Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives. Woman like InesK, COO of 2000Charge Inc.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?
As the old adage goes that there is no instruction manual for life, my early years as a student in Europe did teach me to have an open mind and be acceptant to change.
It all started when my husband established a hosting company in downtown Los Angeles in early 1995. As the business grew, he often needed an extra hand and I would tag along to meetings, picking up the lingo and at the same time getting a better understanding of the business. As the years passed by, I took on a more serious role as COO of the company, where I now manage the daily operations and oversee the work of 25-plus employees. We added European billing services in 1998, because we ourselves as a merchant had a problem collecting money from our European clients. Our introduction to adult occurred late in 1999, when we were approached by a local valley-based company that was producing Asian content, and they had no means to collect money from their website, as their clients were primarily located in the far east. We then realized that there was an opportunity to build a billing company that would specialize in alternative payment methods, and our own experience as a merchant had already proven our business case. The only companies in the Internet space that were making money at that time were all located in the valley, and we started 2000Charge as the flagship company to address the needs of the adult market. We have since grown as a well known brand in the industry, winning several awards and steadily growing our portfolio of merchants.
WHAT IN YOUR BACKGROUND PREPARED YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW?
As the old adage goes that there is no instruction manual for life, my early years as a student in Europe did teach me to have an open mind and be acceptant to change. Our views related to adult have indeed changed as the advancement in technology has brought society closer to acceptance. Although my background has not been in technology, my daily routine does encompass the technological service we provide as a company, and it also filters through into my personal life with the myriad of gadgets that I seem to be carrying around just to stay in touch my family, friends and the office.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE CHALLENGES OF WORKING IN THE ADULT ONLINE BUSINESS? HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THEM?
As a payment provider we work with adult companies, but we don’t really feel that we are in the adult online business, as we service many other web-based entities in different market segments from all over the world. We have processed transactions for adult companies now for over a decade and we have learned to be patient, diplomatic and understanding. We’ve ran into a few roadblocks over the years due to adult, but it has never stopped us from pushing forward looking for alternative solutions. From a business perspective our background was in hosting, and we were certainly not anticipating the success we have attained over the years in the adult market. I remember our first customer very well, but our European heritage by being a little more open to culture and acceptance, certainly helped overcome the sometimes cold shoulders we received when we presented our business case in the financial sector.
DOES YOUR WORK LIFE AFFECT YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?
As our business has become larger and more complex, I tend to find that my personal time has lessened significantly over the years. My work versus my role as a mom and parent has become increasingly more difficult to manage, and it’s not just the responsibilities you carry with work or the time spent traveling, it’s having a 15-year old that can Google you that makes it sometimes more challenging. I certainly enjoy our working environment, we don’t have hundreds of employees, so it feels like a tight knit group and we encourage our employees to feel at home as much as possible. I step away from it all, as I have a passion for cars and motorcycles, and my go-karting skills are getting better too! Being Italian-German has certainly provided some heated on (and off) track battles, combined with my determination to be perfect with everything that I do.