She’s in her mid 20s, she’s connected with the sherry family, she has set up and sold successful businesses, she likes paragliding, she has that Spanish flair and American get-up-and-go – so what on earth is Christina Domecq doing in Maidenhead? Read on …
For Christina Domecq, the co-founder of SpinVox, being an entrepreneur is not a career option – it’s a vocation. Committed but not obsessive, she makes time for a wide range of sporting and cultural interests.
Her entrepreneurial streak was evident at University. “I read Business and Economics at Boston College and took my Master’s in Finance at Notre Dame. It has a big reputation for football – the gridiron variety – but my enthusiasm was soccer. I was determined to support myself through college and while a knee injury finished my playing career, I did become a professional coach.”
She’s still a fan. “I haven’t been in England long enough to become emotionally tied to any one team. I guess you stick with your childhood allegiance, which in my case was Real Madrid.”
Domecq cut her teeth with internships at Ralph Lauren and Banco Santander. Then she set up an IT consultancy. “It was small scale but successful enough to realise enough capital to launch a training business in New York. I sold it after 9/11 and returned to Spain where I ran a consultancy that was involved in selling a yacht brokerage in Mallorca. It was one of those opportunities you would be crazy to turn down.”
While there, she developed the idea that led to SpinVox. “I researched the concept intensively in 2003 and together with Daniel Doulton launched SpinVox in 2004. It’s a simple enough proposition. We convert voice messages into text for mobile phones or as emails: communication becomes quicker and easier, it’s low cost, and, quite simply, it makes customers’ lives easier.
“We launched in London but when we grew beyond 20 people, moved to Maidenhead where we don’t have West End costs. The surroundings are delightful and we’re in the hi-tech cluster that makes us neighbours of O2 and Vodafone.”
"There is a refreshing outlook here
when it comes to risk-taking …"
In less active moments she’s a jazz fan. “I can hardly even play a kazoo but I love the music. My current number one is Jack Johnson, who is rather like the early Cat Stevens. She’s an avid reader, too. “If I wake up in the middle of the night, which happens often enough, I’ll dip into the ancient philosophers. Aristotle, Plato and Lucretius raised questions that are valid today, and are worth revisiting. But the bonus is that after half an hour it’s easy to sink into what can be either a narcoleptic trance or a deep dream of peace.”
As a counterweight, she’ll turn to the bestseller list. “I can recommend The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, a novel based on Dracula presented as a documentary. Maybe one day I’ll visit Whitby where Bram Stoker got the inspiration for his version.”
She is often asked why she chose to launch SpinVox in the UK. “The decision turned on investor support and market acceptance. The UK is a great place to launch a business – there is a refreshing outlook here when it comes to risk-taking. What’s more, it’s a great place to live. I’m enjoying it hugely and apart from the countryside, there’s a fascinating depth of history that an outsider perhaps notices more than you do. Then there’s the British sense of humour – dry to the point of aridity. I love it.”
Positive and an optimist, she can’t stand indifference – a lack of passion about what you do. “It’s more of a danger in big companies but something even a hands-on entrepreneur must guard against.”
So is she in England for the long haul? “Sure – if you guys will have me.
1997 – Internships with Ralph Lauren and Banco Santander.
1998 – Launched IT consultancy in New York. Sold in 1999.
1999 – Launched training business in New York.
2002 – Headed yacht brokerage in Mallorca.
May 2003 – Co-founded SpinVox with Daniel Doulton but launched in October 2004.