What’s the inspiration behind UpChoose?
Prior to UpChoose, I helped build the impact investing practice at J.P. Morgan. We funded and launched major initiatives addressing the world’s biggest health, social and environmental challenges, like climate change, nature conservation, waste, modern slavery, and chronic diseases.
Over time I realized that a lot of these challenges are ingrained in our lifestyle, especially in advanced economies. That lifestyle is largely driven by consumption. Since the industrial revolution, the dominant economic model of mass production and consumption has led to unprecedented economic prosperity. It has also resulted in ever-increasing excess, resource depletion, and waste.
UpChoose is an attempt at building an alternative consumption model that reconnects us with what we truly need through simpler and more sustainable services. We aim to unlock precious resources—time, money, mental space—for what truly matters: our relationships and experiences.
What led you here? Did you expect to work in this space?
I have always been interested in the intersection of business and ethics. At university, I studied Philosophy and Economics as two separate tracks, not really knowing how to combine them. I always thought of business as a tool, a means to an end, or something that could be leveraged to support bigger ideals of social justice and positive impact.
I started my career in Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan, with the goal of building my skill set and a better understanding of economic forces. After a couple of years, I had the opportunity to join the Social Finance team to help build the nascent impact investing market. It was a dream job: I spent five years working on major initiatives in health and sustainability-related fields, leveraging J.P. Morgan’s platform to channel investment capital in areas that traditionally relied on government and philanthropic interventions. We built the first venture capital fund dedicated to dementia and Alzheimer's research, the first impact investing vehicle dedicated to nature conservation, and invested in dozens of companies providing essential goods and services—life insurance, clean sanitation, affordable education—to underserved communities around the world. It was pioneering and fulfilling work.
After a few years, the thesis behind UpChoose started to form. I realized how much these challenges were ingrained in our lifestyle, and it became obvious that reimagining consumption was going to be a major need and opportunity for the future.
While I saw a strong focus on upgrading our tools—our cars, building, energy sources—I felt that we needed bolder and more innovative thinking on upgrading our mindsets, especially when it comes to consumerism.
How do you plan to disrupt the traditional consumption model?
Our consumption model is broken because we create economic prosperity with a huge cost to the health of the people and the planet. This cost is no longer hidden or rationalized as a "negative externality."
Yet a consumption model goes beyond what we buy. It’s about how we buy, how we use, how much time and space it occupies in our lives, and how much social status and sense of identity are tied to the pursuit of material goods. It’s not just moving to renewable energy, switching to electric cars, or sucking carbon from the atmosphere. It’s about reimagining our lives and evolving into a more intelligent species able to prosper in harmony with our planet. It’s really our culture.
It’s about reimagining our lives and evolving into a more intelligent species able to prosper in harmony with our planet.
I believe the most effective way to combat this is to build a new model. We can all improve our daily lives, but we need to go beyond awareness and curation. We need to build alternatives that people can use today to eat, dress, play, move around, etc. We need to creatively reimagine supply chain, packaging and shipping models. These alternatives must be able to outperform on price, convenience, quality, and experience. I believe this is a huge opportunity for human creativity and ingenuity for decades to come.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenge(s) you’ve faced while launching your company?
Being bootstrapped for the first couple of years comes with a lot of challenges. You need to learn to do a lot with little resources. It also has great virtues as a forcing function. You need to prioritize and focus on building solid foundations, especially when it comes to delivering value to customers and building a sensible economic model.
We’re creating a new category and not following a recipe book. This means avoiding the temptation of shortcuts and focusing on patiently building an authentic community and customer base, and we are starting with one of the most targeted audiences: new and expectant parents.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
I started UpChoose because of the macro level thesis, but I've learned to love the design process at the micro level. Crafting a new offline and online experience for busy parents, being very close to all of the early customers and seeing how the steps I design are having an impact on people’s behaviors is highly motivating and gratifying. It’s not the kind of work I ever expected to do, but I’m enjoying the thought process. It helps me get clarity on what we’re building today—a radically simpler end-to-end experience—but also serves the underlying philosophy to create a new consumption model that people love, can afford, and that can make their daily lives better and easier.
What’s the #1 skill you think founders need to succeed?
Consistency on mission: having full clarity on why you are doing it and the resilience to go through all of the steps and difficulties, while also enjoying the process.
What is your team culture like?
I think our approach is probably similar to Republic: our mission largely dictates our culture.
We’re building a collaborative and inclusive model where everyone can benefit through smarter behaviors. In order to be successful, our people and culture must be driven by empathy, diversity, curiosity, and collaborative.
What is your superpower?
The ability to navigate between the macro and micro levels, and to connect the dots between the two.
What’s your kryptonite?
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
I am such a big tennis fanatic. I actually wanted to be a tennis pro as a teenager. I try to play whenever I have a chance. I like to play the guitar as well, and I love theater. I even attended drama school during the first two years of university in Paris.