Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.
Meet Zoe Mitz, Co-Founder & CEO at LifeLuxe
FCF: Tell us about yourself.
Zoe: I completed my undergraduate degree at Queen's University majoring in health studies and went on to do a Masters of business at Queen's for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Throughout my undergraduate career I aspired to become a doctor and sought out an internship in Kingston working with a fantastic plastic surgeon. I was intrigued by cosmetic surgery because it seemed to combine my interest in medicine with my love of art and portraiture.
I became conflicted about my interests when I went on exchange to England and participated in a global health program, working with the United Nations and World Health Organization in Geneva to research disability and accessibility around the globe. This experience opened me up to the concept of health and wellness at a macro level.
I knew I wanted to pursue a creative profession but felt that medical school wouldn't allow me to be as free and self-directed as I wanted. So, I chose entrepreneurship - and haven't looked back since. I love being my own boss and getting to forge my own path.
FCF: What is LifeLuxe?
Zoe: Lifeluxe is a web platform that helps retirement home recreation coordinators create engaging programs, by improving the efficiency and experience of recreation planning and event management. That platform consists of 3 main tools; a calendar planning tool, an activity library full of evidence-based programs for seniors, and an event marketplace connecting external entertainers, such as musicians, into the homes.
FCF: How did you come up with LifeLuxe?
Zoe: The summer before entering my masters program, my 98-year-old grandmother moved into a retirement community for the social experience and to meet new people, however she was quite lonely there, spent most of her time in her room, and ended up moving back home at the end of the summer. Watching her go through this difficult time opened my eyes to the widespread need of innovation in the space of senior care and social well-being. Having lived a life full of accomplishments, travels, and experiences, it is incredibly difficult for people to cope with losing the ability to do all of the things they once loved. I see great value in transforming the later years in life to a time of celebration, rather than a feared inevitability.
FCF: What were the first 3 steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue this idea?
Step one was talking to my peers, family members, and professors about my idea and getting input on how it could be further developed. I wanted to hear about personal experiences and build on the idea to enhance its feasibility.
The second step I took was cold calling retirement homes to book meetings. I then travelled to over 35 homes to interview the recreation coordinators and seniors to better understand daily life and challenges - I even moved into a retirement home for a weekend.
The third step was validation from pitch competitions - could I sell the idea to complete strangers? I received valuable feedback from people in the entrepreneurial industry and investors, which motivated me to pivot several times before landing on the business that I have today.
FCF: How did you meet your Co-Founder? What do you look for in a Co-Founder?
Zoe: I met my cofounder Jesse in my masters program. On the first day of classes, our professors invited us to pitch an idea in front of the class if we had one, so I did. Being one of the youngest students in my masters class, I wasn't sure that people would take me seriously, however I was very wrong about that. It turned out that many people were interested in the industry of senior care and applauded my idea.
I've always been very independent, thinking I would be fine working on my own but Jesse was very persistent about partnering with me. His skillset compliments mine, as I'm the saleswoman, taking care of marketing, branding, partnerships and business strategy, while he focuses more on minute detail involving strategy, finance, and operations.
It's really important to choose a co-founder that you can not only work with professionally but also who you can rely on as a friend. Jesse and I have been through many ups and downs in the start-up life and it's crucial to support each other through failure and success. Being an entrepreneur can be quite lonely but having a cofounder cushions this feeling.
FCF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
Zoe: To my fellow female creatives who have start-up ideas or want to create a side project, I say do it! You can't succeed at something if you don't take the leap, so taking that first step to talk about your ideas and start conducting market research will either validate your idea or allow you to pivot to something more impactful.
I would also say that in this field of work, many people won't understand what you're doing and will even say things like "when are you going to get a real job?" or "have you started looking for jobs yet?" My journey has taught me a lot about confidence and the importance of being passionate about the industry that you're working in. When I explain the problem I'm solving and the impact that it has, people are very receptive.
FCF: How can the Female CoFounder community help you?
Zoe: Jesse and I have run into quite a bit of trouble finding a technical cofounder that is able to commit to us. We would really love to find someone to help us with our full stack web development and join our growing team. We are looking for someone who will be as passionate about creating a better social life for seniors as we are.
FCF: How can people get in touch with you?
Zoe: If you're interested in learning more about LifeLuxe or have any connections to retirement homes or full stack web developers that might be interested in working with us please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I'm really looking forward to hearing from my fellow female co-founders.