Celebrating International Women’s Day: Meet The B-School Female Founders

Aurélie Hélouis, McGill University, Desautels Faculty of Management, infinityQ

Hometown: Chateau-Renault, a small town in la Touraine (South of Paris) in France

Business Degree: MBA strategy from McGill University, Desautels Faculty of Management

Why did you choose to study your course at McGill?: 

After 16 years as an officer in the French Navy / Naval Aviation, I wanted to start my civilian life in Canada. McGill is one of the best universities in North America, and Montreal is a vibrant and extraordinary city, the perfect mix between the American and European cultures.

Tell us more about your company/organization and what you do:  

I am the co-founder and CEO of infinityQ, a company that develops a new type of computer called “quantum analog” and software solutions to tackle complex problems, impossible for classical computers. Right now, we are focusing on solutions for the gaming industry.

It is really exciting. We are creating a new technology, with a different approach. We just bought a PCB printer to print our electronic board! And we are building partnerships with big gaming companies.

Was it always your goal to found a company?:  

I caught the bug when I was at McGill. Before I was a Navy officer, I didn’t know what being an entrepreneur was. I knew I loved people, technology, and challenges. And I had good training to deal with stress, complex situations. I learned leadership, resilience, and perseverance, especially during operations onboard the aircraft carrier.

One evening at McGill I attended the “CEO insights” class with Prof. Karl Moore. His guest was Helge Seetzen, the CEO of a Montreal incubator, TandemLaunch. I was fascinated by his speech about entrepreneurship; it resonated with me.

At the end of his presentation, he told us, “Do you want to launch your company with a deep-tech idea, a PhD as a cofounder, and half a million dollars, send me an email?” I sent an email, quit my full-time job at the time, and became an entrepreneur.

What advice would you have for other entrepreneurial women that want to start a business?:  

Just follow your dreams and try. Search for ideas where there is chaos. Chaos means opportunities for entrepreneurs. Be aware that it is not easy, definitely not as glamourous as people may think, and requires a lot of sacrifices, especially if you are a mother. It is important to stay humble and critical and always step back (but it is difficult when you are in the heat of the action). You will have many opinions on what to do / not to do, surround yourself with the right people.

You will make mistakes. Just admit it, learn from them and move on fast. Life in a start-up is a roller-coaster but that is what entrepreneurs enjoy.

How did your experience at business school help you with your venture?:  

I took all the entrepreneurship classes I could. So, I learned from my professors who were experienced entrepreneurs. It is not easy to apply the theory all the time but my experience at TandemLaunch while I was doing my MBA taught me a lot.

What are your hopes for the future of women entrepreneurs?: 

I have high hopes! I believe people should strive by being themselves and doing what they like and are the best at. For me, it’s not a matter of gender. We are as capable as men. It’s just our society that has a tendency to put people in boxes.

But it’s improving. We can notice more and more female VCs and initiatives to support women.

Let’s do it, ladies!

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