How nice that you could take the time for our Role Model Interview and would like to give us a little insight into your personal and professional life.
1. you are the co-founder and CEO of Pulse Advertising, one of the most renowned global influencer marketing agencies worldwide. What was your career path like leading up to the startup?
I always found the fashion industry super exciting and then in my master’s I had the chance to write a business plan as my master’s thesis instead of a theoretical paper. In 2014, I wrote my thesis at ESADE in Barcelona on the topic of “Founding a Beachwear Label” and put it into action together with my boyfriend. In the course of marketing the fashion label, we came into contact with influencers for the first time and quickly realized that their influence played a much greater role in our sales than placements in leading German women’s magazines, for example. Based on the success, we started to implement smaller campaigns for friends and acquaintances with our own companies.
2. who does not know them? The famous stories of the wine evening together and the “one trillion dollar idea” that resulted. How can we imagine your beginnings in 2014?
In fact, after we decided over dinner and a bottle of wine to start an agency in addition to the fashion company, things happened very quickly. Right after dinner we secured the domain and registered the company. The next day we started the development of our website and within less than two weeks we had our first customer. The first 6 months we built up the company as a couple from home, before we rented the first office and the first team members joined.
Was it clear from the start between you and your co-founder Christoph Kastenholz who would take on which part in the founding and expansion of the company, or did you “grow into” your roles here?
We have been quite aware of our strengths and personality types since the beginning, so the distribution of roles happened very naturally.
4. at the beginning there is often the challenge: a lot of time, little budget and opinions here range from “grow fast on credit” to “do everything yourself at your own expense”. How did that work out for you and what would you recommend to others who are at this (financial) starting point?
It’s very difficult to decide that for others, because of course it depends very much on the company and product you’re selling. In our case, as a consultancy and agency, there were few initial costs, so there was no real need for funding here. If you can afford it and there is no need for financing, then I would recommend maintaining your independence as long as somehow possible. Due to our positive cash flows and good results, we also never had the problem that our independence cost us growth. On the contrary: I believe our independence is the engine of our success, as we can try things out in an agile, courageous and self-determined manner and thus drive innovation.
5. you are now around 125 people in the company, spread across a total of 5 locations (New York, London, Hamburg/Berlin, Milan, Asia-Pacific region). What challenges have you faced as your company has grown?
It is very important to us that all employees across the various locations see themselves as one team and that customers also receive a uniform product with quality standards. It’s not the easiest thing to do across different languages, time zones, cultures, but I think we’re meeting the challenge very well. J
6. has anything changed for you personally with the growth of the company?
I’m still very much in the know about everything that’s going on. Again, it’s insanely cool to see that I’m not involved in very much anymore, but the innovation runs “by itself” and especially becomes much better if I were involved…haha.
For all of you who might be thinking, “What an exciting company”: What do you look for when you hire a person and who might you also currently need?
We are always looking for talented employees, as we are growing rapidly and there is no end in sight for the time being. At our core, we are looking for individuals who have passion for the subject, are absolute team players, and enjoy personal as well as professional growth and change. Innovation and that means constant development is extremely important to us. Therefore, a passion for change is essential to enjoy the task.
8. your references include companies such as N26, Disney, MAC or Mini. How do you manage to convince such big and famous entrepreneurs of your offer?
I think the big agencies have rested too much on the tried and true practices (TV, print, etc.) and given too little relevance to social media marketing. This has opened doors for young and agile companies like us, who have specialized in just that.
Is there an “insider tip” you would give to others who are just about to embark on the adventure of entrepreneurship?
Haha…Secret tip certainly not. But the clear awareness that challenges always have the most growth potential and are therefore extremely important has always helped me to overcome obstacles and face challenges in a positive mood.
10. do you have a tendency or a “forecast” how your market here will develop in the future?
All forecasts point to growth, and we can only confirm that. If we look at the relevance of social media for Generations X and Z and all those that follow, then even conservatively, the share of advertising spend in social media will continue to grow significantly over the next few years.
In our online magazine, we are particularly committed to the topic of female empowerment. What does this term mean to you personally?
To see one’s femininity as a strength. Each of us has classically “typically feminine” and “typically masculine” sides that vary in strength. Both have advantages and relevance, you just have to learn to use them properly.
12. is there an experience or a situation in which you thought, “That certainly wouldn’t have happened to a man.” And if so, how did you deal with it?
Honestly, throughout my career, I have always found “being a woman” to be extremely valuable. Surely there are situations that would have gone differently as a man, but the other way around certainly the same. I am very fortunate to have 100% fantastic employees who happen to be 80% female, but honestly that is completely irrelevant to us in the selection process.
Dear Lara, I still have a lot of questions, because your life is incredibly exciting. At this point, however, I’ll limit myself to an outlook: What topics, projects or initiatives would you like to explore in the future?
Haha…We continue to work on integrating social media marketing holistically into our clients/customers’ marketing plans. We’re seeing more and more clients/customers building their overall brand strategy based on developments in digital media, and that’s super exciting.
Dear Lara, thank you so much for your time and your inspiring answers! Your (professional) life shows that with commitment, passion, the willingness to learn and a good idea, a lot is possible!
About the author
Kinga Bartczak advises, coaches and writes on female empowerment, new work culture, organizational development, systemic coaching and personal branding. She is also the managing director of UnternehmerRebellen GmbH and publisher of the FemalExperts magazine .