What does being a business owner mean to you and why did you become an entrepreneur in the first place?
It means to me that I have freedom to work in something I feel passionate about. I wanted to create something of value with my own vision. I have always been driven and entrepreneurial minded. Generally speaking, being my own boss allows me to balance raising my 3 sons, including one newborn, with work. This is why my biggest project to date, www.refund.me, is fully cloud-based. It gives me and everyone else at the company the flexibility to balance work and life.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
I clearly enjoy watching interviews with Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and reading about Sheryl Sandberg…I love her book! In practical terms my biggest influence is my own inspiration and confidence in the people I like. That keeps me moving forward.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
I am really proud of having accomplished a balance in life: raising my 3 sons (1,4,10) as a single Mom and running a sophisticated business at an international scale (we have customers from 110+ countries and deal with 250+ airlines around the world). My company is highly decentralized with coworkers in Germany, Spain, France, Washington, Miami, Seattlle and Palo Alto and all that based on cloud software, so we don’t have a traditional brick and mortar office. What does refund.me do?refund.me. is a worldwide passenger rights specialist. We help air passengers that have been delayed considerably get compensation according to European law. The whole process is seamless and effortless – all the customer has to do is sign a single paper. The rest is all as automated as possible so everything moves as quickly and accurately as possible. We’ve proved popular and successful so far: in just 2 years we’re processing claims from more than 110 countries and against more than 250 airlines.
How did you come across your idea?
My friend pointed out this law in European legislation, EC 261/2004, and I realized there wasn’t a great service taking the pain out of claiming these refunds – if you do it yourself it’s very cumbersome and time-consuming. The airlines tend to make this an excessively difficult process to discourage people from claiming. So we developed technology that puts claiming at your fingertips… you claim in a matter of seconds, all from your smartphone or desktop. If you’re eligible, you’ll automatically receive a Power of Attorney to sign. And that’s it. We handle the rest – including going to court if necessary. And all that based on one core principle: no win-no fee.
What makes you different from everyone else?
Everyone is different somehow. What makes us different is our vision. We believe there is a severe lack of awareness and respect of passengers rights not just in one particular market, but worldwide. We want to help people become aware of their rights wherever they may be. We want people from across the world to know they can come to refund.me for their airline claims.
Since you are also a mom… How do you balance your personal and professional life?
The beauty of running a fully cloud-based company is that everyone’s schedule – not just mine – is flexible. You can shape your schedule around your personal life, whether you’re a morning person or a night owl. In my case, this allows me to bring my 2 sons to school and pick them up every day, have meetings in between, cuddling my third boy who is 10 month right now on the way back. Since October 13 my schedule heavily depends on my newborns, which is why it’s been so important for me to surround myself with an excellent team.
Have you made any adjustments to your personal and professional life to juggle these two roles?
Of course, the first step on the road to success as a working mom is defining your top priorities for yourself, your family and your job. I used to ask myself questions such as: “What are the balls that absolutely cannot be dropped? What are the work projects that I need to overachieve on? What are key things that my family needs to keep the trains on the track?” Answering these questions has helped me prioritize.
What is the greatest obstacle you have faced in achieving the success you desire? How do you overcome it?
It took me some time to learn and appreciate that you cannot be everybody’s darling. In personal life and business, you need to make decisions every day and take a stand! Someone is always alienated. But you have to learn and accept that that is the very nature of life.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs that want to start their own company?
The best business advice I’ve received is a quote by Karim Seddiki: “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will”.