Anne Benissan, the founder of EZcouple, was born and raised in a middle-class family in the South West of France. She has always been an eager learner. By age ten, she knew that she would not live in France when she grew up.
Her family faced a massive economic downturn in the 1980’s. Her parents ended up separating. The divorce and the years surrounding it radically changed her life and fashioned her deeply.
As a result, she has been highly motivated to question the workings of the world around her and strived to find the best way to understand and avoid the mishaps she witnessed. More than anything else, her goal was to make her personal life a success. To achieve her goal, she gave priority to building her family, above all else.
To achieve her goal, she gave priority to building her family, above all else.
Her commitment to her family guided her to abandon her blossoming career as a lawyer. During her engagement, she was debating whether she should wait to have a child or not, but two of her female colleague lawyers, at a high-end London law firm said, “The only question you should ask yourself is: what will matter to you in ten, fifteen years from now?”.
She admits the decision was difficult because she loved the law passionately; the brainstorming international law required, the research, the interaction with other lawyers, and the excitement she felt while working on each case. Despite her love for her career, she decided she would not wait to have a child.
She and her husband started their expatriate life when their first two children were aged two years and six months respectively. They have lived in Singapore, Hong-Kong, California, and now back in Singapore. Their third child was born in Hong-Kong, at a time when the concept of EZcouple was brewing in her mind.
She says, “The challenges brought by moving in different countries that unsettle my belief systems and raise my awareness on the relativity of values and cultural baggage, have deeply shaped me as a woman, as a mother, as a wife.”
Anne is an avid learner in any subject that matters to her, and she believes that the quest to understand oneself and the world we live in is a never-ending one. She concludes, “That is what makes life so beautiful.”
The New Savvy: Tell us more about your background. How has your past shaped you to be who you are now?
Anne: I was born and raised in a middle-class family in the South West of France. I have always been an eager learner, and I knew from age 10 that I would not live in France. My thirst for knowledge and understanding is constant, and I cumulated degrees in very different fields until I started EZcouple in 2010.
My husband and I started our expatriate life when our first two children were two and six months old. We have lived in Singapore, Hong Kong, California, and now back to Singapore. My third child was born in Hong Kong. The concept of EZcouple was brewing in my mind during that period.
The challenges brought by moving to and living in different countries that unsettle my belief systems and raise my awareness on the relativity of values and cultural baggage, have deeply shaped me as a woman, mother, and wife. Resilience and flexibility are at the core of a fruitful expatriate life. They both help a great deal in a business venture.
The New Savvy: Congrats on launching your new app! Tell us more about it.
Anne: EZcouple is a digital personal assistant for a long-term relationship. It aims to make communication in relationships easier and smoother and enhance the gift giving experience within relationships. In today’s lifestyle, it is quite challenging to nurture a romantic relationship beyond the dating stage.
My experiences and research have shown that without nurturing, all relationships eventually die. I got the idea to use technology to optimise this nurturing, considering the limited time resources we all have. When it comes to a romantic relationship, optimisation implies taking into account gender differences and love languages. EZcouple allows the woman in the relationship to state clearly what she would want/need and guides the man in the relationship to feel successful whenever he wants to please his life partner.
The site relies on both partners’ registration, with the first one to register being asked to pay the monthly subscription for the whole account.
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The New Savvy: How is EZcouple different and how is it useful?
Anne: EZcouple is an entirely new concept with all the advantages and challenges attached to that. To this day, this is the first tool of its kind.
EZcouple, over a period of one year, covers most major events for the relationship and truly changes the dynamic of the relationship, kindling a spark fuelled by the virtuous cycle of giving, receiving, and appreciation. Men never feel happier than when they make their wife/ life partner happy.
Often, spontaneously the misunderstandings linked to our gender differences create frustrations that hinder the potential of our relationship. EZcouple connects both partners, taking into account our gender differences, and makes sure it is a win-win situation for both.
Let me give you a quick example: Her birthday is coming up, he has no clue what to give her, she is convinced that she has thrown enough hints for him to know, his focus though is elsewhere. The chances for her to be pleased with her birthday celebration are slim.
With EZcouple, she would have written throughout the year the things she would love, he would get a reminder in due time for him to secure a gift that he can find on his wall on EZcouple, and most importantly he would be guided to give the gift in a meaningful way for her.
When he gives the right gift, at the right time and the right way how do you think she’ll feel?
The New Savvy: What do you do at work?
Anne: Everything besides coding!
The New Savvy: What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
Anne: Finding the energy and keeping the faith no matter what.
The New Savvy: What is your ideal growth plan?
Anne: For now the goal is to secure and satisfy the first ten couples fully registered on EZcouple within the next two months. My estimation is that one couple brings between one and two new couples.
The New Savvy: Share two advice for female entrepreneurs.
Anne: Not sure I am in any position to give advice. But, what I can say from my experience is:
Always be ready for the unexpected, and the quicker you learn to use the unexpected the better.
Never neglect to take care of yourself. Your inner balance is crucial to keep things going.
The New Savvy: What is the one advice that has impacted you the most?
Anne: A belief is just a belief: you can choose to keep it or change it and find one that serves you better.
The New Savvy: Which three adjectives describe your strengths?
Anne: Questioning. Pragmatic. Perseverant.
The New Savvy: What financial planning have you done for the future?
Anne: My husband and I do the financial planning of our lives, both personal and business, together, and we update it regularly. I completely finance EZcouple with a clear control of the expenses until income comes.
The New Savvy: Give our readers some advice on how they can improve their financial wellness.
Anne: Money is first and foremost freedom.
We all better check our beliefs around money and finances because there lies the primary blocker. Women, in particular, have keen intuition and great ideas for investment and useful spending. Their view of the ROI is broader than a single or double-digit percentage. And we need their unconventional way of viewing finances.
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The New Savvy: When did you start planning your finances? And how?
Anne: I started planning my finances when I was a law student. I had an allowance from my father that covered 70% of my needs and expenses. I was immediately aware that a buffer is necessary, so as soon as I could, I started to save money to give me the breathing space I needed. As a result, I became more creative in finding jobs that would make more money.
The New Savvy: Do you invest? Why?
Anne: Yes, my husband and I invest in ideas and people. My husband has a more conventional financial market perspective compared to mine, though. We both invest in projects and people we believe in. The reasons are dual: we want to make more money, and we are also willing to take risks to participate in building a better world.
The New Savvy: How do you think modern women can be more fulfilled in their lives?
Anne: If they stop comparing themselves to an unrealistic perfect woman, and start acting on the fact that men are not and cannot be a hairy lady, I think a lot would fall into place in their lives.
The New Savvy: Do you believe in the traditional roles of men and women?
Anne: I think we live in a time that is fascinating because it allows us to question everything and choose a different path. I believe in the deep needs that men and women have. These requirements are stronger than anything else. And whether these needs are met or not is defining whether we are happy or not.
Men, for instance, need to protect and provide; that is what fulfils them in a relationship, and if they can’t do that they will look for another woman who accepts to receive from him. We women who have a career often show our yang side on a daily basis, and we fail to acknowledge our deep need to let go, trust and nurture the ones we love.
The challenge today is for women to balance this yin and yang energy and accept to get in touch with their deep femininity in their private life. In other words, women need to allow men to be men with them, not because it meets to some extent the traditional role requirements but because it is fulfilling for both men and women.
The New Savvy: Which women do you most admire in life?
Anne: Admiration means nothing to me, but I do look up to the women who succeed in balancing their life and are truly genuinely happy. Rare specimen indeed! I only know two such women.
The New Savvy: Which three people (famous or otherwise) would you most like to invite to a dinner party?
Anne: Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg, Simone Weill.
The New Savvy: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
Anne: I would go to the Fjords in Iceland to enjoy their beauty while they are still around.
The New Savvy: How do you spend your free time?
Anne: I take care of myself: I read and do anything that fuels my energy.
The New Savvy: What are you most afraid of?
Anne: Lacking the energy to fulfil all my roles.
The New Savvy: Give us a parting quote!
Anne: We are lucky to live in the most fantastic time humanity has ever known!
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