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

Valerie De Clerck, who studied at Vlerick Business School, created CURAFYT

Valerie De Clerck, Vlerick Business School, CURAFYT

Hometown: Deinze, Belgium

Business Degree: Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Why did you choose to study your course at Vlerick Business School?:

Animals have always been my passion. That’s why I decided to become a veterinarian. After a year in practice as a veterinary physician, the entrepreneurial urge itched and I decided to choose a different career path. 

I worked for two years as a researcher in two digital healthcare start-ups abroad and then for a large corporate in pet food. Soon I realized that I needed an additional business education to accelerate in the corporate world.

When I was looking for the ideal business school, I already knew that one day I would like to be an entrepreneur. Vlerick is known for its innovation and entrepreneurship. Vlerick also has a very large network of entrepreneurs in Flanders, Belgium, and I knew that there was a fair chance that I would one day start my company in my home country.

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

CURAFYT develops natural food supplements for dogs and horses. We have a hybrid distribution model with direct-to-consumer sales through our own webshop and indirect sales via veterinarians. 

We develop our own formulas and produce our products in Belgium. This way we guarantee the quality of our products. All the ingredients we use are backed by scientific studies. We also believe it’s important that professional advice is linked to the sale of our products. So, you can get advice from a veterinarian through our webshop, as well as through the veterinarians we work with.

Was it always your goal to found a company?:

It was always a dream and, after my MBA at Vlerick, it became my goal.

What advice would you have for other entrepreneurial women that want to found a company?:

Go for it! The book of Sheryl Sandberg “Lean in” was a huge source of inspiration for me.

When I started my business, I was also at the age where I wanted to start a family. It was my biggest fear that I would not be able to combine both. Now, I have a daughter of eight months and I am expecting my second child, are we are now shifting up a gear in our growth at CURAFYT. 

I don’t feel like I have to choose between my family or my business. I think you can combine both as long as you make good arrangements with your partner. 

I don’t remember exactly in what words Sheryl Sandberg said it, but the message has always stuck with me: do not let opportunities pass you by because you have a desire to have children.

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

You have much more baggage to take a proactive approach to things. Entrepreneurship is always about trial and error, but I’m still convinced that I was able to avoid some major pitfalls thanks to my MBA and all the business cases we analyzed.

On the other hand, the Vlerick network is also very useful, and I can always go there with questions. Also, in terms of personal development, I learned a lot from the coaching sessions and the many group works with my international fellows.

What are your hopes for the future of women in business?:

That more women dare to take the leap to entrepreneurship and that we can support each other in this journey.

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