As a mom, I have loved getting the Skinny Scoop newsletters and reading their website. It is a super cool online survey tool for Moms to see what other moms are doing and thinking. Because let’s face it, none of us really know what we are doing and I believe in wisdom in numbers.
Then I learned about one of the founders of the company (Stanford MBA graduate and Mom) and how she left her corporate job in a very prominent role and took the leap with a classmate to start their own company.
This is her story:
Tell me about what you do for work.
I am the CEO and Founder of SkinnyScoop, a Bay Area start-up that helps women make and influence $2 trillion worth of decisions. SkinnyScoop is the resource for women to find, share and compare the information we need to make parenting, product and more personal decisions. We harness the collective wisdom of women and provide a quick meaningful snapshot of our choices. For example, 71% of SkinnyScoop women have kept love letters from an ex while 45% cook dinner at least 5 nights per week.
In my role as CEO/Founder, I do everything from defining the strategy and fundraising capital to writing the checks and making sure we have enough printer paper. We are 4 people strong so everyone wears multiple hats and no job is too small. There is rarely a moment when I am not thinking about SkinnyScoop – I wake up with it, I work 7 days per week, I go to bed thinking about it, I even have vivid dreams about it. I think my husband is starting to get jealous.
What type of work were you doing prior to what you are doing now?
Prior to starting SkinnyScoop, I was with Comcast for 6 years where I ran a 150-person sales, marketing and customer service team. Before that, I ran product marketing and development at Covad Communications. Earlier in my career I worked in NYC for Morgan Stanley’s Mergers & Acquisitions group.
In a nutshell, most of my career has been spent at medium-to-large companies running big teams and managing very big budgets. However I have always been a risk-taker and found ways to be entrepreneurial in those roles. Friends and colleagues would say I embody the “work hard, play hard” motto. I have always been very driven and ambitious in my career but I have many outside interests that I am passionate about including sports (I have run the NYC Marathon and done the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon), travel (I have been to 40+ countries including lengthy visits to places like Syria, Jordan, Bolivia, Panama, Thailand and Vietnam) and playing cards (I won Comcast’s first poker tournament as the only woman against 50 men)!
I should of course mention my “other” work – that of being the married mother of two young children. I am originally from Toronto, Canada but now reside in San Francisco. I moved to the Bay Area to get my MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business but it is my husband (a Bay Area native) who kept me out here. My role as a mother was one of the key drivers to starting SkinnyScoop.
What kinds of frustrations did you have with your previous job?
I gained very valuable experience in my 15+ years with my previous employers, however I always knew that I was not destined to spend my career working for a Fortune 500 company. I like to move quickly and am someone very comfortable making decisions with 51% of the necessary information. I don’t have a stomach for politics and will always favor the best idea over the “let’s please everyone” answer. I want to see the results of what I am doing, be that customer feedback, revenue growth or other tangible metrics. These were all things that were not consistent with my previous work environments.
How did you come to discover this was what you were meant to do?
I honestly always knew I would start my own company or be an early employee at a start-up. Since an early age I have been told that I make a better chief than Indian! It was just a matter of finding the right opportunity.
SkinnyScoop was born out of my friendship with fellow mom (and Stanford classmate) Erin Crocker. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had hundreds of questions. Looking online I found all sorts of editorials on the subject but they often felt very PC (and funnily enough were often written or edited by men). At the same time, my friend Erin had been busy “polling” all her friends as well as friends of friends on all sorts of baby/woman-related topics from product recommendations to childcare options to work-life balance. She put these “surveys” into spreadsheets or other documents that would circulate far and wide. I latched onto these documents and made many decisions based on her culled research.
One evening over a glass of wine, Erin and I discussed the idea of starting a company. Erin (the go-to woman) wanted to see that her content was valued; she wanted some recognition for being a maven. I (the get-from side of the equation) wanted a simple, private way to survey my friends or other women so I could make quick decisions and get a sanity check. SkinnyScoop was born.
What fears did you have to overcome to take the leap?
I am a risk-taker but (like most people) I hate to fail. I know the majority of start-ups don’t last more than a couple of years. I have heard from all the naysayers about why this won’t work or why that is not a good model. You have to put those things behind you and have confidence in your vision and ability to execute. It can be very lonely starting a company and you will have down days, but I have been able to stay focused and optimistic with my conviction to SkinnyScoop along with the support of my family and colleagues.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that we have created something – SkinnyScoop – that I can see and touch and feel (well…sort of…it is a website afterall.) I can go to Skinny Scoop and watch as women asking and responding to questions, see that we are growing and developing and know that we are serving an unmet need. We have a small but mighty team who all sit in one office so I can ask our developer to make a simple change and we can see immediate results. We really do believe we are changing the way women make and influence purchases and other decisions, and that is exciting.
If you were to give advice to people thinking about changing careers, what would it be?
1) Don’t over-think things. You really don’t need the ultimate business plan before launching a company or a 10-year gameplan before changing careers.
2) Don’t feel that you need to do it alone. If starting a company, you may want to consider finding a co-founder (even if they are not a partner, such is my case) that has complementary strengths. If changing careers, reach out to your extended network to find others who have already taken similar paths.
3) Ensure your family/partner is onboard. Change is stressful and will affect your spouse, kids, etc as much as it affects you. Be honest with each other about whether it’s the right time, not only financially but with life stages.
4) Just do it (after assessing the risks)! You will never know unless you try. No amount of analysis or feedback will confirm that you have a good idea or are making the right decision.