Welcome to Antler, Samira! To begin, could you tell me what brought you here?
I’m here at Antler because I want to develop my business, find my co-founder, and realize my vision of starting and scaling my own company.
Throughout my career, I had the opportunity to solve challenging problems and innovate while working in consulting, helping clients successfully manage digital change and create the best customer experiences. Consulting was a great way to kickstart my career because of the steep learning curve it gave me. To build on my experience in consulting, I spent the last two years completing my executive MBA in innovation and business creation where I broadened my knowledge in entrepreneurship, worked on startup projects, and got closer to the core of the startup ecosystem.
Now, I am taking my experience and education and focusing on execution - taking the next step by building my own company.
What sectors are you most passionate about?
Rather than an industry focus I have a mission focus. I have worked in various different industries: from retail and consumer products to telco, life sciences and the public sector. I know that whatever it is that I do, I want to make an impact and change the status quo for the better. Across many different industries, I can leverage my expertise in platform businesses and ecosystems as well as my experience in strategy, digital transformation, and product management for inspiration on how to best attack the problems I am focused on. Overall, I believe that I have a strong growth mindset which enables me to look for new opportunities and solutions in any situation I find myself in.
What inspired you to take the entrepreneurial leap?
My life is surrounded by many people who have gone down the entrepreneurial path and seeing them turn their dreams into reality has been a big source of motivation for me to do the same. One source of inspiration has been my father. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in an entrepreneurial family and have him as a role model. From an early age, I was exposed to the advantages and disadvantages of running your own business and know that it’s hard work - yet, very rewarding. Above all, I learned to trust myself and I know that I am confident to take the plunge into entrepreneurship.
Was there a moment that made you feel that now was the time?
I turned thirty this year – which was a good reason for me to look back at what I had accomplished, the experiences I have had and ponder how I want to spend the next decade of my life. I realized that I have reached the point where the next step in my entrepreneurial journey would be to utilize everything I had learned and actually start building something.
How did Antler come up on your radar?
Emilia Theye, the founder of Clare&me, is actually a close friend of mine. I knew she began her entrepreneurial journey at Antler, so after sitting down with her over the summer, she motivated me to apply.
How has your experience been at Antler so far? Expectations versus reality?
It’s been great being around so many like-minded people with such diverse backgrounds, nationalities, experiences and interests. Antler has been a big source of inspiration for me. Emilia gave me many insights about Antler, but it’s safe to say that my expectations were exceeded. Whether that be the different group assignments for problem generation, ideation, and market sizing, sparring sessions with venture partners, or founders’ panel talks, everything is turned up ten degrees here and the energy is very high.
Finding a strong co-founder is a little bit like dating. You start with speed dating, at one point you get exclusive, and then you may notice that you have different interests or motivations, then you break up, and begin again. This is great because most startups fail because of the founding team. Here, you get the opportunity to try working with different people until you find the right one. If it works out, that’s great, but also if not, you still have the founder community and will be richer in relevant experience and closer to your goals.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about applying?
Just do it and trust the process. Things may be uncertain, but when nothing is certain anything is possible. Yes, your experience will be what you make of it, but at Antler what is certain is the people. You will learn how to build your own company alongside a strong network. Antler has given me the opportunity to start writing my very own success story, and I’m excited to see where the journey takes me next.
Want to join Samira and other exceptional founders? Applications for the Antler Berlin cohort starting January 16, 2023 are still open.