Meet: Laura Valeske – Senior Venture Developer at Inkitt
We met our Senior Venture Developer, Laura Valeske, who shared unique insights about her three and half year long journey at Inkitt.
Laura has seen her own role evolve and she’s watched the company grow from an innovative start-up to an industry game-changer. With degrees in business and finance, Laura was perfectly suited to take up an operational role in the company straight out of school, and she’s become an integral part of the Inkitt team ever since.
Hi Laura! Thanks so much for chatting today. Can you tell us your job title and what your work entails?
Sure. I’m the Senior Venture Development Manager. I have an operations role within the company which is pretty wide spread. I essentially do things to help keep the company running from the operational side, including finance, bringing new projects forward, and fund-raising.
Although three-and-a-half years may not be that long in the grand scheme of a work career, it’s an eternity at a start-up. How has your job changed and grown since you’ve been with the company?
When I started, I was a venture developer, but I was also solely responsible for recruiting, human resources, and finance. I managed the office, planned the parties, and other fun stuff. Part of my job was to take care of the employees.
So, you were essentially a jack of all trades?
Absolutely. You have no idea how many tables I’ve built!
That’s funny, and it makes sense. In my opinion, part of the excitement when signing on with a new venture is the ability to do so many things and learn about the business from the ground up. But as the company grew, did your role become more focused?
Yes, it’s narrowed. Some of the different roles I had, grew too big and are now managed by other people. For example, recruiting and human resources have been taken over by others. I now own our entire Finance function, as well as manage occasional strategic projects where someone is needed who can coordinate across multiple functions, like the launch of our newest format: Audiobooks.
The vision for Inkitt started as one thing and morphed into another. You were there to witness this evolution. Can you talk a little about the changes you’ve seen in the company over time?
I started at the cusp of a big change. The company was moving away from Amazon publishing and trying to do something new. I witnessed the team come together and ask what made us great? What could we do moving forward that was different? I got to watch the development of GALATEA, Inkitt’s exclusive and innovative reading app. I was there when the concept was first developed, through the testing, right through having our first GALATEA best-seller and making our first million from that. I was also involved in the first venture capital/Series A raise which helped us secure funding from an amazing US investor. We’ve grown and learned so much since the early days; it’s exciting to see Inkitt having found product market fit, and now scaling to meet our ambition!
Everyone I talk to mentions the incredible culture at Inkitt. It seems like it has remained consistent in that innovation and hard work are rewarded and independent thinking is encouraged. How would you describe the company’s culture?
I’d describe it similarly, and the culture hasn’t changed much over the years. We’re very open to new ideas, and we support people’s hard work to bring something new forward. We also get the opportunity to try working on new and different things. For example, I was asked to support content and come up with a plan for audiobook production. It was such a random thing for someone who’s never worked in content! But it gave me a chance to do something I might not have otherwise. Now we have over thirty seasons live on audiobooks. This kind of thing happens for so many people in so many different departments. We come together, put our brains together, and do something innovative and new for the company.
What do you like best about your job?
I like that I get to try out so many different things. I’d be really bored if I had to do the same thing every day! I also never wanted to work in the dry finance side of things. I wanted to do fundraising and venture development, which has a more creative side. I get to do that here. It’s exciting and a challenge to help solve problems for the company.
You moved to Berlin to take this job. How do you like your new(ish) home?
To be honest, Berlin was never a city I wanted to live in, but now I love it here! I love the culture. It’s super vibrant. And because most of my colleagues aren’t from Berlin either, it’s fun to explore the city with them.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about a job at Inkitt?
I’d say that it’s amazing to work with so many smart and driven people. We are always running toward our goal, and it’s fun to do that with people who are passionate about the project.
Thank you for being part of our journey, Laura!
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