She was 19 when she dropped out of university, developed her app, gained 120k+ users in slightly more than half a year, she was broke, without funds to promote her business. She did it all using her creativity, skills, and experience.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the restless spirit, Angelique Toque, the marketing wizard that creates magic around products.
You’ve dropped out of university in the first two weeks. You’ve been severely criticised for your decision. You said it was the right step to take. Now you’re a blogger, you develop apps, help others to market their apps. What was the factor that pushed you to do so?
Well, this is a crazy story. I’m a woman of things — I have always been doing something. I’m this kind of person who tries many things, even the bad ones, because I believe that doing things, bring unique experiences. When I was at the Junior School I started to work as a marketing specialist, after a few years I started to build my own app with my boyfriend, Piotr. This was the first serious project. The first thing that could absolutely change my life in many aspects. We had a 50/50 chance because we didn’t know if we will succeed or not. But I bet everything on Proud — even my studies. I dropped out of the uni because in general I hated school. I’m a self-taught woman, I don’t like when somebody forces me to do anything. I know it might sound strange, but it’s true.
When I had a high-school certificate exam I spent almost 80% of my time at home learning on my own because I felt that being at school wasn’t that productive for me. Teachers were calling me: Angie – the one who appears and disappears. That was me, always going upstream. My life motto is simple “You only live once”. I told myself if not now then I can do it later… It’s been over 2 years since I decided to live on my own terms and so far I’m doing great. I earn money doing the things I love. I had a lecture about marketing at the most prestigious university in Poland and I accomplished it without studies so well… I think everyone can do it — it’s just the matter of the right mindset.
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t: you will always be right. 😉
As we can read on your blog: “According to a 2015 research by Gap American Association:
— 98% of people said that taking a ‘gap year’ helped them develop as a person.
— 84% of respondents said that taking a gap year helped them acquire useful career skills.
— 77% said that a gap year helped them find their purpose in life.”
Can you see yourself in any of the groups above? Did not pursuing higher education help you in a way?
It’s hard to choose one group because many things happened in my life — on many different levels and with many different aspects. I developed as a person, I learned how to make decisions, how to save money, and what’s most important: how to earn money. I discovered what I do and do not want to do in life. In general, being a teenager sucks because everything around is changing both physically and emotionally. Life is like a rollercoaster ride: fast and furious… There is no time to think and grow, because society forces you to blindly follow the standards. After all we are all different and we have different needs. Spending this time on exploring and discovering something new might bring lots of positive values in your adult life!
There is no time to think and grow, because society forces you to blindly follow the standards.
Do you think that holding a university degree is essential to succeed?
This is a very good question. It depends on what job you choose. For instance, in my case I feel like it’s not necessary to get a degree. In the marketing and business world everything changes all the time. If you don’t follow it you will fall behind. At the university you can learn the theory but after all you need to have the practical knowledge and experience. Many companies require experience from the first day of your work, which is ridiculous (!). I learned a lot when I launched my own projects and this helped me to build my marketing career. What’s more: it’s a part of my story and my personal brand. It helps me stand out from the crowd because I’m “different” and “unique” in some ways. But of course if you want to be a doctor – you can not cure people without proper studies. Sadly there is no better option than doing the standard career path of attending the lectures and doing the exams and probably there will and should never be!
How did your adventure with marketing start?
Despite of the fact that I’m only 21 I had many jobs. I started my “entrepreneurial life” when I was 11 I was a cherry picker in a small village next to my grandma house. It was great experience because I had to wake up early in the morning around 4 am (I don’t have to mention that I was having holidays at that time). It was the best lesson of persistence ever. Then I was selling shoes online – my dad had bought 1000 pairs of them and gave me one box and told me: “Angie, you can do what you want with it. Give it to your friends or sell it if you know how”.
I think it was my first contact with marketing even though I didn’t know that I was doing marketing at that particular moment, lol. Then I was the hairdresser at my mom’s studio (I have always wanted to be a hairdresser to keep the family business going). After some time I had a chance to promote a small iOS game. I was 15 years old then and I found it really cool. In the meantime I was cleaning houses and offices, I was working at a small restaurant and at a cafe in Ireland. Then I started to work as a junior marketing specialist with several new projects. After all those experiences with physical work I realised that marketing and creative work is all I want to do in my life. Now, I have been working with clients from the UK, New Zealand and US launching new apps and businesses. Very soon I’d like to start my own remote marketing agency with the world’s top talented, young entrepreneurs on board but that’s a topic for another talk :).
… and with blogging?
I did it by accident I’d say. When you work on your business, you have some limitations and in case of our product, it was money. We had never paid for any ad or promotion campaign. Every single thing I did, was absolutely for free. I used all my skills and creative thinking to solve problems that we were faced with. Four weeks before the final release of Proud I started to contact the press and journalists — I did not get any answer back, because it was December… All those people were thinking about xmas and the family time and surely not about brand new products. So… I was like “Well, seems like we won’t have any reviews at the day of the launch. I had to think really seriously: is there any way to create the hype even without those people?”. And yes! There was. I wrote an article with a catchy title “I’m 19 and I’ve just launched my first iPhone app”. In the article I shared my whole marketing experience, ideas and growth hacks that I conducted during working on Proud. I published it on Medium and surprisingly, it was pretty successful! At the end of the day I believe that good marketing is all about good relationships, unbelievable magic and memorable stories.
You are originally from Poland, currently living in Spain. Why Spain?
When I finished high school I was traveling with my boyfriend across the Europe. We were looking for a place to stay for a bit longer. As my first choice I wanted to live in Ireland (I spent there almost every holiday and I’m emotionally connected with this country) but then we went to Spain — Valencia and… I fell in love with this city, people, language, weather and atmosphere in general. If you feel like you don’t know what’s life about and you feel lost from time to time — Spain is the best place to learn how to enjoy the little things in life. For me, Spanish people are literally life’s magicians. They are relaxed, open-minded and very kind. One note though: the level of unemployment in Spain is really high so if you want to find a job here, better have your own remote clients because you won’t probably find it here ;).
Would you say that Spain is the right choice for digital nomads?
Definitely! As I said the weather is perfect for almost the whole year – January is the coldest I guess. Spain is not that expensive (of course it depends in which part of Spain you want to live and what standard of life do you prefer). For me it’s amazing to live close to the beach, work from many cafes around the city and simply enjoy the life. Valencia helps me grow as a woman and as an entrepreneur. It’s also my source of constant inspiration. I’m originally from a small city in Poland where there are no many perspectives for young people… I’m sure that if I stayed there – I wouldn’t have done so many extraordinary things. Beautiful place and valuable people helps you make better life decisions!
You are the definition of a doer. You’re not afraid not to fit in the society’s standards. Many people do. What would you say to people who want to follow their dreams and are still hesitating?
If you (Dear Reader) have spent your 5 precious minutes of your life to read this interview
— I want you to remember one thing that can be a bit harsh: no one cares about you.
People usually care more about themselves than about other people. They can talk about you for 5 minutes, they can judge you, but after all they will be thinking about their own life. If you realise that nobody cares about you, you learn a new quality in your life. You can become free to decide what you want to do every day. You can try many things and commit mistakes along the way. You are not afraid to learn and experience a lot of beautiful moments in your life. And finally you learn who you really are, deep there inside!
I have been following this advice since I dropped out of the university. It had always helped me to take action and move forward. I wish somebody told me that when I was younger. It couldn’t have been simpler than that!