This week, we have an exciting roundup of advice for female founders to highlight some of the key points from our Series W interviews. We ask them: What resources have been most helpful to you in starting up?
During my second year at HBS, I continued to work on launching SoSheDid as part of an independent project advised by Professor Robin Ely, Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community, who was tremendously helpful. In fact, her daughter Francesca was so excited about our work that she became our first intern that summer.
I also took Professor Anita Elberse’s course, Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries, where I met music manager and CEO of Atom Factory, Troy Carter, who became our first advisor and led our early white boarding sessions in his LA office.
I remember writing Troy a long email, alone in my apartment on New Year’s Eve, explaining my point of view on the media’s role in defining women’s measures of self-worth—and how it did not matter how many gender initiatives there were in the business world so long as these media messages were perpetuated. He responded simply, “We need to do a jam session over drinks to flesh this out. I love where you’re going!” It was the best start to 2014 that I could’ve imagined.
Another Professor, Tom Eisenmann, graciously connected me to Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post, who became one of our earliest supporters. I also used the principles of his “Launching Technology Ventures” course to come up with our Queen Chess Piece logo and the whole logo process was documented in one of my final projects for his class.
Had it not been for the introspective time and space business school provided me, the meaningful connections I made within its community, and the incredible support of Harvard professors and advisors alike, I would have never started SoSheDid—one of the most meaningful investments I will ever make my in my life.
In the beginning, we did a ton of reading – we would find as much information about fashion, lingerie, how to make bras, how to start a business, what does it mean to be an entrepreneur, etc. As we became more educated, we started reaching out to our network. Our most helpful resources have been the individuals who have generously donated their time advising us and pointing us in the right direction. We’ve been fortunate to have developed relationships with people who have been in the lingerie industry for decades, and they have truly opened doors for us that would otherwise have been impossible.
- Working as first employee of FundersClub was an amazing chance to learn about starting a company. If someone is thinking about starting something and feels they have a lot to learn, working as an early employee at a startup with great founders is a great way to learn.
- My friends who are founders that are able to give my co-founder and I great advice and emotional support.
- First Round Capital, who is our lead investor has been an amazing resource. A number of other investors have been helpful as well.
- Books about founders and startups – a few good ones are Founders At Work, The Lean Startup, The Everything Store, Paypal Wars, Elon Musk biography, The Hard Thing About Hard Things.
- Startup blogs and newsletters – I’d recommend Paul Graham’s essays and Mattermark.
Entrepreneurship can be a really lonely journey, so I’ve really appreciated the support I’ve received from my network of professional and personal contacts. Whether it’s helping to spread the word about STYLECABLE, making a connection, or questioning the business model, the people around have pushed me to where I am today.
I also joined groups such as the 1776 tech coworking space in DC, which opened up my network and tremendous opportunities. I am also a member of HerCorner, a community of female entrepreneurs which has been a fantastic professional development and support network. I would highly recommend that entrepreneurs join mastermind groups, co-working spaces, and professional organizations to learn from others and expand your resources.
Post FIELD 3, we’re doing an IP with our TEM professor and we were also accepted in the Rock Accelerator, both have been really useful. The most important thing for us though was to keep the momentum over the summer. We all had internships, but worked in our free time on BeachSpoke, and that put us in a great position at the start of the semester.