Fireside Chat with Laura Arcade, Co-Founder at Peccala

August 4, 2022
5 min read

Paris-born Laura Arcade has a Caribbean flair and a knack for DIY activities like building her own furniture. Her extensive experience in marketing and desire to find a new challenge has brought her to start her first company with Aldo Mora Sanchez and JJ Jones at Peccala. When she’s not busy building the product from the ground up, you can find her traveling the world or enjoying concerts and festivals but very rarely on social media.

Laura, tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Paris, and in my early teens, I moved to the Caribbean where I lived for six years. As a person of color, this was the first time I wasn’t a “minority” and this was a really life-changing experience.

I moved back to France to go to business school, during which time I did internships in Prague, Czechia, and New York City. My time in New York made a lasting impression on me, and from then on I knew that I always wanted to work abroad and be around a diverse group of people because I liked the melting pot of New York. That’s also been a significant driver in my life for me. For almost 14 years, I’ve been living in Switzerland, first in Geneva and then in Zurich.

When I was younger, I played competitive basketball, and, in general, sports were a big part of my life. I’ve always been an avid reader, primarily fictional books, and I probably spend an insane amount of time watching movies, series, and documentaries (even though I haven’t owned a TV in 18 years).

I also love music and DIY projects. I’ve built my own bed for instance, and I really enjoy every step of the process from designing to the actual build. Building something with my own hands is also a nice change of pace from work-focused intellectual thinking.

What work experience do you have?

After my master’s, I got a job at the Procter & Gamble EMEA HQ in Geneva, which is how I ended up in Switzerland.

As someone who’s studied marketing, it’s an amazing company to kick-start your career. For four years, I worked as a brand manager but realized that the fast-moving consumer goods industry, wasn’t really for me. So then, I did a short stint in construction with Caterpillar, and it was interesting to see how they had a completely different marketing approach and teams set up. It definitely made me realize that diversity in company settings and teams was essential for me.

So even though I met good people there, I decided to move on and found EF Education First. Again, this was a new industry, private education, so I had to go through a steep learning curve and take on new challenges. I did both marketing and sales, so I had to learn a new skill set. This was also the first time that I got to manage a team. I enjoyed training people, and even though I made many mistakes, it was a great learning experience, and I learned that I thoroughly enjoy managing and coaching people.

I like to help people get to where they want to go in their careers and find a lot of happiness in doing that. After three years there, I took a small career break, traveled around, and took some time to figure out what I wanted my next move to be. That’s when I decided to jump into the world of startups.

While the money isn’t as good as multinational companies, you have way more independence at startups. People are more open to taking risks, and execution is much faster. That’s when I joined Lykke, a crypto exchange, back in 2018. In true Laura fashion, I went into a new industry, crypto, and had to learn all about it and startup life, from fundraising to accountability and taking on more responsibilities.

After that, I moved on to Frontify, another industry again, in SaaS and B2B. Having worked as a brand manager, I thought Frontify had a lot of potential and would’ve loved to have a brand management tool like Frontify when I was at P&G. After two years, I started to get an itch to try entrepreneurship. After working on a couple of different projects, I joined Antler, and the rest is history.

How did you meet the team?

We met at Antler in Berlin, an early-stage VC, in April 2021.

I believe we gravitated toward each other because of our shared interest in crypto. I was actively trading crypto before meeting them, so I thought it was cool when I heard about Aldo’s trading technology.

JJ and Aldo approached me to work together, but I told them that I was not interested if they were looking to develop a product with High Net Worth Individuals or Institutional investors as their primary target audience.

I wanted to work on a project that would have a positive impact on ordinary people’s lives, and that’s when they returned telling me they were in the same boat. We met in an early-stage VC in Berlin, Antler. They scout for people who have interesting profiles and then you can talk to the 50–60 people in your cohort to find a fit for your business. I liked JJ and Laura because of their skills and personality and thought it was a good mix. We’re aligned in the expectations and vision and that’s really important.

Why crypto?

Why not crypto? When I started with Lykke in 2018, I began getting interested in cryptocurrency. Since I was their Head of Marketing, I had to learn about the space quickly and found it fascinating. I also wanted to do something in tech and innovative, so this was the perfect fit and a good challenge.

That being said, it wasn’t all good, and I had to experience a lot of mansplaining as well as an overall lack of diversity, which kinda put me off working in the industry again. Then when I came to Antler, I saw what Aldo was creating, and it started to change my mind. Mainly because I once met a group of creative minds, MIT-type guys, who tried to do what Aldo did. And they were never able to succeed. I think that’s one of the things that impressed me about Aldo. That’s when I decided to follow him because he’s brilliant.

How would you describe Peccala’s mission?

It’s all about giving people the possibility to achieve some kind of financial freedom. Whatever that means for them since everyone is different and looks at it differently. That’s the ultimate goal. Earn a passive income so that they can achieve financial freedom.

What have you learned since starting Peccala?

How to build a product — literally from scratch.

This was the perfect time to learn an entirely new skill set, such as working with developers, and engineers, understanding a bit of code, web3, and various frontend tools like low code development platforms, and Figma.

I also had to learn how to design a web app and website.

I knew that being an entrepreneur was going to be challenging but it turned out to be even more so than I thought. I’ve always been a hard worker, but having to both lead on the Product and on the Marketing is definitely a daily challenge, and I’ve learned more than ever before, to tap into my network of friends, former colleagues, etc. for help.

There are a million things you can do and a million directions you can go. So it’s vital to have a super-strong inner vision or guidance to stay on the right path. The number one reason startups fail is because of choosing the wrong co-founders.

With JJ and Aldo, I’m confident we have a great team, and Antler also helped demystify many things for me.

Now I hope to keep building a product that’s available worldwide with a great and diverse team from various nationalities and points of view. I’d love to be the type of company people aspire to work for because we’ll put people first. Not just the clients we serve but also the employees we hire, and I think if we can help hundreds of thousands or even millions of people get closer to their financial freedom — whatever that means for them — then we’ll have succeeded.

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