MoneyTalk With WILD Co-founder & Extremes Lover Helene
“[Financial independence] means being able to cover my basic needs, but equally have the freedom to enjoy what I love most: being outdoors, travel, see my family who is spread around the world.”
Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a world traveller, Belgian-Polish-French, lived in 7 countries, fascinated by outdoors, sports, trying to push the boundaries of life by testing the extremes. Some of those include ice swimming, running 100km trail races in the mountains, half ironman,... You should join me in one of my next events! (or join one of my communities: PeakAI if you’re an AI researcher / founder / investor; or the Startup Cycle club)!
Professionally, I have a mix of Business and Tech background: I have a Maths degree and a Masters in Financial Risks; I started my career in trading and as a Quant in a Hedge Fund - which I loved, before moving to consulting, where I advised Fortune 500 companies on various topics. One of my important clients was Fannie Mae which I advised on how to apply AI to their risk models and how to apply Blockchain technologies for the settlement and clearing of their trades - a loop back to my first experience as a Quant, handling vast amount of data.
I did various other things, such as setting up an angel investment platform or advising a member of the House of Lords on how to get more women into tech - a topic very close to my heart - before launching WILD.
What inspired you to launch WILD?
I'm gluten intolerant and only discovered it when I was 26. It means 26 years of being pale, lacking nutrients, living with constant pain. Traditional medicine is very much reactive: you get sick, you cure yourself (or try to).
I thought there must have been another way.
We collect huge amounts of datasets today as individuals - from our phones, wearables, allergy, DNA tests,... But we still don't understand our bodies.
That's why we created WILD. To never be ill again.
We switch to a new model: the preemptive “datalogy” world. Understand your body through your data and act on it, to live smarter.
We initially start helping runners, cyclists and swimmers with their training. We get data from their wearables, daily check-ins, provide them insights and recommendations on how to train, sleep, eat smarter.
What’s your relationship like with money and personal finance?
Friendly? Money is a leverage to do things for me. I guess I'm a typical 'Millennial’: I live to have experiences. That's what really makes me vibrate. From activities to travels, I really feel alive when I push the boundaries and my extremes. Money helps me do that, so it's important for me to be able to sustain it.
Do you manage your money differently as an entrepreneur?
I've always been very cautious with the way I spend money. I believe you supply to your needs when you believe it's essential for you - for instance, in some poor areas of the world, people believe having a mobile phone is vital, and will do what is needed to get it.
As an entrepreneur, I need to supply to both my personal and my business needs - and I need to understand how to spend money very differently for both, as well as defining the baseline differently. I can go very cheap for myself, but it's not always the best solution for the company, so it's important to keep in mind that sometimes, 'cheap is expensive’, and spend money wisely.
What does financial independence mean to you?
It means being able to cover my basic needs, but equally have the freedom to enjoy what I love most: being outdoors, travel, see my family who is spread around the world.
What’s the one thing you indulge in?
Or a cute little new screw for my bike. Just can't hold myself.
What is the best financial decision you have ever made?
Saving. Going cheap when I was younger, not having a flat and being a constant traveller when I was a consultant, which eventually provided me with the necessary tools for my first startup.
What is Vestpod for you?
A place to read stories breaking taboos about money.
Own up. Have you made any major financial faux-pas?
Not yet! Being an entrepreneur puts you on the edge constantly. That's where I am, digging into my savings to be able to sustain WILD and myself. It could be considered as a faux pas, but I guess that's what entrepreneurs do… playing your cards full in, because we believe so strongly in the huge opportunity of doing it.
Not yet having kids definitely helps of course.
As a woman though, it's also my responsibility to make the status quo change and be an example in that way: maybe being both an entrepreneur and a parent is one of the next ultra-marathons I'll sign up to?
Have you ever experienced a financial epiphany? A sort of wake-up call, where you suddenly think - “I must start doing things differently”?
I would say start saving again, but right now that's not possible. It's an exciting and scary thing to be an entrepreneur, but I wouldn't trade my place for anything in the world.
Any favourite book & podcast you could recommend?
So many, yes.
Recently, Principles from Ray Dalio, on how to be radically open minded, adopt full transparency and set principles in your life - something I strongly agree with: you can't reach anything if you don't have a goal. Having principles helps you reach those objectives, in a measurable and timed manner - pretty much like a race for an athlete.
My favourite Podcast is the one of Entrepreneur First, the deep tech incubator programme I've been through. It just portrays really well, truly and crudely what being a founder is like.
Where can we find you?
My company: www.wildnow.co
Medium: Interviews of our athletes - from amateurs to hard core pro’s
Thanks a lot!