I can work on frontend and backend of software. I do prefer working on the backend, like building APIs for apps. The front is usually very time-consuming, as clients tend to very picky, especially if they are designers. Designers often want to move buttons over, even if it’s just for 1 pixel to the left. They try and want to experiment, but for me, it’s redundant work. On the back-end you build a functionality, test it, and see if it works. It also makes you think more than when you develop an interface. However, as a freelancer in my world, you have learn both to be fully operational, or at the very least understand both parts to work properly.

Any goals or special direction you plan for A3D Studio?

Well for now, I consider myself part of the teams in the US. I don’t think they are aiming to go global. At some point, we may roll out one of our internal projects, and see if they take off. If that works out we would get out of client work and focus on those projects. Currently, we’re in the trial and error stage internally. We’ll have to see, you never know!

What keeps you motivated as a freelancer in the tech field?

As a developer, I love the tech community! In terms of the companies I work with, they continue to be challenging with a healthy work-life balance. They’re very driven and forward-thinking- it’s exciting to hear new ideas you’ve never thought of and it’s a continuous cycle of development and innovation! Even if I have to push harder at times, I’m very happy with how things have been developing over the years!

Anything less pleasant about being a freelancer which you would like to share?

As a freelancer, I don’t have paid holidays- I guess that’s the worst thing! ? Of course, sometimes you have tough deadlines and work more. This also means that I always have to take my laptop with me when I go on vacation and work remotely when needed…So far I only had one holiday that was completely ruined, but otherwise, it has been quick calls and tweaking.

Any advice for our readers who are thinking of becoming a freelancer?

Specifically for the technology sector, I would say it’s very tough, maybe a few years ago it was easier. However, if you find a field that you’re good at, and it requires using tech, there is room to grow! For me, it’s difficult to have my own project or app because my expertise is solely in technology. Of course, I had contact with companies from various industries, but I don’t have internal insight on the particularities of these sectors. So if you’re good in a certain field and find a way to innovate using technology, there’s room. If you have a good idea you’ve got to try!

What are the first things that come to mind when you hear “The Office Luxembourg”?

We have a very nice community, for sure! The coworking spaces offer a pleasant environment to work from, which are spacious and quiet, so you can still get plenty of work done. And of course, The Office is very conveniently located.

So, why is it that you decide to work from The Office?

When I first came to Luxembourg roughly 3 years ago, there were not nearly as many spaces, as there are today. I actually coworked from another coworking space that was closer to my home, but they relocated and their terms changed. So for a while, I was working from home, but then I finally found The Office! I came for a visit and became a member right away. It was perfect from the start!

Creative Director and Co-Founder of his own studio, DEUUX, Thomas is ready to set his mark on the design scene in Luxembourg and beyond.

Hey Thomas, can you tell us more about your company DEUUX ?

Hi, I’m the Co-Founder and Creative Director of DEUUX! We are a creative studio founded in Luxembourg, since 2017. We play around with a lot of design stuff, illustrations, UX/UI, paper design, web design, sometimes motion design and we are always happy to help and give advice.

What did you do before this?

I lived and worked in Brussels for 5 years. I was an Art Director in a brand and packaging agency mainly for food brands like Delhaize. Fun fact: There’s an 80% chance that you’ve got at least 1 piece of packaging that I made in your kitchen. It was a great opportunity to learn skills, especially because creativity in packaging needs to be efficient, and is viewed by millions of consumers every day in the most competitive landscape, 5 to 10 brand side by side, 0.5sec to convince consumer to choose you.

Before that, I studied in Namur after completing a technical school in art and infographic design. In 2012, I was a competitor at Worldskills in London, which is like the Olympics for technical and manual skills, with roughly 1300 competitors, from 76 countries, and 51 skill categories. Each country has a delegation, and selects 1-2 competitors to compete for each category. In 2015, the Belgian delegation asked me to again take the “expert” role which means I train the next competitors, share their experiences, and along with other experts from other countries prepare the next competitions.

So how did you make the leap to starting DEUUX?

When I finished my studies I wanted to be in the branding and packaging design field, as I really like the tangible aspect, and moved to Brussels for a job opportunity… but starting a family in a big city was never a goal we shared with my girlfriend. So after 5 years, we decided to move to Arlon.

Then, I tried out design agencies in Luxembourg, only to realize we do not share the same design values and quality process. In essence, this is what led me to start DEUUX with a friend.

What is your source of inspiration?

I keep track of agencies like Stranger & Stranger, Design Bridge, and Base Design. Also, I look at design trends and illustrations, UI design, art.. nothing specific. I think a good designer should be like a sponge and soak up everything around them.

Do you prefer rebranding or starting from scratch?

Sometimes rebranding can be really interesting, because it gives you a chance to see what didn’t work too well and how it can be done better.

What makes you unique?

I don’t think I’m unique, but I had the chance to compete in Worldskills. Also, I’m very positive and for me, design always has to push boundaries, I try to reflect this in our work and push my designers to do the same.

How would you describe a typical day working on your project?

That’s the magic of a creative studio, there is no typical day ?

What are your goals or plans for your company?

I don’t plan on DEUUX becoming a big global agency, but I would like to create a network of small studios, where each studio focuses on a specific skill. This way when there is a larger project to develop, we would pool in all studios and expertise. If I have the opportunity, I would love to buy another studio in Barcelona, Singapore, SF, I don’t know yet. I just want to be inspired by different design cultures.

What’s the story behind the name of your creative studio, DEUUX ?

We were thinking of something simple yet stupid, since we are two founders, we simply added an extra u to deux (French for two)…. it’s easy to remember. Keeping it simple is the secret to good branding!

Why did you choose The Office?

We’ve been here for 2 months, and really I like the mood at Charlotte. It’s friendly and I want my agency to be like this. And a message to everyone who sees our super Nintendo through the window, you can come to play, I don’t bite.. but please don’t give food to Logan, I’m not responsible if your fingers disappear.

If you could give aspiring entrepreneurs or freelancers, any advice, what would it be?

I have 2 pieces of advice: “Stay close to your accountant and your finances”, don’t trust, verify. Secondly, sometimes you just have to stop thinking and just jump in! I come from a small town in Belgium and I’m the first person in my family to become an entrepreneur. Of course, I had all these questions on my mind when I first told my family I would start my own business… but sometimes you have to try, to see what you can do!

Lucyna Ruszkiewicz, an artist with a mission to spread her truth, share stories and emotions, one brush stroke at a time!

Hi Lucyna, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hello, I’m a graduate of the Art High School and Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań. I obtained a diploma in Art Therapy, after graduating from the Medical University, and I conduct therapies in the Gestalt trend- companions to people who are undergoing change. For many years I had an advertising agency, and I’m a graphic designer, I also arranged interiors. Today I mainly paint; I do what I love. I am filled with energy, create my reality, talk to people, and choose to be happy.

Have you always been an artist?

What does it really mean to be an artist? I don’t have addictions, I have great sons, a developmental relationship, I paint a lot- and I still have fun and make a living out of it. I think I am the artist of my life, because today, here and now, my life is beautiful.

What topics do you touch upon in your pieces, and are there any special messages you would like to share?

Every creator paints, writes, composes the truth about themselves. Only then does artwork speak to us. Each of my paintings is an accumulation of my experiences and emotions. It used to be more therapy, but today it’s about observation, meditation, and reflection. Cycle Wizard – is a painted image of changes which are taking place today. The awoken energy of women, opposing the destruction that humanity does to Earth, and building awareness amongst people. Pictures speak, change, and create a new reality. It’s a return to the source.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Wherever women are ? I am inspired by our experiences, emotions, strength and fragility- which make up the pillars of our lives. When I work, I have some emotions on my mind and imagine a woman who will match these feelings. On the technical side, it’s very important for me, to have a good anatomy, so the figure doesn’t look like plastic. I can’t look at technical gaps in many paintings, it frightens me. My therapeutic inspiration is also a source of inspiration to me, along with relations, travels, forms, colors, structures, and energy of the places I visit. However, at the center of every piece, is a story of a woman.

Do you have a favorite art work that you painted? If so, why?

They are all my favorites, as each of them is a creation of mine. Only I change and grow creatively as well as in life, and my paintings reflect this. If I had already painted my favorite, why would I want to paint more?

What is an integral part of an artist’s work?

Sensitivity, empathy, observation, passion, persistence, development of the workshop, research, and the ability to transform. It is a job that is life. It requires consistency. Being in harmony with yourself. An artist’s work is a way, a process, and a need that results in work. It’s definitely not a hobby!

What is the role of the artist in society?

I visualize roles and name them in therapy. ? just to go out and live for themselves. An artist is a person just like everyone. He or she comes to accomplish his task on earth. I have talent and my task is to paint such images to raise people’s vibrations. Give them beauty and reflections, which makes them question.

How has your practice changed over time?

It changed because I changed. I take it seriously and am mindfulness about the process. That’s how I approach my art. It’s become my source of livelihood. I go to the studio, I work physically, emotionally and mentally for many hours. I accept orders and build relationships with clients. I am in full of humility, and make sure to take care of my body and well-being. I have also learned to accept my inspiration and lack of inspiration. I talk to my paintings as well as look for new means of expression. When I paint quickly, I tend to release emotions. Each picture is different, and now the whole process is important to me. Consistency and lightness of the message. I paint a picture for as long as I feel. Sometimes a week sometimes a month, it depends on the piece but you have to give it the time that it requires.

Do you have a dream project? What is your dream project?

I have a project to be happy through painting. To show, expose my paintings, reach people. Especially those people who are tightly locked in their own heads. Travel and paint where I am. It’s my creation. Here and now I am clarifying the participation in a large project in a beautiful European capital, and was invited by a great sculptor to do so. Artistically it is a demanding concept. If I can give the particulars, I will give and invite.

What is the best advice you have received and which one you want to share with artists who are just starting?

Councils are generally weak. For me, the most important discovery was the power of beliefs. Yes, so give up the type beliefs; that you cannot make a living from art, and that an artist dies of hunger ;-), I’m hopeless and others are better.

What current trends in the art world do you follow?

Honestly, I don’t follow, I just paint ? Much of what I see is not understandable to me, either “not drawn or not painted”. I look at a few things like phenomena, not art though they have the name “art ..”. I simply do my own thing.

How did you get in contact with The Office and Gosia?

I was invited to exhibit my works at the Fair of Arts and Antiques in Luxembourg. A wonderful organization and I am very grateful to have been there. There were a lot of fantastic open people at the fair who showered me with contacts. The first was Gosia’s number, a Polish female entrepreneur who combines business and art. Telephone, meeting, exhibition project. Action and reaction. Gosia likes my paintings and I love Gosia’s energy. It’s chemistry ?

Why did you choose The Office to display your work?

The Office is well-decorated, has space and colors, which I like. And seriously, I think it’s a great place without censorship and beliefs. Open to a very different type of audience. A place with a mission to combine business and art. Two poles, providing balance in life. That’s what the universe wanted. I trust that during the exhibition I will meet people who will love my paintings and show them in another promising place. I welcome everyone to my exhibition!

Winner of 50,000€ Female Empowerment prize at The Arch Summit in Luxembourg, for her startup, Startalers, CEO and Co-Founder, Gaelle Haag, is one female entrepreneur with big and ambitious dreams for all women!

Hi there, can you tell us more about yourself and your current project?

Hi, I’m Gaelle Haag the CEO and Co-founder of StarTalers. My Co-Founder, Thierry, and I founded Startalers with the vision of becoming women’s BFF (Best Financial Friend) by developing a platform designed especially for women. Through Startalers, our goal is to help women become financially empowered and independent. We offer fun and helpful trainings, which are easy to understand, and the possibility to make sustainable investments which match your values and personality.

What did you do before this?

I have over 15 years of experience in asset and wealth management. I was working at KBL where I was Head of Sales and Marketing before starting my startup. Prior to that, I was at McKinsey which was also a great school, as I had a very demanding workplace and allowed me to grow. For both jobs, I was travelling quite a bit which makes it tricky when you also have kids and try to juggle work and family life.

You mentioned you are a mother of two, how do you balance the life of an entrepreneur with being a mom?

It can be challenging at times, but in some ways, it has gotten easier since I started StarTalers. There are times when I can work from home, or on weekends, while still spending time with the girls when they don’t need my full attention. It’s cool because they want to get involved and help where they can, it’s like our family’s startup baby. They probably are going to know everything there is to know about finance in a couple of years. The funniest is when a Youtube video came out of me with cars doing an interview. My daughters and their friends were amazed, and suddenly I became a cool mom…I guess being on Youtube for this generation is everything! But all in all, I just try to set a good example for my girls and want them to grow up and be independent!

What inspired you to create your start-up?

I was actually attending a conference about women in Finance here in Luxembourg. Honestly, I was expecting it to be the usual topics, but this conference went deeper! It was then when I realized how few women actually invest. I too was in finance for years, but never invest … So I thought to myself why was that, and what are the type of investments women would actually be interested in? Around the same time, I found that more established companies were sticking to the traditional financial instruments, which is also normal because it takes time for things change in larger companies. Yet I understood that this model would not last, as market demands were slowly shifting for other types of products. So, I started developing this idea of empowering women in finance with a focus on sustainable investments and was curious where this idea could take me.

I guess I was just ready for a change and wanted to create a positive impact rather than settle for a secure job.

Where in your project are you and what are your goals for StarTalers?

Currently, we have trainings available on our platform, which are free of charge. This allows women to familiarize themselves and understand the various options they have available to them. For Q1 of 2020, we plan to launch the investment platform where users can invest in projects with a positive impact, which fit their values and investment preferences.

What are some challenges you faced since you founded your startup and how do you approach them?

Well, it’s hard to say, there have been so many, and I probably could have given up a hundred times already…For me, it’s about finding a solution! If there’s a problem, I try to work around the challenge and see how we can find an optimal way to resolve it.

What’s the story behind the name of your company?

The name StarTalers actually comes from the Brothers Grimm fable, which is a story about a poor orphaned girl which ends up giving everything she has to those less fortunate than her. At the end of the story, she is rewarded for her generosity when ‘talers’ (German for silver coin) fall from the sky. This pretty much summarizes our values, it’s important to help those around us, as much as we can.

Why did you choose to base yourself at The Office?

Gosia has been a great fellow female entrepreneur and supporter since we started StarTalers. I remember when we had a venue cancellation last minute, Gosia jumped in and said we could hold the workshop at The Office. She has always been there and it seems natural for us to be based here. It’s important for startups to help each other, and I admire her for all the hard work she has been putting into creating and running these coworking spaces. Of course, people are friendly and the environment is very positive at The Office, which is ideal when you are looking for a place to work from.

So if you could give aspiring entrepreneurs or freelancers, any advice, what would it be?

Before starting your project and just going for it, be sure to do your research! Check if there’s a market for what it is that you want to do. It’s how I started… I organized workshops and quickly saw that there was demand for my project. Seeing the response to your service or product is a good indicator as to whether or not there’s a need or interest for your project. Also, it’s important to be realistic about your project, we’re flooded with images of successful entrepreneurs, but it takes time, and a lot of hard work to get there. In the process, you may also have to make sacrifices and it’s not something that happens overnight, but if you’re passionate and plan your project well, you have to follow through with your goal!

Have you met our newest Team Member, Mica? For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of chatting with this bubbly and ambitious 21-year-old, Mica is the newest member to join the marketing team! We’re excited to have her, and wanted to share more on her story!

Hi Mica, you’re the newest addition to The Office Team, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hey, I’m Mica and I’m from the Philippines! My family and I moved to Luxembourg 3 years ago. I’m a business student at United Business Institutes (UBI), and just started my marketing internship at The Office!

So what we’re you doing before joining The Office?

I just wrapped up my internship at TEDxLuxembourgCity, where I was a marketing intern! It was a really cool experience because I also learned about logistics and the work that goes into planning a big event.

What is your source of inspiration?

All the strong women and kind men around me. They make me want to continuously progress and do well in every aspect of my life.

What makes you unique?

I think my diversity in perspective. It can seem very hard to see things from another person’s point of view. Also, I’m very empathetic, which can be a blessing and a curse, depending on the situation.

How would you describe a typical day working on your project?

It’s a process. I learn something new every day, from different people who all come from different walks of life. It’s nice to learn more about their outlook on the world. When I see the complexity every person has, I’m reminded that the world is much bigger than I thought! Everybody knows something you don’t and it’s humbling to know that everyone can teach you something!

What’s your favorite part about interning at The Office?

My favorite part of working at The Office is the complexity of our responsibilities. I love having tons to do, boredom has always been my enemy.

As a member of The Office team, what are the 3 words that come to your mind about The Office?

Diverse, unique and lively!

Why did you choose to intern at The Office?

For me, it’s all about working on innovative projects. The very core of The Office is an innovative idea, which helps multiple industries go forward.

…When tech magician’s, Alain and Thibault, two former colleagues from the big 4, teamed up with Fabrice, a long-time friend and working partner, joined SMILE’s Innovation Team at The Office…

Hi guys, can you tell us more about your role at Smile and the company’s activity?

Alain(A): Smile is a French company with agencies around Europe, as well as Morocco and Ukraine. I’m the Technology Director within the Innovation Team. We research and consult on new technologies, and work closely with clients, to adapt technologies which meet their needs. Of course, there’s a process, sometimes we do product sketches and eventually prototypes, other times we optimize a business process. It can AI related or an internal IT department regarding new practices or tools. We’re geeks and think about how to improve the current situation and apply new approaches or thinking.

Thibault(T): I’m an Innovation Evangelist, and ensure we have a better view on innovation, both internally and externally. Meaning, I look at what agencies are already doing, and how we can increase their exposure, or at what we’re doing internally and how it can help clients or leads. Also, I work on prototyping and service/product design. As Alain said, it’s about being pragmatic, so we look at used cases and experiment to find where more work is needed.

Where do you find your inspiration?

A: It comes from passion, and thinking about how we can solve issues. A good part also comes from client requests, especially when it comes to AI.

T: Yes, they often hear about tech developments and it may not be exactly what they need, so we research and see how we can adapt it to their needs. It pushes us to know more. I also follow tech and market trends, to see how we can experiment with them.

Any special SMILE news we should be aware of?

T: There’s a lot going on, but here are two: We’re Snips’ first tech partner! Snips focus on speech recognition and voice assistant services that run locally on the device, which does not need a cloud or central server. It offers complete user privacy, and can be used in home automation, or as a voice assistant at hospitals or retirement homes! Secondly, we’re part AI4U, a consortium which is a platform developing AI in Europe. Normally a field where the US and China are dominant in.

A: Since 6 months, we’re Amazon’s first IOT partner in Europe! IOT (Internet of Things) meaning any device with an internet connection, e.g. fridges, or doorlocks.

What’s your favorite part about working here at The Office?

T: I really like the environment, it isn’t pretentious. A lot of spaces buy a lot of expensive stuff, and that’s it… but they’re impersonal. The Office is cozy, people are friendly, and I like the do-it-yourself spirit!

A: To add to Thibault, The Office is also central and simple!

Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs or geeks ?

T: Have fun or quit, because life’s too short! Especially in Luxembourg, there are so many IT opportunities, if you’re unhappy leave and start your own project. Just take a chance!

A: Simply help yourself and it will create a positive path for things to work out!

Anything else you would like to mention?

A: If any coworkers have any ideas or issues with technology, we’re here to help!

T: Or even talk about projects or learn more about the AI, computer vision, chatbot and any topics in between. We keep our door closed because we’re noisy, but feel free to say ‘hi’ !