Interview with Elisabeth Steiger, Founder of Imperial Glamour Club

In 50 words or less: tell us about your business No time, not satisfied with your body, not feeling good about yourself? Our app is the solution without drastic lifestyle changes – perfect for the woman on the go. Our easy, concise and effective exercises developed by European experts can be accessed anywhere and anytime with instructions in local languages.

What’s your personal background?

I studied business in Austria and fell in love with Asia during my exchange semester in Beijing. I then worked in the public and private sector in Europe and China. When I lived in Shanghai, I realised the need for the product – I worked long hours, had a great social life but hardly had time for myself or to exercise. In addition to that, I started to suffer from really bad back pain because of my bad posture in front of the computer.

I’m a passionate runner but due to weather and air pollution, I couldn’t practice it like in Austria. Therefore, I went to a gym. I was not an expert in using the equipment. Furthermore, I realised a big difference in the advice I got from personal trainers in Europe and in Asia. In contrast to the currently promoted beauty ideal, I didn’t want to build up huge muscles. I just wanted to be slender and feel better. And soon I realised I was not the only one, especially in Asia.

Back in Austria, I talked to a sports doctor and a professional trainer for women. This trainer (who later on conceptualised our trainings) gave me easy exercises which I could do anywhere and without spending much time. With such a small and easy change (I started doing 1-3 brief exercises per day), I started to feel so much better and also my back pain was suddenly gone. And I was happy to see some positive change on my body. That’s why I wanted to share my experience with other women with similar needs and aspirations.

How do you spread the word to grow your community?

I focus a lot on word-of-mouth. I do think if it is a good product, people will tell each other. In addition, I try to use my personal network and of course, we are currently starting our online campaigns and partnerships with magazines paired with some promotional activities on the streets.

What do you enjoy most about the business?

Working with inspiring people whose major motivation is to offer a great product and be on this journey together. Also, I love that it makes me learn so many new things.

What’s the most important thing you’re working on right now?

As we just launched: spreading the word, listening to our first users and keep moving!

What were some of the biggest challenges in launching Imperial Glamour Club?

I started on my own and had to do everything from scratch and juggle multiple tasks. When the team grew, I had to adapt my leadership style and try to understand the different needs of the team members – a team at a set needs different motivation on a long shooting day than programmers, designers or interns. We also offer our app in countries with different laws regarding online business. These laws can sometimes change quickly and we had to be very flexible to adapt our product and operations.

What book do you think every entrepreneur should read?

No need to mention the obvious ones: Branson, Thiel, Musk, Sandberg. As entrepreneurs are practically married to their business, I think it is crucial to have some downtime and think about something else. Therefore, I’d recommend “I am Malala” –one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. At the moment, I am reading the diaries of the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren.

You are active in the startup scene in Hong Kong and Singapore. How do the startup scenes compare?

I like the vibe in both cities. The startup scenes are quite small, but I think this can be an advantage as it is very easy to build up your network. I do think that both cities are going through a lot of change and have become more open. As a European, I often see that a lot of startups in Hong Kong and Singapore focus on South-East Asia only but not on Mainland China despite its market size. I think it would be more beneficial for the eco-system to take some risks and make the China-move.

5 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

Imperial Glamour Club aims to have impacted a lot of women to improve their lifestyle and how they feel about themselves: more confident, loved and happy. In addition to this fitness community, our app aims to build bridges between Asia and Europe, as we combined cultural elements of the two regions: in addition to workout exercises, we included dances with elements from ballet, ballroom dance and Chinese folk dance and mixed modern and classical music. As the app is also available in Europe, we also contribute to making Asian cultures more accessible.

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Interview by Regina Larkö

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