Founder Of The Month is a blog series, where Women in Tech DK interview female tech entrepreneurs, who want to share their stories and tip and tricks from their own startup journeys.
ArtOmonde is the artists’ interactive showroom. An app where the user can see art, meet artists and try out paintings on their wall. The user is encouraged to contact the artists and visit local galleries and ateliers.
Mette Søeberg is the founder and CEO of artOmonde, and she had the idea due to a mispurchase of a painting and a unique experience in a small atelier in Paris. When she was on maternity leave the idea turned into a dream of having her own company, which led to artOmonde, that was founded in July 2016.
Mette have more than 12 years of corporate experience with IT project management and she is the mother of two boys. Despite having many opportunities for a corporate career with a big salary, she chose to start her own business. In Mettes previous jobs she was looking for the “why”. Why are we doing these IT projects? Who will benefit from it? After starting artOmonde, she can see how her costumers really benefit from the app.
1. What is the most important learning you had?
I think I learn something every day. I’ve been positively surprised about the many people that want to help, as soon as you reach out to them. There is always someone who knows someone. I’ve started my company by myself and I have enjoyed every step of the way. But it is difficult being “a lonely rider” within tech, that is fast moving and expensive. Being just one made me make the classic mistake to focus on and use my experience from project management within IT. It made the development process fun and meant that my product was delivered as scheduled and met the budget. But I underestimated the importance of a go to market strategy. Quite simple, I didn’t know what to do. I released my app and marketed it on an art fair, without having a webpage, a Facebook page or Instagram profile. I did not even bring a business card. This led to many questions followed by a couple of busy days. I realized that it was time for a partner and/or an investor, that has the skills that I don’t have. And this is the status right now.
2. Why are you the best to run your company?
ArtOmonde is a very young company and the idea is still being formed. The background for the idea is my story and for the time being that is essential in a sale. But the company is growing. I’ve just got an intern, met a possible partner and hired a student. I don’t wish to continue on my own, but I love having the overview and the full responsibility.
It is fun, I can use my experience as well as I learn something new every day. My dream is that artOmonde grows and becomes a global leader within digital presentation of artists, that combines the digital world with real life. And when that time comes someone else might be better than me to run the company. But for now, I love it and I wouldn’t like to do anything else.
3. Would you recommend other females to start their own company and why?
Absolutely! If you feel like it, just do it. There is no guideline that tells you whether or not the timing is right. Follow the flow and you will see. For me it was a sick leave, due to stress, that led me to my dream. Not the most obvious starting point for your own business, one would think. But it turned out to be the perfect timing for me. I am a mother of two and have a background within IT, in both the private and public sectors. And I have never seen myself as an entrepreneur. I like to have colleagues and be a part of something bigger. But I realized, that I had to do something else, if I want the life that I dream of. A life that is giving for my family, me as a person and my work. And that is the life I have now. I am the creative part of product development and have close contact to the customers and users. It gives me the flexibility to be with my family, when I want to. I feel that everything I learn is a gift for me in the future. Whether I succeed with artOmonde or something else. My learnings will take me to the next step, where I want to be. Having your own company makes you define your own future, and make you able to make a difference for someone. One day one of my customers told me, that an old lady in Holland was trying her paintings on her walls from home. She is disabled and can’t go to Denmark, but with the artOmonde app she is able to try out her favorite artists paintings on her walls and at the same time stay in close contact with her. That one story makes all the effort worthwhile for me.
4. What is your best tip to staying healthy and productive while running a startup?
Enjoy the process! A positive mind keeps you both healthy and productive. When you are happy and open minded it reflects the people around you, both private and in your business. If I have an off day, if I’m stock or overwhelmed, I go for a walk, take a day off or work from a place where I am alone. That clears my mind and helps me seeing things from a new angle. Surprisingly, most people admire that. My boys keep me focused on something else than artOmonde and I am very grateful for that. And of course. Take care of your body. Both training and cost. I am not that consequent, but I do yoga as often as possible and do some training as well. When my body feels good I feel good.
5. What is the biggest mistake you have made as a founder?
I see my mistakes as an opportunity to see things from a different angle. And one of these would be that I didn’t discuss the business plan with my customers from the beginning. I focused on the features and included customers in the development process but not businesswise. Strange, because I’ve wanted artOmonde to be my only source of income, from the very beginning. I’ve enjoyed every bit of the process but realized quite late that if I want to be able to deliver the best product on my market it is necessary to think about the income. It seems logical but when you work with something that is funny and makes you happy you tend to focus on that. At least that is what I did. But nothing is for free. Especially not IT-development, where I am using a Danish development company and would like to continue our good cooperation. One of the reasons that the business plan is a necessity for me and artOmondes future. I actually think that the timing is absolutely perfect. Because the timing is right for your company when it’s right for you. And I haven’t been ready before now.
6. What is your best advice to future entrepreneurs?
Be open to new ideas and embrace criticism. Positive as well as negative. Critic is the biggest gift you can get, because it makes you stop and see the things from a different angle. Seek other networks than just tech. I can warmly recommend it. I have a huge network of women entrepreneurs, that do everything from teaching, to tech to healing to therapist to business coaches etc. They have another approach, that I learn from and make my mindset different than my competitors. This network keeps me grounded and able to act between the fast-moving world of tech and the reflecting world of art. And finally, define why you want to start a business. Both businesswise and private. Consider this before you start. I have a family with two small kids and one of the purposes of having my own business is to be flexible and be able to be with them. The fact that I can work from wherever I am, and at what time I want, makes that possible. Consider how much time you want to spent on your business and family.
Do you want a fast-growing business or is slower the best way for you? Do you want vacation or can do without? Do you want to be in an office every day, once in a while or by yourself? We are all different and there is nothing right or wrong. But you have to know what you want. And most importantly work with something you really like. It reflects your personal life positively and you will meet people that inspires you.
So, get started! And remember to enjoy every step of the way!
You are more than welcome to contact Mette on firstname.lastname@example.org.