Claudia Neumeister: “Luxdates is my regret-minimisation. I felt I would be more sorry for not having tried than giving up work, because that was replaceable”
Photo: Claudia Neumeister
Starting over: going back to university and starting a business was my regret-minimisation
Going part-time to study at university helped Claudia Neumeister find her real calling and turn it into a business.
Jess Baudry: Hello Claudia. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Claudia Neumeister: I lived for a long time in eastern Europe then I came to Luxembourg six years ago with Amazon. For the most part I was working in Budapest, I lived in Prague, Warsaw, Bucharest, Sofia and Moscow.
What was your career path?
I’m a headhunter by profession. I did this for 20 years. I came to Luxembourg to work for Amazon to set up new divisions for them. About two years ago, I discovered something was missing. There was a feeling inside of me that I hadn’t reached my full potential. It wasn’t personally rewarding. I looked back and thought 'what have I achieved?' I felt I hadn’t really made an impact.
So, what did you do?
I decided to follow the dream I’ve long held to go back to university and study psychology. I picked organisational psychology, which looks at the human in the work place and how they relate to work places and organisations. I started in fall of 2015. I just finished the course work and now I’m writing the thesis about women who make a career change later in life and the psychological elements that hold them back.
Where did the idea for Luxdates, the introduction and matchmaking agency, come from?
I noticed it many years ago when I was a matchmaker for my friends. The people who I brought together are still happily married and have families. I thought: I have a knack for this! I did some market research and found there was nothing comparable--there were websites where people posted photos but it was superficial. There was no real dating scene. Everybody seemed to be looking but nobody seemed to be taking care of people who were looking. I decided to create a service that’s highly personalised. I realised that people in Luxembourg, because it’s so small, are very worried about their personal details going online and their personal lives being hung out to dry. I decided to do something different and create the service I would have enjoyed when I was single. I have online dating experience, I’ve been through the whole thing. I know how people feel when they are single and know how hard and harsh the online dating market can be.
What, if any, were the obstacles in going back to university and starting a business?
There weren’t any obstacles, really, once I had made the conscious decision and decided to do what I felt I should do and was academically equipped for.
I think fear is one of the biggest obstacles in making life decisions. I looked at this project, Luxdates, through the same lens as Jeff Bezos when he founded Amazon. He had a high paying job as a hedge fund manager in New York. He had this idea and thought how he would feel at the age of 80 for not having tried. He coined the phrase “regret minimisation”. Luxdates is my regret-minimisation. I felt I would be more sorry for not having tried than giving up work, because that was replaceable. I would always find another job.
What helped you?
I’ve received so much support it’s been the wind beneath my wings. Everyone says Luxembourg needs this. I’ve received a lot of support from my husband, which is crucial. I was lucky I was able to work for Amazon on a part-time basis while doing my degree and starting this company. Having this revenue stream from part-time work it gave me a lot of security.
You set up Luxdates in April 2017. How has it evolved since then?
When I started the business in April, I had no idea how many people would contact me. I was really surprised by the number of people who contacted me and who I’ve had the privilege to meet, personally. I now have the critical numbers necessary to match people. I’ve already made two successful matches. No wedding bells yet, but I think I wouldn’t be invited to the wedding and that’s perfectly fine.
What have you achieved since you last asked yourself this question?
I think I have achieved something. I’m proud. I think I’ve had the courage to become the person I have always been. To be more forthcoming about it and not listening to the white noise. There are always people who criticise and there are always mistakes and failures. I’m more at peace and I feel very comfortable in my own skin. Of course I think I should have done it years ago. Why didn’t I? I wasn’t ready for it.
Do you know someone who has started over in Luxembourg and wants to share their story? Then tell them to get in touch by emailing [email protected]