One of our ambitions at the MIC Brussels is to empower girls and women in entrepreneurship and IT. During the next weeks, through the series of portraits “Women, IT & Entrepreneurship”, we will bring in the spotlight inspiring key-actresses of these worlds. We are dedicated to have more women take the step and become successful IT entrepreneurs!
Leen Segers: Learning as a way to grow
Leen Segers’s path is made of learning and growing. After working in several positions between Belgium and London, she founded last year EEYOU (a VR platform) and LucidWeb (a VR and WebVR consulting and development agency). Pushed by the need to inspire other women in that industry, she also created Women in VR/AR Europe. By working her way up and by always willing more, she is an inspiration for anyone who wants to expand in new tech industries.
Starting in a Belgian success story
She starts her professional life at Netlog, a social network website – a Belgian success story. “There, I specialized in social marketing for brands and had the opportunity to work closely with the co-founders.” She was there from the very beginning. “I saw the whole evolution. By taking different roles in the company, I could learn a lot of new skills.”
In 2011, the next step was London. While she still works for Netlog, Leen Segers notices the growing interest in on-demand online videos around her. “London is ahead of Brussels regarding technological habits; online video streaming was already a standard there”. Soon after, she quits Netlog and joins Kaltura, a software company that provides an open source online video platform. “I learned a lot there, especially in tech. By being head of sales, I had to sell our products to CTO’s and thus I had to be on top of everything.” Pushed by the need to stay confident in her role, she develops her technical knowledge.
After four years in London, Leen Segers moves back to Belgium. “London is a heavy city. It was time for me to go back home and, I felt that I was confident enough in my skills to go further here.”
The Virtual Reality Experience
It is in 2015 that she discovers for the first time the virtual reality experience. “I was amazed by the power of that technology. I didn’t see it as a thread to the existing media, but more as a parallel track to other media, another way to consume medias.” After exploring high-quality ways to consume media, the VR is the logical next step in her path. “I was intrigued and took it as a new opportunity. I didn’t know why yet, but I knew I wanted to be part of this.”
After this thunderbolt, it is clear to her that she needs, one more time, to learn every aspect of that technology. From there, she attends conferences, reads everything she can. Soon enough, she founds EEYOU, a European platform for virtual reality. “I had noticed that on most VR media platforms, the content came from the US. I wanted to change that and make it a EU content platform.” While studying the options in distribution of VR content, she is introduced to the world of WebVR. She meets Thomas Balouet and together they decide to create a new company focused on this new tech, LucidWeb. “I am glad I could meet a technical co-founder. Being a team, combining your efforts, is much more powerful than being on your own.”
The importance of learning
One lesson she learned about herself during her professional carrier is how important it is to keep learning. “A more technical part of the job makes me want to stay there. Since I wanted to learn about VR and there was no important VR company in Belgium, I had to be an entrepreneur myself.”
Through her experience, she noticed that women needed more role models in her domain. While there are initiatives in the UK, there was none in Europe. This is where she decided to found Women in VR/AR Europe, an organization aiming to gather women who work in that industry. “I wanted to meet other women like me; I wanted to know their own process in a male-driven industry. This type of environment can sometimes make them feel uncomfortable. It can be discouraging.”
New opportunities ahead
Today, she feels more confident than ever. “I feel encouraged to go through the next phases in the startup lifecycle. The areas that are unknown are now considered as opportunities. I don’t feel nervous at all.” More than that, she knows there is nothing she cannot learn and that developing herself is the more interesting part of the job.