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!