Finalist for under 25 entrepreneur SPARKies award 2018, Finalist for best startup in the South West 2018, investment from Just Eat, Angels Den and 130 investors on Crowdcube. I’d say that is all the introduction this interview needs. Me and Jess caught up over a gin at Picco’s a few weeks back and, well she’s just a true inspiration for all of us, I went home buzzing after we met, that and the quarter finals were on! Her drive, honesty, humour and passion to support women in this industry is so endearing and I’m really excited to see what her and the team at LUX Rewards achieve over the next few years.
If you’re aiming for the top, then read on……
What is LUX rewards, how did it come about?
LUX Rewards works like Air Miles but for the restaurant world. We partner users with high quality restaurants and bars and allow them to collect points from their spend. Although most point-based companies offer 0.5% to 1.5% back (like Tescos Club card, Nectar points or Boots cards), we like to give our users maximum value: Up to 7.5% back!
These points can be collected and redeemed for rewards such as spa days, wine tastings, hotel getaways and free meals!
It all came about when my co-founder was working for IBM and getting points back from a wide range of expense budgets: Air miles for flights, Mariott points for hotels, AMEX for general spend… but nothing for his restaurant spend despite having most of his expense budget accorded to meals!
On the flip side, high quality restaurant and bars are lacking a tool to incentivise corporate customers into their restaurants: Discounts don’t work because discounts are orientated towards price savvy customers such as students!
Et Voilà LUX!
Did you always know you wanted to own your own company?
Absolutely! I belong to a family of entrepreneurs and creatives so always had the ambition to have my own company. I love to take risks, network, get creative and problem solve so entrepreneurship is a natural fit for my personality.
My degree did orientate me towards larger companies so I ended up working in some businesses such as AXA and TBWA. Although these companies gave me some fantastic experience, I hated feeling like a clog in a machine and the slow pace that big businesses move frustrated me.
What does your day to day look like?
Every day is different! One day I’ll be in the LUX HQ based in the Just Eat offices in Bristol, the next I’ll be wondering around Bristol & Bath speaking to restaurants… another I’ll be in London pitching to investors. One thing that stays the same everyday: Copious cups of tea that are left half empty.
You mentioned to that you very rarely meet any female tech founders, any tips for women who want to start their own business?
Don’t see yourself as a “women entrepreneur” – you are just “an entrepreneur”! The worst thing you could do is set yourself back before you have even started just because of your gender.
Yes I have very rarely found female tech founders, we are definitely a minority! However, it’s not something that can change overnight so best not get angry about it. My advice would be to use it to your advantage. There are many support groups, recognitions (such as this), awards, funding… all exclusively for women in tech business. Use them and work hard!
You are a mentor for women in business, what does this entail?
There are two main things when you mentor people: On a personal level you are there to talk to them and make sure their moral is kept up! Secondly, it is helping them in areas of business they are not familiar with. So many people have great ideas but have no idea where to start when it comes to setting up a company.
I would love to see more women mentoring other women, and you have recently mentored two young ladies in business. Why did you want to do it?
I read an article back in February by Fortune saying that the #MeToo movement was alienating male mentors: Male managers are now three times as likely to say they are uncomfortable mentoring women and twice as uncomfortable working alone with a woman. This creates a big problem: Most senior positions are occupied by men, and having a mentor increases your chance of moving up in your career.
I really want to change this and give young professionals or entrepreneurs the confidence and advice they need. That way more females will be in senior positions to mentor others in the future! Goodbye gender pay gap!
I’m sure you have been in a room full of men and been the only woman, how does that make you feel?
When I was first starting out in business it made me very angry. Not because I was the only woman, but because of the atmosphere it created. I would walk into groups of guys talking about business but as soon as I joined the conversation they would switch to very condescending subjects such as the weather. The networking event would change into a “gentleman’s club” and my co-founder (who is a man) would secure several followup meetings when I would secure none.
Also being asked to get someone a drink… what’s that about??
I used to simply walk out of those events (I can be fiery and didn’t want to make any enemies) but now I have taught myself how to deal with events like this.
I often suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’. Do you?
Absolutely – especially when I was starting out! In my head, any achievement was down to luck.
This is something I have been really working on though. I feel that people can be scared of being over-confident because they don’t want to come across as cocky. But in my experience, when you are confident, people gravitate towards you. Confidence is always key!
What challenges have you had to overcome?
Naturally curious, I like to be good at EVERYTHING and understand EVERYTHING. Problem with this: you become a jack of all trades, master of none . My biggest challenge has been to accept that there are just some things I will never be great at, and that it is better to delegate tasks to people than try and figure everything out myself.
What does success look like to you?
Being able to buy my groceries from M&S without worrying about my bank balance.
What do you think the traits of a kickass leader are?
Personable, positive, convincing and good at reading people!
What is your favourite quote?
“Three words: Treat Yo Self” Parks and recreation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsABTmT1_M0
Squad goals! If you could pick any 3 people in the world who would that be and why?
My mum: She’s a constant source of inspiration for me.
James my co-founder: It can be so hard for people to work in such intense environments, remain friends and continue to be on the same brain length. I couldn’t ask for a better co-founder and squad member!
Elon Musk: Because hey… he could surely pull some strings??
To download LUX Rewards or find out more about Jess’s business, follow the link here to the LUX website!
Jess, thank you so much