When Camilla walks into a room full of potential investors they tend to be middle aged men in suits. Blond, chatty and very young Camilla Hessellund Lastein could be their daughter. These men lean back in their chairs legs crossed and have pretty clear body language “show me what you’ve got because I don’t believe you’ve got anything”.
Camilla is a successful entrepreneur who has established a startup called Lix providing affordable digital text books for students. Because of who she is Camilla needs to be twice as prepared, always at the top of her game to win the respect of those guys in the suits. Rather than being outraged by this she says the lesson has “been very rewarding for me personally”. Anyway, she jokes, due to all the stress she’s now developing wrinkles, so that should deal with the issue of her young years.
The story of Lix began whilst Camilla was a student studying economics at Aarhus University. Cycling up and down steep hills to the campus she found her shoulders crushed by her expensive and mandatory class texts. Believing there had to be a better solution for students and not finding it Camilla decided to tackle the challenge herself.
Camilla could arguably described as a product of Aarhus’s fledging start up community. When she began the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Aarhus was in its early days but a series networking event such as We Love Start Ups led her to pioneers such as Lasse Chor who she describes as a “super, super cool guy”. Camilla ultimately ended up entering and winning a competition and this gave her the momentum she needed. Valuable media exposure attracted the attention of her first investor, a Dane based in San Francisco.
Camilla says “I feel very privileged to have been raised in a Scandinavian country because the equality is so much closer than when you look at the states..(here) you’re respected equally which makes things easier”. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a challenging road spending years living on her friends’ sofas and watching her 20s be shaped by work not play.
Camilla argues that to be an entrepreneur it’s not quite as simple as just doing it, she explains “you need to overcome the social humiliation you build up in your mind …you need to take all that and say ‘screw it I’m going to do it any way’ “. That’s what she’ll be doing as she rolls Lix out of Denmark and across Europe, it’s exciting times for her and her team she says “we’ll be working our asses I think”.