Q: What brought you to this specific career path?
A: I was studying at Columbia Business School in New York. Whilst there, I made a website 'Date My School' for people to connect from different schools. It was huge and I became a dating entrepreneur overnight! I decided to go back to Europe and focus on creating a new style of dating app.
Q: Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you?
A: When I was trying to raise money to launch Once, I got in touch with a private banker who had a wealthy client who was interested in investing in me. I went to Nice and took a cab to his property and ended up in a meeting with a mob guy! Another funny moment was right at the beginning of setting up my company, and I wanted to raise money. I only had two employees so I wanted us to look bigger than we were. I hired actors to look like my employees, so when investors visited the office we looked bigger. It worked.
Q: What do you think makes your company stand out?
A: Once champions slow dating. Once isn't a "swiping app with a marketing twist", it is different. You can have the best idea you want but you need the right people to make the idea a reality — ultimately, I have the best team around every day making Once a reality and grow.
Q: What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
A: Ownership: give people ownership. Trust them and delegate tasks accordingly.
Q: How do you define "Leadership"?
A: Three words: sharing, trust and work.
Q: What advice would you give to other CEOs about the best way to manage a large team?
A: You can't manage more than five people. Create smaller teams within the company who have direct reports.
Q: What are your "5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO" and why.
A: 1. It's going to be much, much harder than you think.
2. Be careful with who you bet with.
3. Take the time you need to hire your team, especially the first person.
4. Do first and think after; try lots of things and make mistakes. This is how you learn.
5. Work more.
Q: Can you give us your favorite "Life Lesson Quote"?
A: J F Kennedy, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." I love this quote because the harder the problem, the less competition there is!