Belinda Esterhammer is a tech enthusiast with international experience. She is the founder and director at Springboard Group. Springboard Group is a full-service integrated marketing and consulting agency bridging traditional and millennial thinking to drive new and innovative approaches. They help clients to find the right combination of strategy and tactics including branding, digital, media relations, creative, content and social outreach – from startup to corporate, through the critical milestones or events.
Prior to Springboard, Belinda led high-profile marketing campaigns for EY’s female entrepreneur program. She has worked in marketing and communications across many sectors including time at UNICEF in the Philippines, an Austrian consultancy focused on governmental institutions, a German B2B and B2G IT company and the biggest online job platform in Spain. She holds a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Entrepreneurship & Tourism and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Management and Economics.
She is a passionate advocate for female mentoring and founded NextGen Network (NN), a non-profit mentoring network for high school and university students in Hong Kong. NN’s mission is to connect students with mentors and to raise awareness of the importance of empowering and mentoring. NN offers a platform to engage, learn, connect and share experience and encourage students to dream big and be bold.
A tech enthusiast with international experience she empowers people to become innovators and entrepreneurs by facilitating startup bootcamps.
Belinda sits on the mentorship steering committee of the Asian University for Women Support Foundation, TEDxTinHauWomen, ICON and is a Co-host for #impact Podcast.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, she says
“Surround yourself with “hell yeah” people instead of “…but why” people. Starting a business is hard and everyone has an opinion – even if they have no clue. Muting voices that will question your every step is hard in the beginning but essential – else you will start doubting yourself and overthink things. You need those cheerleaders in your life, the ones that you can lean on for advice, rants and also to celebrate small wins.”
Read more about Belinda Esterhammer, her views on the startup ecosystem, and her views on success.
What background and domain expertise do you have? What makes you turn into your current job and role? Additionally, if available, How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now?
Belinda Esterhammer: I ended up in my current profession by “happenstance”. I studied business law for 2 months and realized that knowing books inside out and having to recite legal passages word by word is not my cup of tea. So, I looked online to figure out what to do and decided on a gap year to figure things out, found a job description I liked and 2 weeks later I started an internship in Barcelona in marketing and business development and loved it.
Later I went back to Uni and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Economics and a Master’s in Entrepreneurship & Tourism. While completing these degrees I always held part-time and full-time positions in marketing and eventually also consulting related fields. Through an exchange in an MBA program in the Philippines I ended up working in media and research for UNICEF and after a short stint in Australia I ended up in Hong Kong where I co-ordinated a female executive leadership program for Ernst & Young and later worked in their global digital department. It was there when working with big agencies when I discovered the pricing they charged and the – more often than not – copy & paste work they delivered without any hint of creativity. That’s when I decided to go for it and started my own company Springboard Group 2.5 years ago.
Please describe what your typical workday looks like so that readers can understand more about you and your roles.
Belinda Esterhammer: There’s barely a typical workday, I answered these questions on a flight to Singapore and am now sending them off from Dublin where I am to host a conference. I embrace the unknown that comes with my work.
What are the key skills and attributes needed to be among the top influencers in your industry?
Belinda Esterhammer: Grit, hustle, knowledge, authenticity, curiosity and that crazy spark that keeps you going.
What career mistake has given you the biggest lesson? What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken?
Belinda Esterhammer: My biggest career mistake was that I was too afraid to negotiate a salary in a previous job and not standing up for myself. I learned that I need to not only know my worth but also to ask for what I deserve. Biggest risk I’ve taken was leaving the corporate world to start my own company. I never looked back.
What was your first “win” that made you confident that you were doing the right thing?
Belinda Esterhammer: When two of my former employers became my clients and when strangers reach out to me for advice and also just to tell me that I am an inspiration for them.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Belinda Esterhammer: Surround yourself with “hell yeah” people instead of “…but why” people. Starting a business is hard and everyone has an opinion – even if they have no clue. Muting voices that will question your every step is hard in the beginning but essential – else you will start doubting yourself and overthink things. You need those cheerleaders in your life, the ones that you can lean on for advice, rants and also to celebrate small wins.
What’s your general thought about the term “Global” and What are the important factors (criteria) for local startups to consider for an international expansion based on your experiences or expertise?
Belinda Esterhammer: In this day and age, it’s easy to be “global” – whether it’s in a physical or digital way. For startups to expand internationally there’s a lot to consider:
Cultural fit – every culture is different and it’s crucial to understand the culture; without doing the necessary market research and getting that local knowledge the company will face many challenges.
Product Market Fit – Is your startup solving an issue that this market actually has?
Marketing, mission, and vision – what is the buying behavior of the target market and what’s the strategy to enter this market?
Recruit “local ambassadors” – depending on the product or service one can also consider to set up an office in that specific country.
What kind of startup (or tech) industry will impact the world in the near future like 2-3 years locally (in your country) and globally in your own personal view?
Belinda Esterhammer: Startups that add value to making this world a better and liveable place; whether that means a sustainable startup trying to reduce carbon emission or a money lending platform in India offering micro-loans to females.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Belinda Esterhammer: I’d spend more time learning and getting stuff done instead of thinking “I can’t do this” or “I am not ready yet”.
As you know, our company group name is “beSUCCESS”, what’s your definition of the term “success” as an individual human being?
Belinda Esterhammer: Success to me means working on something with a purpose – something I am passionate about.
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