A self-made Femigrant from Germany who sold her business to Bill Gates in a multimillion dollar deal.
An incredible story of immigrant single mother who was $135000 in DEBT and forced to leave her home ... BUT only 18 months later she sold her image licensing company to Bill Gates in a MULTIMILLION dollar deal.
Beate Chelette had escaped Germany’s ultra-structured life in 1989 and came to US to pursue her dreams and find the truest and highest expression of herself. Today, she runs The Women’s Code, a training program for businesses to promote diversity and grow women into leadership positions. By now, she also has an incredible entrepreneurial highlight of her career of selling a business to Bill Gates for several millions. It all started when upon arriving to US Beate found herself immediately infatuated by opportunistic, entrepreneurial spirit of America. Determined and inspired, she decided to pour her passion and talent as the youngest photo editor of Elle Germany into building her own company in US.
Very quickly, a gig that started as a photographer representation, turned into production company, then the stock photography syndication product. And finally after her trials and tribulations during what she calls ‘her decade of bad luck’ she managed to exit with a successful sale of her business.
But the road to success, as with any femigrant, hasn’t been easy.
In Beate’s photography business, she faced several major obstacles all at once. First, she struggled with the growing pains of a startup and people-related organizational challenges that she was not at all prepared for. It even involved a lawsuit. For young Beate who was just dipping her toes into the world of business, dealing with a lawsuit was both a big distraction and a huge blow emotionally. While that was going on, 9/11 happened, decimating the remainder of her business. But she persevered and kept marching on. Beate decided to tap into the small business community for help and worked hard to collaborate with SBA, putting together a business plan, projections, and anything else she could provide to demonstrate her savvy and the value of her business. That eventually led to the SBA finding a bank that restructured Beate’s debt of $135,000, which freed up her line of , and made cash available to make it to profitability three months later.
Even moving on emerging opportunities, Beate saw the harsh realities of being an entrepreneur. She saw a lot of failures and turned them into key learnings to light her path forward. “There are so many failures that it would take a whole book to fill them. I literally failed my way to success”, says Beate. “There was this time when I thought I should be in the app business only to realize that I understood nothing about technology and was clueless about tech teams in India. Or that time I became the co-owner of an ebook publishing company only to realize that a $0.99 product requires the same marketing effort as a $10,000 product.” Beate believes that failures are road signs that simply say: not this. That makes enduring a fail exponentially easier.
Beate Chelette also saw struggles in her short stint in the corporate world. After her stock photography syndication business deal closed, Beate was brought on as a Sr. Director and learned just how difficult life in corporations can be for women. That is what has served as the inspiration for The Women’s Code. When she returned to her roots of entrepreneurship, she combined her love for business and her desire to support women with a balanced leadership training to fuel their growth fast.
Of course, so typical for a woman and plus for an immigrant, success came with a big price as well. Beate became a single parent tremendously affected by the tall orders of her entrepreneurial life. There are only so many hours in the day and they have to be used for really important things – like making money, and putting food on the table. Her personal relationships suffered as a result. “When you are an Entrepreneur you work four times as hard for 10 or 15 years so that you don’t have to work for the rest of your life. That comes with serious consequences throughout all areas of one’s life. Entrepreneurship IS sacrifice.”