In our latest #SheFounders Q&A we talk to Founder of WildMeta, Amandine Flachs! Read on to learn more about her podcast 'Entrepreneurs Playing Games’, her work within the start-up community in London and why uncertainty is part of the journey!
You founded WildMeta in 2019 tell us what it’s all about?
I founded WildMeta with my co-founder, Alexandre Borghi, last year and we went full time in February right before lockdown here in the UK. We’re building AI-powered bots for esports and competitive video games. As CEO of WildMeta, I have spent the last 10 years supporting and working with early stage start-ups. This has given me the foundation to start WildMeta having worked with new technologies throughout my career. I have a good understanding of the different technical challenges and problems within the industry. It’s been 10 years in the making and now I’m taking the plunge and becoming a Founder myself, which is exciting! I recently posted my first vlog on my YouTube channel where I reflected on our journey over the last six months, it’s been a challenging but rewarding experience.
Tell us about your work supporting early stage start-ups?
I have been supporting early stage start-ups for the past 10 years, supporting innovative entrepreneurs in France, the USA and the UK. I started out within the tech industry when I was just 18. Since moving to the UK five years ago, I have been super involved in London’s startup ecosystem. It’s really interesting to see that you can re-use what you’ve learnt in one space and apply it to another industry and business.
What is it about the start-up world that you love so much?
I love the passion people within the start-up community have! When you’re working with Founders, the majority are not simply motivated by financial gain, they seem to be genuinely excited to solve issues. Founders and innovators usually have creative and resourceful qualities which I really admire.
Tell us about your podcast ‘Entrepreneurs Playing Games’
I started the podcast about a year ago. The initial concept was a Q&A style sit down chat where I would interview different start-up Founders about their experiences. What makes my podcast unique is the fact that I have incorporated gaming into the session. I found this really helped create a relaxed atmosphere and provided a real opportunity to bond, so my guest is more comfortable sharing their stories. I tend to prepare a set of questions; however, I’ve learnt with interviews the conversation can go in all different directions.
I had to rethink the format during lockdown as I couldn’t have guests over to my house. Unfortunately, I had to ditch the gaming aspect. However, doing the podcast remotely has given me an opportunity to interview different types of people from all over the world within the start-up scene and discuss a variety of different topics.
Is the gaming industry something you have always been interested in?
Gaming has always been a hobby of mine. I’m a big fan of the platform Twitch where you watch others play video games, there is a real community aspect to it which I love. This is what really brought me back into gaming after several years away from it. There can be some misconceptions surrounding the gaming industry. Lots of people, even within the start-up community, assume that it’s something 15-year-old kids do in their bedrooms at home! This is simply not the case. People from all over the world, from all different backgrounds love to game. You have to be open to educating yourself. There are many career opportunities within the industry and space for adults and yes, that includes women!
Have you got any advice for others who want to create content?
Get started! Know your target audience, the market fit, how you’re going to communicate it, what platforms you are going to use and remember to listen to feedback. Having worked with start-ups for so long, I have found that it’s the same with launching a product. People think they have to have everything perfectly planned ahead of time but like with anything in life, things evolve and improve over time. When you start doing any kind of content you always go back and spot things you want to improve for next time. When I first started doing the podcast, I was over thinking everything but it’s actually part of the process and it wouldn’t be as fun if it was all smooth sailing.
A lot of people have asked me ‘What do you get out of doing the podcast?’ I haven’t monetised the channel yet and stream it on different platforms. I am really passionate about getting different content out there, whether that be podcasts, vlogs or blogs. It’s a great opportunity to inspire others and create learning opportunities. I have built a network of like-minded individuals over the years, where we can share our experiences together and learn from one another which is really rewarding!
Tell us some of the challenges or barriers you’ve faced as a woman in tech.
When I was 18, studying Marketing and International Business in France, I was also working for a small start-up. This experience gave me an insight into the working world. I loved the start-up environment. I felt my opinion was truly valued and through my work there I knew I was making a difference. However, when I moved to a more corporate environment I didn’t fit in and had some real setbacks. Before this experience I had always thought if I opened my mouth, what I had to say would add benefit. This negative working experience showed me that I thrive in start-up environments, where I feel my voice is being heard. I need to work with people who speak their minds, where everyone’s opinion is valid, reactive and agile. It can be a real journey to find your place in your career and to figure out what you want to do in life.
Most of us can sometimes feel like we’re winging it and that imposter syndrome can kick in. What do you do to combat this?
I’m very open about the fact that I experience imposter syndrome. I think it’s important to note that it’s not just a female issue, it’s a human issue and you have to learn to live with it. I often think to myself ‘am I making sense’ or ‘am I prioritising the right work’. It’s easy to compare yourself to others, however, what helps me is to continuously learn and look at how I can improve. I do this by attending online events and courses. As soon as I come across something at work that I don’t have experience in, I make sure I do my research by reading, watching video content or I’ll chat to my network and ask for advice.
When I first moved to London for example, I had a lot to learn about the start-up scene here. I really embraced the community and went to as many events and networking opportunities that I could. It took me a good year just to get my foot in the door and to find my place. Having worked with emerging technologies, such as blockchain, VR, AR and now AI with Meta Wild, I am constantly learning new skills, tools and different ways of working as technology is always evolving. You have to be okay that its constantly moving or it is not the right space for you!
What is your career highlight?
What I’m doing right now with my start-up, WildMeta! In my recent vlog I talk about the fact that everyone always used to ask me ‘When are you going to start your own company?’ I’d always answer, ‘it’s not about wanting to be a Founder, it was more about finding the right time and the right people’. I met my Co-Founder six years ago and I knew I wanted to build something with him, however, it’s only now that we’ve found the right timing to just take the leap.
Having worked for the past 10 years in the start-up community, collaborating with lots of Founders, I have a wealth of knowledge behind me. However, nothing can prepare you for when you actually become a Founder yourself. Experiencing it first-hand is very challenging, but rewarding. This experience has helped me become a better mentor because I’ve been in their shoes. I am currently part of the VC fund Backed VC scout community, helping early stage Founders by giving them advice on their decks and providing networking opportunities. I find this work really rewarding.
Is the tech industry becoming more diverse?
When I mentor start-ups, I often choose to be in certain groups that provide opportunities for women and the BAME community. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help the individuals that are not represented. My network is very diverse, but it can be frustrating when you go to events and the panels are dominated by white males. The VC space, however, is getting more diverse which will have a huge impact on the representation of diverse Founders. I have noticed since doing my podcast, I have interviewed a lot of male Founders, men tend to be ready to tell their stories whereas women are more cautious. I need to be prepared to go the extra mile to make sure I am representing everyone.
What would you say to your 18-year-old self?
I would say keep going. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean your opinion isn’t valid. When I was younger many people within the professional world thought I was too young to make decisions. I’ve had many setbacks and failures where certain opportunities didn’t happen, or I had financial setbacks. I would tell my 18-year-old self that all these experiences make you stronger and it’s a great opportunity to learn from them. It’s okay to fail sometimes. If I didn’t take risks and try new things, I wouldn’t be me! I don’t fear failure anymore. I have taken lots of risks all my life and I wouldn’t change a thing. I took the risk of quitting school in France and moved to the US when I was young. Then, leaving my life in the US to move to London. Uncertainty is part of the journey.
If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what three items would you want to have with you?
A phone, a book about how to build a makeshift boat, and some sort of signal device that can send help so I can get out of there!
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