Charlotte Apperloo on product, diversity and her journey with Antler in Berlin

An interview with Charlotte Apperloo on her startup journey with Antler in Berlin, on why now is the time to found her own business and what it takes.

Antler in Continental Europe

May 19, 2023
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Welcome to Antler, Charlotte! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I am originally from the Netherlands. I came to Berlin about ten years ago, which was a very spontaneous decision. I studied Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Amsterdam but never really worked in this area. When I came to Berlin I started working in the marketing department of Zalando after which I transitioned to the marketing department of a travel tech company. One day, while experiencing a problem with a marketing tool we were using, I reached out to the product department and ended up landing a job there. I was there to fix my own problem, I was my own customer. It was an exciting challenge because I knew what needed to be built, but I had to learn everything about how to actually build a product along the way.

"I was there to fix my own problem. I was my own customer."

Why is now the right time to found your own start-up? 

I think most people that I've worked with know that I've always mentioned that I want to do my own thing. However, the timing was not right for me until recently. After working in various industries and experiencing different working environments, I now feel that I have gathered enough experience to start my own venture. I have been inspired by seeing others do it, and I now have the courage to go for it myself.

Additionally, I am driven by the lack of diversity within tech founder teams, and I believe that diverse teams are essential to building products that are truly representative of our society.

Can you elaborate on why you think diversity is important to build products? 

Diverse teams are crucial in creating products that are relevant to our society. Our society is diverse, and so the people building our companies and products should reflect that diversity. Having a diverse team can enhance the quality of a product by ensuring that it meets the needs of a diverse range of users. It can also foster innovation by bringing together different perspectives and ideas.

Why did you decide to build your company with Antler? 

I had been considering starting my own business for a while when a friend suggested I look into joining a program to help me along the way. That's when I discovered Antler. As a first-time founder, I felt that it was important to have support along the way, and that's exactly what Antler provides. I already had experience in building a product, validating it, and marketing it, but I knew that there was still a lot that I didn't know. Additionally, finding the right co-founder is critical when starting a company, and I found that Antler had the right people with the same mindset, ambitions, and drive.

"I felt that it was important to have support along the way, and that's exactly what Antler provides."

What surprised you the most since you joined Antler?

Initially, I was hoping to find an industry expert that had come with a specific problem to the program. However, I quickly realized that it was more important to find someone with whom I had a real connection and shared the same values. My focus shifted to finding someone with whom I could work closely with over the coming years. I was fortunate enough to find that match, and we are now exploring ideas and getting to know each other on a deeper level to see if we can make it work in the long term.

What are you currently working on and where do you want to be by the end of the year?

Oh, that’s a difficult question. In the first weeks, it is quite intense. You learn a lot, meet new people, you are ideating, and brainstorming. It is like a roller coaster. One day you think you have it all figured out and the next day you are asking yourself ‘What am I doing?!’. But then you realize that everyone is going through the same process and we support each other. I would say trust the process, enjoy the ride and try to make the best out of it.

"Trust the process, enjoy the ride, and make the best out of it."

I am also really grateful for the co-founder I have found here. We both support each other, we are encouraging each other even though it is hard sometimes. Especially when you have been working on something for days or weeks and then you do the validation and have to throw the idea to the bin.

Where do you see yourself in one year?

Everything is still in the open but I hope that I will get to work on a problem that I truly believe in with people who are as driven as I am to solve this problem.

Do you have any tips for people who are thinking about founding their own business?

I think that if you want to found your start-up, Antler is definitely the place to be. It is helpful for all the reasons I have mentioned before and I want to emphasize again that finding a co-founder is crucial and this is the place where you will find like-minded people who are 100% committed.

Secondly, I think that gaining experience in a hyper-growth environment also helps. I worked at Flink and other startups, but also established companies and it really helped me to get an insight into how things are done in different stages of a company. Surround yourself with highly skilled people who will enhance your own growth and development.

Lastly, I would like to say just do it. Entrepreneurship is like jumping into cold unknown water and you have to trust yourself that you can learn how to swim.

Do you have a recommendation for a book or podcast or any other media that you get your inspiration from or learn from?

As a product person, I'm a very big Marty Cagan fan. His insights into product development are invaluable. However, it's important to remember that product development is not to be done exactly by the book. Learn from your customers, whether through feedback, surveys, or direct communication. Always seek for new sources of inspiration, go to meet-ups, and talk to your customers as often as you can.

To find the people and funding you need to build a world-changing company, apply to an Antler residency.

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Antler in Continental Europe

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