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Interview Marie Amigues
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Marie Amigues Founder and CEO of Altagram a Video Game Localization & Audio Production Specialist

Can you please explain to us what is Altagram and how you started it? Is it your first business experience?

Our company, Altagram, is based in Berlin and offers video game localization. We have a team of over 25 people internally and we work with a lot of freelancers and external consultants. The company is almost 2 years old and I have been CEO and founder of another company doing the same kind of business in Berlin for over 7 years. It is my second experience as a CEO.

What are the challenges and obstacles you faced as a web entrepreneur?

The main challenge I faced in both companies is recruitment. It is hard to find the right people interested in working for a company of our size. The thing is that the most experienced people are the most complicated to get and they don’t always match the ethos of our company after years of working in a hierarchical structure, although I face less of that problem every day now. Regarding the obstacles I would say that it is always expensive and time consuming to find the right people and get them up to speed with our growth.

In answer to one of our questions you rated your fear of failure as 1/5. How have you been able to overcome it in your work experience?

I don’t have any fear of failure because at the moment I am confident of the way we are doing business. We are achieving great results and our customers are happy. As for the future? I’m pretty sure that things will go well if I listen to my clients and keep trying out different things. Sometimes failure can be positive because there are always lessons you can take from it. So no, I don’t fear failure…

What are the opportunities and resources that helped you in your achievements?

You have to know that when I started the first company in Berlin, I didn’t speak a word of German. The organization which helped me the most to build my company was Berlin Partner and then through Berlin Partner I learnt about other programs and applied to IBB for GRW and GSUB subsidies. Before creating the company in Berlin, I spent 6 months with my ex-French business partner and his team to learn the workflow and industry specification and it helped me a lot as well.

I had always wanted to start my own company, so whilst working in other jobs I was always trying to learn from the many different experiences and challenges that companies were facing.

What are you still planning to achieve?

I’ve been working in this business for 10 years and things change quickly. Beside the services we are offering to our clients, I’m looking to develop something that could be a little bit more disruptive, something more mobile or web oriented. I’m also currently looking into growing in other countries. So maybe in ten years, we will have several branches in the world.

Could you summarize for us in brief what you have learned from your business experience?

I would say that the most important thing I have learned is to really know and trust your associate, the person you are creating a company with. It is also important to have a great accountant and to be clear about your budget at all times, with everyone involved. And most important of all, don’t be scared of trying! It’s better to regret something you did than regret not doing it.

Could you mention a woman role model who inspired you in your business career?

There was a woman I met a long time ago, before starting my business called Odile Limpach from Ubisoft. You know, 9 years ago, video game was a male dominated industry. Being not only a woman but also a mother, it was not an enticing picture for me. So it was a really good sign and source of inspiration to see that she went out and was able to make a name for herself in this industry. I thought that if she could do it, then I could make it too.

Did you ever have a mentor who supported you? In which way?

I didn’t have a mentor but my previous shareholders helped me to build my business and when I started, they helped me to make some decisions as well. I have to say that I’m close to other entrepreneurs (women and men) with whom we discuss and share our experience – it helps me to think bigger/different.

Did you access and use any business support services in your local/national ecosystem? If so at what stage of business creation-development did you get that support?

Yes. I was helped by Berlin Partner and get local subsidies from IBB and GSUB. They helped me out at different stages but the most important stage was the creation of both of my companies. They supported each companies on 30% of the investment for up to 3 years. It was really helpful! GSUB also helped me to hire people under certain conditions during the first years of my activity. Currently I’m working with a consultant who is partially paid through the coaching program from IBB.

Could you tell us about your overall experience with them and if they have met your needs?

Their support was very useful. Of course it is difficult to fill all those forms in, it takes a lot of time and discipline… but it helps you make things clearer about what you really want to do and how much you want to invest. It is not an easy thing to do and it can be an obstacle for some people. The quality of the service is very good, they really know what they are doing. It takes a bit of time to get the money back but it is the case everywhere.

What do you believe are the 3 main reasons why we have few women as founders in web entrepreneurship and why is it that those who are there seem to have difficulties in scaling up?

My impression is that women don’t see themselves as entrepreneurs because their main role in
the society is still to have babies and to be there for the family. This is changing fast, but it is still an area where we should make a lot of progress.

I’m lucky to have very strong and independent grandmothers and mother, so it helped me to be confident. Also women are not educated to be entrepreneurs, they also usually have to make a choice between having a career and having a family. While you can do both!

It is not easy for women at all. The pregnancy is also something that can be very difficult to deal with in a professional environment. But I would say that the problem is mainly because we don’t see ourselves doing this, being a CEO, creating our own company and having a happy life as well and enjoying our time with our kids, friends, etc.

Which concrete measures should be taken to bring more women in digital entrepreneurship and to support those who are already in the field?

During job interviews, it is quite obvious that men are not presenting themselves the same way as women. In the same industry, men are mostly involved in software development and video game business while women are more into marketing and communication. Why is that? Is this because we are educated like this? Because people see us more like this? Or is it our own perception?

I truly believe we have to be educated and encouraged to choose whatever activities we want to perform, regardless of any prejudices or gender specific myths. You can see a real effort to involve girls in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) programs so why not for entrepreneurship as well?

How do you think business support organizations and stakeholders ecosystems should revisit their offers and methods to better reach out to women and more effectively meet their needs?

They should organize networking events, discussions, and debates… The key is to meet people who are doing the same things than you do and to exchange with them. The Womenize! event that you organized was in this direction and it worked very well. They could also set up something like a summer university dedicated to women into business/tech, sharing experience as CEO, etc.

What do you expect from a network/project like WeHubs and how do you think you can contribute to it?

It is a great initiative and I’m really happy to be part of it. I really feel this kind of help could have a greater impact on women and I will try to help you by reinforcing the network as much as I can.