portraits: Zászlós Mariann
In our next interview, you will get a chance to hear from Luca Jakab, the proud owner of ArtConsious – a London based startup, which is an online marketplace and knowledge hub for art lovers and collectors. She believes that women have the same opportunities as men within the sphere of startups, and if they use the right soft-skills they can become successful CEO’s.
Please Introduce yourself and your startup
I live in London since 2013, and I am a qualified cultural manager. It was my dream for a very long time to create such an online platform that can connect and represent multiple creative artists and venues, and through which modern art and design trends can be interpreted more easily. Currently, I am working on a new project named ArtConsious. It is an online marketplace and knowledge hub through which artists can introduce themselves to an international market. The site concentrates on the Central-Eastern-European region.
What gave you the idea to create this startup? What was the motivation?
The first time I came across online art-trade was in London. I felt that digitalization and online solutions can boost awareness and help the development of (yet) undiscovered markets, such as the Hungarian one. I have previously managed online galleries in London, and ArtConsious will be a more complex version of these.
Were you not scared to start your company all ‘on your own’ as being ‘just a woman’?
I never had a doubt about women not being capable of things that men are… I was raised and educated by the fact that men and women are equal. Within my family, there are several women who are successful and at the same time independent, so it never really occurred to me as a question if I am capable or not. There were some – mostly Hungarian – women who tried to ‘protect’ me from this project, but within the business world of startups, I never needed to face any hardships. Probably if you would ask me about my experiences in catering I would have a completely different opinion.
What type of obstacles did you come across in the beginning? Do you think they would have been easier to fight if you were a man?
I would not say that these obstacles occurred just because of my gender. I see it day by day that other startuppers regardless of their sex, must face the exact same problems as I do. These are mainly because of external factors (the amount of funds you can access, bureaucracy, technical difficulties) and on the other hand the inner doubts (Am I good enough? Is the idea great enough for the market? Is it possible to develop it fast enough?). I would even dare to say that women are in a better situation since they are more likely to ask for help when they need it and they are not scared to speak about their problems. In my opinion, it isolates men and makes it even harder for them to develop, because most of them are not open about these things.
photo: Zászlós Mariann
What do you think, are the positive aspects of a woman being a Startupper?
Based on international surveys we can state that women’s strengths compared to men are the following: women are better at listening and paying attention to others and their problems. Based on my opinion: they tend to collaborate more, they are less competitive, have less preconceptions and are more open to their surroundings, both emotionally and intellectually.
Also, women are more focused on their personal development, just as motivating their surrounding – this is probably coming from the fact that women are the coherent forces of the families. I believe that women who combine these soft skills with a huge amount of willingness, hard work and wish to prove to the world that they can do it, become the most successful business ladies.
Do you know any specific associations who stand for female Startuppers?
In Hungary, I would outline Women Startup Competition. They try to reach out to as many countries as possible in order to boost women startuppers. In the past 5-10 years, in England a whole industry was developed on the basis of this. Here you can find tons of associations, not even speaking about the outstanding coaches, who provide guidance and consulting to women.
Do you think that investors take you as seriously as they do men?
I can’t judge this realistically, but I can surely tell you this: when you are meeting with an investor you can’t think intuitively, as women tend to. In these situations, you need to think about numbers, statistics and market trends. But these are things that anyone can learn, so I would say women have the same chances.
When you are hiring a new team member, do you prefer to engage men or women?
I really could not care less about this, but if I would really need to choose I would prefer to have a mixed team. I know that there are certain industries that underrepresent one or the other sex because of various reasons. In ours (arts) we have a larger number of women. Therefore, I prefer to use the hiring process that I got used to in England: the candidate does not display his/her picture, sex, age, and origin. Like this, the engager is forced to choose the best candidate based on their qualities and not looks and personal characters. The most important for me is the experience of proficiency!
What do you consider as success?
For me success is when we meet our client’s expectations and keep our promises: give them the opportunity to introduce themselves to an international market (mostly the British), build their partnerships and networks and boost their sales.
What are your plans for the future?
In the upcoming years, I would like to concentrate on my project and to develop the platform and the business strategies, add features and gain more and more partners. Concerning my personal plans, I would like to have my own family one day. There we will see how I can match being a startupper and a mother, but I am sure I will be able to find a solution, as I did to many other things.
What would your advice be for other women, who would like to launch their own startup? What do you think is the most important thing they should pay attention to?
My advice is not to concentrate on the fact that you are a woman, but to concentrate on your strengths and try to get the best out of them, plus find the right team members who add to your values and complete your ‘weaknesses’ with their strengths