12th July 2023
Product Lead at Propelle and Founder of Lea Gogo
I tried to pay for something and it got rejected. I called the bank and they were like, Well, you’re out of funds.
Hi, I’m Ari and I’m the Product Lead at Propelle. So I was born in a French family and we were three children. I’m the oldest one, and my first memory of money is just after my sixth birthday when we moved to Germany from my home country, and I didn’t really understand why. So I was asking my parents, why are we moving to a country where I have no friends and I don’t speak the language?
And they didn’t say it’s exactly like this, but what I understood is, it’s basically because of money. So my dad had to change jobs and I understood it as in we need to we need to move to Germany because of money. So I became very aware of that. And I have a lot of memories throughout my childhood where I’d be very careful with money, like counting, looking on the menu, if things are the cheapest option, if there’s something a better deal we can get.
And I’d always try to do the cheapest we can, and I would tell my sisters to always order the cheapest thing as well, because I thought I had to make sure for my parents that we were going to be okay and we would have enough money. But overall, we had a really amazing childhood and we never lacked anything like everything we needed.
There was just this one event where my dad had an accident and the medical bills were piling up and he couldn’t work for a long time. And I remember my mom saying, We can’t go on holiday this year because it’s difficult financially at the moment – that was her words. And I took it as my mission again to make sure me and my sisters were going to help.
So I was worried we’d have to move to another country if we didn’t have enough money. So we’d be counting up everything, and when we went to the supermarket, we’d look at what Mom was buying and say like, are you sure you want this? Like, this is cheaper. And it’s really funny because we were kids, like we were ten, but we understood that money was like a really big thing and that if it wasn’t, there would be in a bad situation.
So I think the awareness of money being a thing has been there since really early on. When I was 14, I went to New Zealand for six months. I did something like an Erasmus for not kids, but before you graduate. So I was 14 and that was in 2010. So like the payments industry and the banks were very different.
to today and when I arrived there, I couldn’t just use my parents card or bring money in my suitcase, like that wasn’t an option. So I had to go to the bank, get a bank account, and then get my parents to deposit a monthly allowance so I could pay for things at school, get a uniform or go to the movies, just things you’d be doing there.
And so because I had been counting for years already, I kind of knew what to do, so I think I did a good job. I did know when the money was coming in on a monthly basis and I made sure not to use more than what was on the bank account between those two dates. There was a little hiccup where one month I tried to pay for something and it got rejected.
I called the bank and they’re like, well, you’re out of funds. So I had to call my parents and be like, Mum, Dad, we’re ten days before the next payday, but I’ve spent it all. So they were really nice, I’m really lucky that they helped me, but I realized if that was what I called real life, I wouldn’t have anything.
Like, no one’s going to come and help me. And I think that experience really prepared me for student years because that’s the first time you have your own money. And a lot of people do things with it and they don’t plan. But I knew like it has to last from one month to the other to the next, and that made me very aware of it.
So I did good as a student. I did very well. I calculated every penny like I knew exactly how much I could spend every week on this, on that, on going out on food, on petrol. And I didn’t go beyond that. So I had no issues, but I started wanting more. And so I had time, I was a student.
I got a bit creative. I started giving some tutoring classes to get some money and I was scaling it by adding more students to the same class, but making them pay the full price so I could make a bit more. It was the beginning of e-commerce and a lot of items started to be very trending and then I found those items.
I’d go to the stores where they were not out of stock yet, but they were already on the website and I bought a lot of them and then I put them on Facebook Marketplace or Vinted and sold them for more because they ran out. So people were willing to pay more for them. And a lot of those little things too, to make money on the side.
I knew I wasn’t going to I didn’t want to trade my time for money as a student and I wanted to find other ways to generate income. And so I also started writing business plans for opening a restaurant and a make up line, which never happened because when I got to this section of costs, it was way beyond anything I could afford.
But I think the mindset of wanting to create something, the entrepreneurial mindset kind of starts there. It’s the idea of I’ve got to find a way to generate income in a more creative way because I’m not made to sit at a corporate desk all day. So my first job after uni, I came to London because that’s where startup life was and I really wanted to be part of creating something.
It turned out to be a really amazing opportunity because five years later the company went public on the London Stock Exchange and that was just really incredible to see the entire journey from the beginning to being a public company. But the other thing that happened at the same time is that all of a sudden, all those options that employees had in the company became equity.
And so we had options and we had shares in a real company. And a lot of people took that money out and did things like holidays or buying a house or a car. But I thought, I think this is going to go further. And I put a bet. I thought this is going to grow. So I put even more money in.
So I bought my own shares into the company and that’s the first time I realized I think I may be investing, which looking back, I find it really funny because I had already been investing for much longer. If you think about it, by dedicating my time to startups, by building a side business, by having ISAs and I already had invested in two other startups, but really small amount.
So I thought that doesn’t count. But looking back, this really is my investing journey. I’ve just started in the less traditional way. So I didn’t go and trade Apple shares like a lot of my friends were doing. So I considered them investors, but not myself. And I think this lack of representation of what investing can be, it can come in a lot of different forms and shapes, is what was missing for me to consider myself one.
So it took that investment in that company for me to realize. I think I’m investing. I don’t think I asked a specific person. I think I was just listening around like different voices. It’s hard to trust a single one. I always find if one person says something, I’m not sure if it’s just their opinion. So I started listening to a lot of different people on the internet from friends, but I.
I do think I was missing information at the time. It did feel like the information was very much focused on the more traditional way of investing. And I missed that whole bit about startups and side hustles and alternative ways to make money beyond the stock market. So I did find there was not much to learn from.
I think if I had known that I was investing, I would probably have invested more. I just didn’t realize I was doing it. I didn’t realize I was in a position that I could do it. So I think being conscious and aware, I would probably have taken it a bit further and started earlier because it is a lot of fun.
Beyond the aspect of making money, it’s really fun to just be part of creating something, of generating more value in something. So for me it’s startups and businesses and I’ve really liked that and I would have started earlier if I had known.