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Female Founders: Lissele Pratt of Capitalixe On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lissele Pratt.

As Director & Co-founder at Capitalixe, Lissele Pratt helps companies in high-risk industries, obtain the latest financial technology and banking solutions.

With 6+ years of experience in the financial services industry and her global perspective, the entrepreneurial-minded Lissele is a recognized expert in foreign exchange, payments, and financial technology.

Lissele was the first-ever female to be awarded top salesperson at her previous company and has recently been listed on the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe Finance 2021 list.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Growing up, I moved around a lot. I was born in London, then moved to Spain, then moved to Thailand, and finally settled in London when I was 15. Because of this, I missed a lot of schooling and when I was there, I hated it. I knew that university wasn’t for me, so after college, I went straight into a career in finance working as a Junior FX broker. I’ve always been interested in economics and how the financial world works. I love that the industry is always rapidly changing due to the adoption of financial technology.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

This year I was lucky enough to have been listed on the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe Finance 2021 list. This had always been a dream of mine since I was a teenager. I remember looking through the list every year at work thinking, ‘one day I’ll be in Forbes’. It just goes to show, with a little hard work and determination, your dreams can come true.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

A few weeks after starting my business, I decided that it would be a good idea to attend a client meeting, even though I had the flu. Well, it’s safe to say the meeting wasn’t my best. Halfway through, I had to excuse myself to find a tissue because my nose was running like a tap and I also kept on coughing. Lesson to self, take a day off if you’re sick, you’re no good if you can’t work properly!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m most grateful to my co-founder and life partner Ivan Kovachev. I’m extremely lucky to have found someone who shares the same vision as me, as well as the same entrepreneurial spirit. Launching and running a business definitely has its ups and downs. Having someone to support and motivate me through the challenges and celebrate the successes with me is what keeps me going.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

It’s a known fact that companies with female founders get a lot fewer investment opportunities than their male counterparts, so I think this is a good place to start. Investors should be finding ways to remove unconscious and conscious bias towards female founders. This seems like a no-brainer as there’s so much evidence to highlight the value a female founder brings. Women-led teams generate a 35% higher return on investment than all-male teams. Strategies to ensure that women are represented more in the investment world need to be implemented.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

I think one of the most important reasons is to inspire other women, particularly the younger generation, to launch their own companies. As a female founder, in an extremely male-dominated industry, it’s really important to me that young women everywhere know that there is a place for them in the finance world. There’s been so many times in my career, where I’ve been the only woman in an office full of men and I really hope that, as we get more representation, women everywhere can believe that they too can start their own businesses in any industry they’re interested in.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

Myth 1: “Women are too emotional to run a business.”

Women are not fragile or overly emotional at all. The emotions they do bring to their business are actually strengths that can massively benefit their company. Tapping into your own emotions, as well as the emotions of your client’s, employees, and senior leadership team is crucial. Why? Because It highlights how passionate you are about your company and the people you work with.

Myth 2: ‘Entrepreneurs have to work 20-hours days and spend all their time on their business.’

I think it’s so important for people to have a good work-life balance. I love attending yoga classes, keeping fit, reading, meditating and spending time with my loved ones, and the occasional night out. I feel that doing all of this helps to keep the mind healthy to ensure I’m always on top of my game whilst working. It’s super important to be able to switch off as well. I usually set myself a deadline that I am not allowed to look at my emails past 9pm

If I didn’t do these things to balance my life, I may achieve short-term success, however, I don’t believe it would last for the long term. Finding the right balance between working hard and enjoying yourself is key. After all, what good is life if we can’t enjoy it? It’s extremely important to prioritize your health and mental wellbeing.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder, and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Becoming a founder is definitely not for the faint-hearted, there is a huge amount of risk involved. For example, I gave up a well-paid career to start my company and went without a proper salary for months. You have to be able to deal with calculated risks. I always say “high-risk high rewards.” if you’re not prepared to take risks, then you may not be cut out for this journey. It can also be extremely isolating. You’re leaving the hustle and bustle of a busy office environment and are trying to make it on your own two feet. Finally, you have to be really self-disciplined because you’re working on your own schedule and there’s no one looking over your shoulder making sure you’re sticking to deadlines. If this sounds like something you’d be happy to deal with, then go for it!

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

Self-Confidence: I’d definitely say that the most important quality a female founder needs to have, is a belief in herself. Women are much more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome, but if you let that self-doubt take over, it can stop you from achieving your dreams. I’d never felt imposter syndrome quite as much as when I landed my first client. Sure, I was thrilled, but I also questioned if I was good enough. To tackle this, I reminded myself of how far I’d already come and of all of the accomplishments I’d achieved. That client is still with us today and is also one of our partners referring us to new business on a continuous basis.

Fearlessness: Starting a business is scary. For me, I left an extremely well-paid career in finance to start my business, and I was terrified. However, in these cases, it’s important to remember that the benefits will outweigh the risks.

The ability to ask for help: There will come a time where you may find yourself stuck and not knowing what to do. When this time comes, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have a wonderful support system in my mentors, my co-founder Ivan, and my peers. I can honestly say my business would not be where it is today, without their help and support.

Resilience: Like it or not, things are going to go wrong. A good female founder will know how to address this full-on and overcome any problems they face. Every mistake I’ve made in my business has become a lesson, and I don’t shy away from talking about them with my team. I love to have sit-downs with my co-founder Ivan, where we evaluate what we’ve done in the last month and how we can improve on this.

Vision: When I first launched Capitalixe I didn’t have a clear, growth strategy. Sure, I knew I wanted to grow, but I didn’t have any set targets or KPIs. Now, I have a clear vision of where I want the business to be in the next quarter, the next year, and the next 5 years. Setting goals helps you to focus and use your time more efficiently.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I love mentoring other young women who are looking for some help and guidance and currently have two mentees. I find it so important to encourage and empower other women who are wanting to start their own businesses. I am also a regular donor to charities that support children in need in developing countries, as well as animals.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d love to eventually launch a not-for-profit that provides free training, funding, and resources to young women who want to launch their own finance companies. It’s definitely time to close the gender gap in the industry!

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would absolutely love to have a private breakfast with Barbora Corcoran, I love her story of pure resilience and determination to succeed and prove the people who doubted her wrong. She started her business with her boyfriend at the time and caught him cheating with their secretary, thereafter they split and he told her she’d never succeed without him. Of course, she proved him wrong and became the queen of New York real estate, and paved the way for women in this field. I feel like she’s someone I can relate to and would learn so much from.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.



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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.