Archive for the ‘ Entrepreneur ’ Category

Jonathan Daily – Technology Lead at Favorly

NAME: Jonathan Daily
INDUSTRY: Internet
POSITION: Technology Lead
COMPANY:FAVORLY
LOCATION: Brooklyn NY


CAREER OR COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Favorly is a new social networking tool that encourages people to help
other people.  Users make favor requests for anything big or small,
and then Favorly pushes them to other users based on the geographical,
social, and skill requirements of the favor.  I began designing and
testing Favorly in April 2011, and launched an early beta in November.
We are currently deploying a full redesign that will be ready for
public use in March.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?
The first product I ever built that was actually used by the public on
a large scale was a reply-all group text messaging application called
WeTxt.  I learned so much from launching WeTxt from both a technical,
and business stand point.  It was my first product concept that I was
able to actually see through to reality, and that means a lot to me.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?
WeTxt again.  WeTxt never became a commercial success.  The reason it
didn’t isn’t because of the concept, but because of the execution.  I
launched WeTxt in March 2008, and couldn’t raise a penny for it.
GroupMe, also a reply-all group text messaging app, launched 2 years
later in 2010, raised $10.6 million, and was sold to Skype for $80
million within a year.  The difference between WeTxt and Groupme is a
bit of right place – right time, but the truth is more in the
execution.  GroupMe was executed extremely well, and WeTxt was not.  I
could list 100 things I did wrong with WeTxt, and they are all lessons
learned that I’ve taken with me to my subsequent projects.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME?
Deciding to do it again after not exactly succeeding the first time,
and again after that.  I decided to move on from WeTxt (too early
btw.) and had to decide if I wanted to re-enter the steady paycheck
world, or try to continue as an entrepreneur.  Deciding to continue on
was the harder decision, but ultimately the right one for me.  I found
myself in the same situation between United We Tab and Favorly.  I
know I made the right decision; I am taking my lessons learned over
the past four years, and am more determined than ever.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE TO ANYONE STARTING OUT? (both in your field and
starting out in general)
You need to recognize why you are doing something, and set your
expectations for it appropriately.  If you are just trying to get out
of the corporate world, then you need to diligently test your
hypothesis, and fine tune your business for what customers actually
want so you can create a successful (profitable) company.  If you are
trying to create something that you love, you have to accept the
reality that it may not correspond to a full time business, or you are
going to have to be flexible with your idea in order to shape it for
customers.

It’s a long road.  Every step is a challenge, and each one presents
new challenges.  Getting your business to “launch” is really just the
first challenge.  It’s continually hard, sometimes discouraging, and
other times exciting.  You need to be in it for the long haul in order
to turn it into a success.  If you stick with it, adapt to new
challenges, and are willing to try new things, you will likely see
good results.

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Emily May – Founder of Hollaback

NAME: Emily May
INDUSTRY: Non – profit
POSITION: Executive Director
COMPANY:  HOLLABACK!
LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

CAREER OR COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Hollaback! is a movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology, media advocacy, and policy. By collecting women and LGBTQ folks’ stories and pictures in a safe and share-able way with our mobile phone applications, Hollaback! is creating a crowd-sourced challenge to the status quo. It breaks the silence that has perpetuated sexual violence internationally, pronounces that any gender-based violence is unacceptable, and creates a world where we have an empowered response to street harassment.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?
I’m most proud of giving a platform, and a voice, to over 150 activists in 44 cities, 16 countries, and 9 different languages around the world. They are working in their communities to move street harassment from something that was isolating, to something that is sharable, to something that is completely unacceptable. If I have my way these will not just be the leaders of the movement to end street harassment — these will be the next leaders of the world.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?
We haven’t ended street harassment yet.  The upshot is that we’re not stopping until we do.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME?
Being executive director at 30 isn’t easy.  And being a woman makes it even harder.  While funders conceptually support the idea of young female leadership, but the reality is that they are timid to invest it. I can’t say I’ve overcome this yet, but I can we’re working it. We’re continuously making tremendous impact on a shoestring.  Just imagine what we could do if they gave us the whole shoe.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE TO ANYONE STARTING OUT?
Test your model for as long as you possible can before leaving your full-time job (we took 6 years).  You’ll know you’re ready when you feel so passionate about your project that you literally can’t do anything else. It stops becoming a decision, and starts becoming a calling.  Once you are ready to take the leap: don’t look back. Be a badass, don’t be afraid to make decisions based on gut instinct, and never, ever lose sight of why you got in this to begin with.  Your vision is your most important asset.

Eva Mohr @ Holstee

NAME: Eva Mohr
INDUSTRY: Sustainable product design, fashion
POSITION: I am in charge of the production and overseeing the warehouse processes.
COMPANY: HOLSTEE
LOCATION: NYC
CAREER OR COMPANY DESCRIPTION:  At Holstee we design lifestyle with a conscience

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?
Moving to New York from Europe with no idea what is going to happen. But knowing what I want and definitely not want, and I think I managed this quite successfully so far.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?
I don’t like the term failure, because otherwise I would have never made it to NYC, and I would have not met all the awesome and inspiring people on the way.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME?
I don’t know, since looking back all “obstacles” (even though there were definitely times I was about to give up) seem like a piece of cake now and I am ready to change the world. I am pretty fearless and I see obstacles as challenges.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE TO ANYONE STARTING OUT?
Persistency…which I think is important in any field or industry.

Kara Dake – Co-Founder & CEO at Signalfy

NAME: Kara Dake
INDUSTRY: Events/Experiences
POSITION: Co-Founder & CEO
COMPANY:  SIGNALFY
LOCATION: NYC/San Francisco


CAREER OR COMPANY DESCRIPTION:  
We’ve recognized, out of frustration, that there is no go-to resource to discover local events, view who is attending, and share your attendance with your friends. Why, if events are inherently social, is the current event discovery + sharing process, so…not? Signalfy is the new way to discover what’s on, what’s hot and who’s going in your city. Discover local events including art + music + fashion + film + tech and “signal” to friends your interest in attending the events.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?
My biggest success so far is dropping out of the corporate rat race and pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams. It was definitely a bit frightening at first, but there’s nothing better than living your life, on your own terms.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?
The first startup I worked on was a fashion incubator. My business partner and I spent almost 9 months in the planning stages, updating the business plan and taking many, many meetings. However, during this process we did little to test our assumptions and receive real feedback from designers. And, the idea grew way too big to manage. Looking back, it was definitely the complete opposite of what I’ve now learned via the Lean Startup movement.

I also learned that I had put wayyyy to much pressure on myself and this business succeeding. While perseverance and stamina are very important in starting a business, I’ve learned that you can’t measure your own personal self-worth based on the success (or failure) of your project. I guess it’s like they say – you’re only as good as your last film/design/website?? Well, I don’t subscribe to that any more. Instead, I’ve increased other things in my life that make me happy, too – health & wellness, friendships, family, spirituality, and continued learning.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME?
I have had to deal with a ton of uncertainty in the last two years. I started renting out my apartment full-time using Airbnb.com, and I was able to scrape by on enough income to quit my job and stay with friends & family. This has been amazing as I’ve been able to focus full-time on my entrepreneurial projects and getting my MBA at NYU. But, it’s been extremely challenging to deal with not having a home base to stay grounded. I joke with people that sometimes I’ve had to stay in Central Park. It hasn’t gotten that bad, but there are days when I don’t have the right clothes to wear to a meeting, or the notebook I need is…somewhere. This period of my life is coming to an end soon, and I’ve realized it’s helped teach me to live simply and in the present moment (mostly!).

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE TO ANYONE STARTING OUT?
I firmly believe that one of the most important things in life is to do what you love. In Buddhism, it’s called following your dharma. I really wish this was focused on more in schools, vs. just chasing a dream because you think you will make a lot of money, or it will make your parents happy. If you can’t do what you love right now, get involved in side projects or help others that ARE doing what you find interesting. Figure out ways you can support yourself with alternative revenue streams. Then take the leap!!

MORE ABOUT ME:
Co-Founder & CEO @ Signalfy and check out my new blog on how to be healthy as a very busy entrepreneur.

Jeffrey Michael – Fashion Designer

NAME: Jeffrey Michael
INDUSTRY: Fashion & Costume Design
POSITION: Head Designer / Owner
COMPANY:  Jeffrey Michael Design Ltd.
LOCATION: London England

CAREER OR COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Fusing elements of high fashion, lighting integration, and layered organic texture, Jeffrey Michael Design Ltd. (JMD), has created a high end, one of a kind designer fashion brand sought after by celebrity client, magazine, television, and for use in worldwide performance. JMD owns patents for lightup shoes, and heels in Europe and North America and the brand will debut its first exciting fashion lines this October and February of this year. Production will begin shortly after this first international represented fashion catwalk event, and selected clothing will begin distribution in November into exciting Canadian and worldwide stores, including ones in Toronto, Montreal, London, NYC, and LA. JMD will continue working on one of a kind custom made celebrity projects and with the current magazine and media contacts made over the last 2 years where JMD the brand was established in London England to great success and acclaim. The company has plans to move shortly to NYC for its production of each of ongoing seasonal fashion collection, while traveling abroad to promote, create, take part in,  and visit the world fashion weeks and events.

Some of the exciting past projects that JMD has worked on include making lightup shoes for U2, creating dresses for the cover of British magazines, showing a small collection of work to fashion week in Kiev in the Ukraine through special invitation. JMD will continue working with celebrity stylists and clients, and new shops in London, LA and NYC and Canada that are interested in JMD in its previous manifestation creating one of a kind custom made pieces, as well as with new lines that will be debuting shortly. For the last two years, JMD has been working on creating his clientele and business in London England and will move back to North America to continue expansion of the brand. Showings JMD at KIEV fashion week in October, as well as plans for JMD to present a first major collection in London in February at a very unique and exciting avant garde location are among some of the initial exciting projects. Long term goals include establishing a worldwide brand following, and collaborating with exciting up and coming designers from other unique brands. Previously working in London JMD had one year of set up and one year of experience as a strong stable brand that became recognised and sought after with high end fashion clientele. In this time the brand grew and become known by celebrity and stylists worldwide. JMD has now traveled to meetings in Los Angeles, NYC and Montreal to pursue further requests and contacts for work in custom making pieces and on projects and has spent significant time in NYC preparing for next years adventures.

The major objectives of JMD include moving into high end fashion through his fashion line and runway shows, working on several green lighted large impact projects and working on creating an interest in the people excited by fashion in and out of fashion weeks worldwide. JMD has been in discussions with several exclusive celebrity/fashion boutiques to carry lines and diffusion lines as well as is seeking out more to facilitate selling. JMD would like to take part in Canadian fashion week, and continue to meet industry contacts to expand lines in Canadian stores, and is also currently working on an exciting project with existing celebrity stylists and magazine contacts. JMD current is a contributing features editor for SLiNK magazine, and writes a behind the scenes look at the adventures in becoming an international designer for Runway Passport.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?
The biggest success was being invited to show last March in Kiev for Kiev Fashion Days. It was a huge transition point for the brand in that the high fashion magazines and press there were very intimate and helpful in advice suggesting that JMD move towards the presentation of the first fashion lines for Jeffrey Michael. Over this last summer realizing this first capsule collection has been an amazing learning experience and growth experiences for the brand in both the styles, shapes, and language of the brand getting ready to create pieces to show. As well it has enabled for an exciting presentation that is focused and collected in its style for the first time with pieces by JMD. This will push things forward on the international scene in a way that piece by piece could have never happened.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?
As a brand I think these moments of ‘failure’ are really learning lessons. Each one of them helps you get to a new stage of design and creativity and it takes a while to figure out what they are mean’t to teach you at the time. Being international as a designer means moving around with the flow of projects and trends and missing out on family time could be seen as a near miss. Thankfully being home during parts of the summer and at holidays really makes things feel alive and normal and as the brand grows there are more opportunity to see my family back in Canada as events bring me around where they live and work. It is such an important balance while becoming established as a brand to take time for yourself, your family and your creative time. It has been such a lesson and I’m glad to have realized the importance of that at such a young age.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME?
In the decision to move into a new market in North America and NYC it has brought me to new levels of excitement and learning. COming from creating one of a kind pieces, to going into creating fashion lines each season has been a huge transition and a huge learning curve in how to create pieces all at once instead of one at a time. I knew this would be the most important factor in the success and growth of the brand in that creating a marketable product that could exist outside of my studio was a way for both recognition, as well as continuing to be able to create in an ongoing way. All of my idols, designers, creators, who have made it to the true level of that ability to create for a living, such as Alexander McQueen, The Blondes, Mark Jacobs, etc, have all gone the route of creating both exciting fantastic creations, but also sellable repeatable products, no matter how intricate. Learning how to take the concepts I work with in the one of a kind, and unique, couture, etc, and placing those into a runway collection and then for sale has been such an interesting shift in my work. It has ended up making me a better designer, and the work I have put together for this first collection is something I’m very proud of me and my team for.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE TO ANYONE STARTING OUT?
Learn who your clients are first and foremost. Having a successful target is so important to achieve it. Are you making something for a high fashion market, or a regular consumer market. Figuring out your style and design language to suit that client is so important because having something beautiful and loveable is a main goal for the designer. It is very easy to become a creator of things only for yourself when making and creating, but asking advice and opinions along the way is humbling and useful in making a better more beautiful product. The creation process is so dynamic. Taking into consideration so many factors from art history and fashion history are important in taking a step forward. If you don’t know what the past is made of, how can you hope to hit into the future with new ideas and a fresh take in your own design language. I think research is such an important focus to a collection and push to bringing something from inside the mind outside into the physical reality. This research for me is ongoing and always, and constantly visiting exhibits, museums, and reading about other designers and projects is important to place your collection within a frame of reference. Even if that frame is opposed to what you are seeing, it has to be set up in some understanding of what is going on currently in the world.

Take the time to figure out what you want to do in the industry, what you want to say, and then be strong willed, and thick skinned as you move forward. Be strong enough to believe in your own pieces, and caring enough to make the craft of them so outstanding that no one will be able to critique the physical work you have done. Fashion is about opinions, opposed, varied and different. Let your mind be strong and keep hitting forward with a self assurance as you create your pieces, keeping pictures and images around you as you create to feel and sense intuitively where you want to go and what you want to do during each line. Use the fashion industry as a testing ground, and move towards a focused understanding of your own design language via these catwalks, presentations, and editorials that will come up during your seasons of learning. The industry is the best tool to learn and moving forward. Use suggestions and criticism to serve you and to become better as a designer.

And most importantly just keep on going. Never give up, and know who you are as a designer. You have to be the front of an entire line and brand. Be the positive outgoing person that everyone wants to be around and know about. People are buying into you, and then your garments. Make them want to have a piece of you in their closet, and you have made it.

Jeffrey Michael, the debut a first and a full first line in February of 2012. Follow this lead up on twitter via the head designer Jeffrey at @jeffrey_design, and on the website www.jeffreymichaeldesign.co.uk, or behind the scenes at www.jeffreymichaeldesign.blogpsot.com.

Dr. Karuna Sabnani, NMD – Naturopathic Doctor

NAME:  Dr. Karuna Sabnani, NMD
INDUSTRY: Image Consulting and Wellness at Illume and Naturopathic Medicine
POSITION:  Naturopathic Doctor: Beauty, Energy, Weight and Skin Specialist at Illume and
Naturopathic Doctor and Founder of Karuna Naturopathic Healthcare.
COMPANY:  KARUNA NATUROPATHIC HEALTHCARE and ILLUMÉ
LOCATION: New York

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?
WITH ILLUMÉ:  Taking everything I know about Naturopathic Medicine, Ayurveda, life and food to create weight loss and skin protocols that provide long lasting results.
WITH YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE: Learning and teaching people the principles of food and Nature so they can live with more ease and get rid of harsh regimens.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?
WITH ILLUMÉ: There are no failures, just lessons to learn from and quickly do things differently.
WITH YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE: There haven’t been any ‘big failures’.  It’s all a process and it’s important to keep changing and growing with the times.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME?
WITH ILLUMÉ: Waiting a bit to long to relocate to NYC again and to be open to business advice from all different places.
WITH YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE:  Practicing this type of medicine in a way that I see best serves others rather than giving into a traditional medical model.  Also, keeping consistency to my work through the cross country moves from California to New York City.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE TO ANYONE STARTING OUT?
WITH ILLUMÉ: You have to put yourself out there and go through trial and error before you find a fit for yourself in your field.  Take time to do some work on yourself – your health and expression before finding a niche for your own practice.  There are a lot of cookie cutter models of health and beauty out there, learn what’s out there and what makes your own work different, unique and effective.
WITH YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE: In your field of medicine and health:  The biggest advice I would give is to follow your heart and take care of yourself first. This field offers you space to be who you are. Take the time to discover who you are and create a practice that is a reflection of you.

Laura Kronen – Founder of Be You Only Better

NAME:  Laura Kronen
INDUSTRY:  Life Coaching, Image Consulting, Beauty Expert, Entrepreneur & Author
POSITION: Founder
COMPANY:  BE YOU ONLY BETTER
LOCATION:  Atlanta, GA
CAREER OR COMPANY DESCRIPTION: We provide Life Coaching Services specializing in developing self confidence and self esteem, reaching health & fitness goals, improving relationships and entrepreneurial mentoring and coaching.  We also offer image consulting and provide daily beauty and self help product recommendations.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?
My biggest successes have been taking ideas that originated in my imagination and actually bringing them to fruition.  I have done it a number of times with my products Baby Road Trip,  Belly Ups, and now, Be You Only Better.   Every day with Be You Only Better, I achieve personal success with my clients- raising their confidence levels, helping them achieve personal satisfaction and discover happiness within them that they have never experienced before.  Nothing makes me feel more successful than helping others attain their goals and dreams.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?  
I do not believe in failure. There are only degrees of success. Everything that doesn’t go exactly the way I planned or wanted it to is either a learning experience or a step on the road to where I want to be.  Thomas Edison once said – “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Think about how many times a baby falls as it’s trying to learn to walk.  Is that baby a failure because he is tumbling and crashing into things as as he learns?  No, that baby is going to learn how to walk perfectly despite the challenges he faces or the “failures” he encounters every day.  That is the way I live my life.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME?
I have had Type 1 diabetes for over 20 years.  I have learned how to become empowered by the disease rather than have it bring me down.  So much so that I was inspired to write a book- Too Sweet: The Insights and Musings of a Diabetic.   I share my experiences of living with the disease, filling a genuine need for comforting, brutally honest, and practical wisdom.  Without stepping on any medical toes, not focusing on anything technical, and definitely not dwelling on any of the bad things that are drilled into a diabetics head over time (who really wants to read about that anyway!), I tackle diabetic myths, the ups and downs of lows and highs, being labeled as having a “disease”, my fear of needles, love of all things sugary sweet, sex, pregnancy and just about everything else in between. From hearing about an elusive cure, to sharing how diabetes can make you into a more confident, motivated person, this genuine, up close look into my diabetic life will make you laugh out loud and feel as though you found a new best friend.  The book will be available before Spring 2012.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE TO ANYONE STARTING OUT?  
I have three key ‘phrases of wisdom’ that I live by and always offer to those starting out.  They are simple but no one will ever give you better advice than this:
1. Be persistent. Never give up.  Believe in your dreams.
2.  Let 1000 doors close in your face and then knock on door 1001.  Eventually someone is going to open one up for you.
3.  Don’t worry about how any one else does something, do it your way!  That just might be your competitive advantage.