What is Axenic and what does it do?
Schulze: I’ll try to be brief, as I could take up an entire chapter writing the story behind Axenic. Axenic is a global creative investment firm based in Los Angeles, Calif.
I started the company when I was 18 (2012), starting as an agency focusing on web development and branding. Ariya Behjat has been a key player in the company’s growth, as we joined forces in 2016 – he’s the co-founder/president of Axenic.
Axenic is entirely self-funded and has grown organically, changing drastically from what was started in 2012. Today, Axenic invests in branding and marketing solutions for startups, brands or artists entering the market.
In addition, we build excellent relationships with investors and venture capitalists, and assist them in mitigating the risk while entering a new sector or new venture. Working with both investors and the companies directly gives us a unique perspective – we equally want both parties to succeed, we want the relationship to be healthy and the expansion to be beneficial for everyone involved.
Having this network also lets us to connect the right people together: A venture capitalist passionate about health care, with a health-care based startup or an investor stoked on artificial intelligence technology – with a new AI startup in Silicon Valley, etc.
Where do you do business and how much has the company grown in the last few years?
Schulze: We are a global team, with representation in North America, Europe, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Japan and Korea. Our main offices are in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Italy.
Our company has doubled in size as we went global in 2017. This growth has catapulted us into new markets, new networks and we have no intention of slowing down.
We are working very hard to secure an office in Calgary!
What is your vision for the company?
Schulze: We want to help business and invest in companies that can impact or promote a global change. We are focused on innovation within sustainable technology, health-care and wellness, green/net-zero architecture and artificial intelligence – anything that can give back to a community or make someone’s life a bit easier.
I view our expansion to continue into Canada and Asia over the next quarter and the remainder of the year. Our goal is to continually surround ourselves with people who want to change the world and be a key asset to this.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?
Schulze: Starting up is always a challenge for any entrepreneur. I remember telling my parents when I was 18: “Axenic is going to work! Or I’m going to be homeless.” There was no other alternative.
There’s always going to be 100 reasons not to act, or not to start something, so I’d say the biggest challenge is taking that first step, taking that leap of faith in something you many not fully understand. This is why Axenic is so passionate about helping people get through those early obstacles in starting a business.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about being an entrepreneur?
Schulze: Being a young entrepreneur, I’m continually learning. Reminding myself “What I don’t know …” and surrounding myself with people who are experts in those fields.
I think it’s easy to lose yourself in any business environment – but being genuine and honest to your team, investors, partners or colleagues is the most important part. In business, it’s easy to lose the humanistic elements that drive us in the first place.
Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.