Andrea SommerBy Lauren French
Name: Andrea Sommer EMBALJ2015, Founder, Hiver.
1. You founded Hiver, which is currently part of the LBS Incubator Scheme*. Can you tell us a little bit more about Hiver?
Hiver is a smartphone app that enables you to make the most of the time you spend networking. It uses advanced geolocation technology together with powerful analytics to identify and automatically remember each interaction you have (which is great if you're prone to forgetting names) so that you can connect with people and follow up effectively.
Real-time analytics are offered to event organisers who can use the anonymised insight about attendees to effectively manage and market their event so that both sponsors and attendees have a great event experience.
2. What does your typical work day look like?
Every day is completely different! One of the things I really like about entrepreneurship is that every day is so different. Unlike corporate life, building a business means you have to wear many hats throughout the day (and evening) – it never ends. From meeting with investors, event companies and prospective clients, to spending time providing feedback to our developer team, to website development, there is never a dull moment.
Because our team is dispersed across the worlds – we have developers in the US, Spain and Brazil – we frequently do calls well into the evening. And weekends are also fair game – they are a great time to catch up on what couldn’t be done during the week!
It is pretty intense but it is really rewarding.
3. Where is your favourite place in London and why?
It is really hard to pick just one but I love the West End. Going to the theatre is one of my favourite things to do and London is such a hub for amazing theatre. Walking through the West End feels like being at the centre of the world, where the past and present converge, where people from all parts of the world come together to absorb culture, to meet with friends or to have a nice meal. But there is just so much to see and do in London it is really hard to pick one – museums, galleries or just walking by the Thames. London is an amazing place for culture – that is what I love about it.
4. What is top of your bucket list?
Going to space. I don’t think we’re too far from being able to take tourists into space and I really look forward to taking part of this incredible journey!
5. What has been the hardest part of building Hiver so far?
Every day brings a new set of challenges and opportunities. One of the things that was really stressful for all of us – myself and my two co-founders – was the rebrand we just completed going from Colmeia to Hiver. A brand is really the personality of the business so getting it right required a lot of emotional investment from the team. We really wanted to land on something that reflected our vision for what the technology is all about so getting there was a really lengthy process including market research, lots of brainstorming and even a naming workshop with a top marketing agency. We are really happy with the new name and brand but it was one of the most difficult experiences so far.
6. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Elon Musk. I am an absolute fan and I completely support his view of the world, his approach to solving problems and his inherent belief that technology can fundamentally change our world.
7. What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Everyone says this but learning from failure really is key. It isn’t a lesson that everyone can understand quickly or naturally but in my view it is the only way to succeed. A life without failure is a life without risks – and that is a waste.
8. What is your aspiration for Hiver?
I believe Hiver has the potential to truly disrupt the event space by solving a problem that so many of us experience – the forgetting of names. Hiver combines really clever technology and applies it to something totally new and unique, unleashing the power of the mobile devices in our pockets, enabling our users to get the most out of the time they invest in networking.
9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
One of my mentors once gave me this Milton Berle quote ‘if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’ and I have lived my life with this approach ever since. To me, it exemplifies the idea that we are responsible for own lives, our own successes and failures. It is easy to take a deterministic approach; the hard part is making choices, taking risks, learning and trying again.
10. Tell us something surprising about you
I’m a complete geek! I love science fiction of all kinds – Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, The Expanse – you name it!
*Andrea is currently part of the Incubator Programme. The Incubator Programme is a comprehensive support package which allows occupants to continue to use the School’s facilities including dedicated office space, and to access a full range of support offered by a number of professional service providers.
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