• CEO Sarah Leary, Nextdoor: When to Pivot Posted by Admin

    Sarah Leary

    Do you miss the days when people could go to their next door neighbor to borrow a cup of flour? Maybe you miss the community gatherings from time to time. Well, you have to try Nextdoor. It’s a private social network that allows you to connect with your neighbors. Co-founded by Sarah Leary, the app has connected people in over 139,000 neighborhoods across the country. Nextdoor came as a result of a previous failed app. A decision to make a pivot has lead Leary and her team to success. MillionaireMatch got the scoop, and how going in a different direction was the best decision.

    Leary had the idea of creating Fanbase, the largest online almanac for college and pro sports fans in 2008. It seemed promising as they obtained 15 million unique visitors in just a few months. Leary and her team worked on the platform for two years, but after just six months they realized they would need to make a pivot. “Pivoting sounds great. The actual pivoting sucks,” said Leary about making the decision. Her and the team even offered to just give the money back to the https://www.millionairematch.com/articles/2680/1/francois-henry-bennahmias-ceo-of-audemars-piguet-luxury-is-true-emotions-it-s-not-something-you-need, fortunately they didn’t take it.

    “We built something that was nice to have, but it wasn’t a must have,” Leary admitted. This was one of a few mistakes made. “We wanted to create something that was a painkiller, not a vitamin,” she said. Before creating Nextdoor, Leary made sure that it was a need not just a want. They did a survey to ask people if they wanted to know more about what was going on in their neighborhood, and seventy-eight percent said yes. They dug deeper and asked about their interest level in having a network to communicate with neighbors. All information was verified that it was something that was truly needed in communities.

    But that wasn’t enough. Leary took it another step, and set up coffee meetings to connect with communities. She even did a test run with a neighborhood in Menlo Park to get feedback. They took one full year to test Nextdoor in twenty-six states. This helped answer one question that Leary was left with, “Will neighbors actually have something to talk about?” They most certainly did.

    In 2011, they officially launched Nextdoor. Leary chose an interesting marketing plan. She leaned on city officials and police departments to get the word out. Leary even reached out to the local press in these neighborhoods that the app served. “It made sense for Nextdoor,” she explained. On just the local level, over three thousand stories are generated about Nextdoor yearly.

    As a former associate at one of the largest VC firms and with a failed product, Leary had some advice for younger entrepreneurs. “Make sure it’s a big market you are going after, and know how you are going to win,” she continued. If you are looking for a investor, make sure your team is tight. While at Greylock Partners, she noticed that it was more about the people when they came in to pitch. They noticed the dynamic of the management team. “An investor will sometime bet on a team and an idea. The idea can end up changing, but they are still invested in the team,” Leary said. “They need to feel like this team is going to be able to manage the ups and downs, twists and turns if it doesn’t work out,” she added.

    Nextdoor has launched in other countries such as the Netherlands, and it continues to grow. Leary is proud to have created a product that reminds her of how she grew up. “We’ve become a real lifeline in neighborhoods,” said Leary.

    If you want to connect with your community, go to www.nextdoor.com and tell your neighbors to join too!

  • CEO Anne Wojcicki, 23andme: Fighting for Our Health Posted by Admin

    CEO Anne Wojcicki

    Healthcare is one of the most talked about topics in the U.S. What if you could know if you carry the gene for a disease? Well, the startup 23andme is empowering people to take control of their health by gaining in-depth knowledge about their health history. The company launched in 2006 giving people access to understanding the human genome. A home-based kit that collects your saliva could help you possibly prevent a hereditary disease. This is making a huge impact on the healthcare industry, and MillionaireMatch knows why. Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andme, shares her passion for giving people the tools to fight for a healthier life.

    Wojcicki, who use to work on Wall Street, was raised by a strong mother who lives by the premise of apologize later over asking for permission first. She was raised by a woman who can’t be intimidated, and that has pushed Wojcicki to question the healthcare industry. Her mother passed down this passion for taking her health into her own hands, after losing her brother at a young age. Wojcicki’s uncle died at only 18 months when he swallowed a bottle of aspirin. He was taken from doctor to doctor to only get his stomach pumped and sent home. But something was still not right. After a night of crying, Wojcicki’s grandparents finally found a hospital willing to take him. Unfortunately, it was too late. He didn’t live to come back home.

    “My hope is that having genetic information will lead to them preventing early death, or be more proactive about their health,” she said about creating the 23andme kits. Today, they have over 1 million people who have used the kits to take a deeper look at their family history. Wojcicki believes people are can be very passive about their health care. Often having major procedures without knowing all the details, from understanding why they need the procedure, to what side effects they’ll possibly have to live with. “Most healthcare companies have a responsibility to maximize the bottom line,” she said. Their job isn’t to prevent you from being sick, but more to manage and heal. That leaves 23andme to be not so popular for the business of health care.

    “If consumers were more empowered, I think they would take more responsibility for their health.” She believes people genuinely want to change their behavior. Genetics can’t prevent everything, but it does put people in the driver seat. If you could know that you do carry the gene for a preventable disease, having the knowledge may encourage you to change to a healthier lifestyle. “Genetic information is critical to your health. Health is the decision you make every single day,” she said. That would include getting the help of doctors to help you take the next steps once you understand your health history better.

    It hasn’t been a completely smooth ride for Wojcicki and her team. The FDA issued a cease and desist to claims that 23andme was under Medicare. “Being shut down in a nasty way was definitely not the high point of the company. It was a transformative moment. I saw it as a sign of success,” Wojcicki said. “If I didn’t love what I did, I would have shut down,” she continued.

    Wojcicki offered a bit of advice to entrepreneurs. “I would always recommend partnerships,” she suggested. Her and her co-founder, Linda Avey worked almost 24/7 for years to get 23andme off the ground. When they only had five people on the team, they took turns sleeping. She also said, “When you really believe in what you are doing, it sells.”

    If you want to get your kit, just visit 23andme.com. “We believe it’s really about choice. If you want to get access to something that is fundamentally yours, we believe it’s your right to get access to it,” said Wojcicki. We believe so too!

  • CEO Spotlight: Liz Dickinson of Mio Global Posted by Admin

    Liz Dickinson

    There was a time that only chest wearing heart rate monitors were available. They were uncomfortable, and would cut the skin. The chest straps would also need to be cleaned often. Today, there are several wearable monitors. Mio Global was founded in 1999 by Liz Dickinson. The Canadian company is the first to introduce a wearable monitor that continuously keeps track of the heart rate. The company recently received an investment of nearly $15 million dollars from Hydra Ventures. Dickinson has had quite a journey disrupting the industry. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on her journey to the top, and her advice to those on their climb up.

    “A step is not equivalent. One person’s step is not the same as somebody else’s,” Dickinson said on creating the most accurate device. Dickinson realized a key point that other companies overlooked. “Without intensity you really aren’t getting any data. The Mio actually takes intensity into consideration. It doesn’t matter what you do. You could be walking a dog or playing with your grandkids. Whatever activity you choose, as long as you get your heart rate up to a certain level that’s the key,” she explained.

    Creating Mio Global was also a personal need for Dickinson. “Heart rate is the best way to train. I was super busy working a corporate job, and I had 45 minutes to work out. I wanted to make sure I was burning as many calories as possible, and doing exercises that were the most efficient,” she said. Dickinson now boasts having five patents in the sports and performance industry.

    Dickinson offered advice for entrepreneurs creating hardware. Two things to think about are intellectual property and finding a manufacturer. She was sued for intellectual property infringement. As a result, the company paid out $500k to defend their product. Dickinson suggests buying intellectual property insurance. “Before your launch something, have your lawyer look at it,” she said.

    In addition to getting a lawyer to protect your ideas, find a great manufacturer. “If you can’t get the attention of a decent manufacturer, then you tend to work with a third tier or second tier. When we first started, we had to go with the manufacturer that would take us. I couldn’t understand then why products were late or why we would get the runaround when asking questions. I finally got on a plane to go to the manufacturer, and found out that they made toys. They had never made anything like our devices,” explained Dickinson. Finding a manufacturer to handle production of your products shouldn’t be terribly difficult.

    If you are launching your first hardware product, don’t be shy of going the crowdfunding route. Dickinson started with Kickstarter, and raised money that way. Why wouldn’t you just go for the big money and get an investor? “I’ve yet to meet a venture capitalist that likes to invest in hardware,” Dickinson said. “Margins are too small. Competition is too stiff, and it comes in too quickly for hardware,” she explained. So, if you do go that route there’s a secret to being successful. “Public relations is the secret to doing Kickstarter,” suggested Dickinson.

    If you are looking for cool wearable products to keep you and your heart on track for the summer, check out www.mioglobal.com.

  • CEO of AngelList, Naval Ravikant: What Makes a Great Investor? Posted by Admin

    Naval Ravikant

    Anyone can be an investor, today. In 2010, Naval Ravikant launched AngelList, a website for those looking to work at, invest in, or raise money for a startup. This was the startup one-stop shop. One hundred startup profiles are created everyday. Ravikant has invested in over ninety startups, including Product Hunt, Tilt, Teachable, Poshmark and Vurb. As CEO and Founder of AngelList, Ravikant knows what it takes to be a successful investor.

    With so many new companies sprouting up, we wonder how does he decide on which startups to invest in. “You can’t help all the startups. Most are not ready to be funded. Most don’t need to be funded. They all want to meet with you. They all want personal advice,” Ravikant said. “I like saying no. It makes me feel better,” he continued. Time is valuable, and the calls and requests for meetings can be overwhelming. Ravikant explains that saying no leaves more time for things he needs to concentrate on most, and he doesn’t feel guilty about that. “I try to do everything by email first,” he said.

    Many entrepreneurs believe in networking to find their investors. Relationships are believed to be key in finding funding. But Ravikant believes differently. “Don’t spend your time doing meetings unless you really have to,” he said. He believes networking is just entertainment. His advice is, “better to go do something great.” As an entrepreneur, it’s the product or service that you are creating that’s most important. Ravikant thinks entrepreneurs too many times fall into the trap of finding investors. “Money for a lot of people, ends up being a scorecard,” he said. “That’s why people look up to people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. They managed to create something new and spread it throughout the world and get paid for it. It’s a very hard thing to do,” he continued.

    He also had some advice for investors. “As an investor you have to go slow and filter out all the noise,” he offered. With so many startups forming everyday, this is essential. He did say that you most likely will lose money, so be okay with that. “As an investor, anything that is consumer facing you want to see some traction, otherwise it is too hard to predict what people are going to use,” he added.

    Another quality Ravikant looks for in a leader of a startup is longevity. “Long term mentality is an indicator of long term success.” he said. He wants to know they are in it for the long haul, and not want to sell the company when it gets tough.

    Some may argue this point, but Ravikant believes that AngelList is one of a kind. He doesn’t think he has competitors. “I don’t care if there’s competition or not,” he said. His goal is to make the market more efficient, and there just isn’t anyone out there doing that. In his opinion, the real competition is processes that are offline.

    If you are looking for your next investor, go visit www.angel.co.

  • CEO Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway: Sell an Experience Posted by Admin

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    It’s every girl’s dream to have a Cinderella moment, and Rent the Runway makes it possible. Founded in 2009, RTR has five million members who rent clothing for everyday wear and special occasions. The company was founded by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, two entrepreneurs who had no previous fashion or technology experience. The idea for RTR came when Hyman’s sister went into credit debt after purchasing a Marchesa dress. The two have raised $174.4 million in five rounds of funding. RTR has disrupted the fashion business based on ‘access is the new ownership’, which is a statement found on the company’s website. We wanted to know more about creating a booming business that has it’s own runway in the fashion world. MillionaireMatch got the scoop.

    “The mission of the company is to deliver a Cinderella experience to women,” Hyman said. Women can spend hundreds of dollars for a formal gown that will most likely be worn once. With RTR, you don’t have to commit to spending a large amount to look like a million bucks. “No one comes to us, because you can rent for 90% off. They come to us because they feel better about themselves when they’ve rented the runway. They want to repeat the behavior,” explained Hyman. That feeling is what RTR has been able to capitalize on.

    “Why do we care about experiences instead of owning the actual thing? It’s partly because of social media. We are all in the personal branding business,” Hyman said. “You are creating this mock version of you, this idealized version of you that’s your brand,” she continued. Creating an experience whether posting your latest exotic trip or attending a high profile event wearing a bandage Hermés dress is where RTR comes in and does half the job for you-making you look fabulous doing fabulous things.

    Over the years, RTR has updated their rental model. You now have three options: 1) rent by the item 2) unlimited renting and 3) flat-rate rentals. Hyman puts customer experience high on the priority list. A department was created specifically for this which she calls Company Insights. To stay connected to their community, each new employee must spend a day taking customer service calls. Around the busiest times, which are the holidays, everyone jumps in to help. “If there is ever a problem, we are going to be all hands on deck. I spend one day a month on Customer Insights,” she said. “Whenever someone has a negative experience, it’s usually around an event that is important to them. You aren’t renting because it’s Tuesday, and you are going to work. It’s either you have a date, party or something that is meaningful to you. When we mess up, it’s all over social media,” Hyman added. She does say that making mistakes that could end up splashed on social media isn’t the end of the world. “Even negative situations, if dealt with authentically can turn into positive opportunities to create loyalty for our brand,” she said.

    Loyalty is definitely a word to describe the members of RTR. “One in every four of our customers have uploaded a photo. So, we have hundreds of thousands of photos on our site of young women celebrating their lives of renting the runway,” she said. The members are not asked or paid to upload a photo. They do it simply because they love the service. “Everything should feel memorable. That’s what’s going to drive loyalty,” Hyman said about renting key items that are unforgettable.

    Hyman noted a few tips on her success as an entrepreneur, which she says is a team effort. “Asking for feedback all the time, being humble and willing to change,” she said allows her to keep up with a growing team and lead effectively.

    The company has come a long way from working in a dry cleaners and using only an excel sheet to keep up with orders. They’ve gone from being exclusively online to now having stores in five major cities. But we think as long as women and social media are around, this company will continue to grow. “We are in the business of making women feel amazing about themselves,” said Hyman.

    If you want to spruce up your wardrobe, visit their site at www.renttherunway.com.