• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

Inside Look at Women 2.0 Founder Hangouts: Hiring & Company ‘DNA’

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A new series where guest bloggers spill some advice they learned during Founder Hangouts. This week, StyleUp co-founder, Kendall Herbst, shares her new knowledge on hiring and creating your company’s “DNA”

By Kendall Herbst (Co-founder, StyleUp)

When it comes to successfully building a startup, I’ll take all the support and advice I can get, especially from people who have been in my shoes.

This is precisely why I joined Women 2.0 Founder Hangouts. I have access to accomplished entrepreneurs and get to interact with a community of fellow early-stage founders. It’s an extra bonus that this program is focused on women, since my startup, StyleUp, is a service that helps women choose their outfit everyday, (if you’ve got a closet full of clothes but feel like you have nothing to wear, this is the tool for you). Thus, Founder Hangouts has been a terrific opportunity for me to talk to lots of women, who can give me insight on and find direct value from my product, as opposed to the majority of the startup founders, who tend to be men in t-shirts, (no offense gentlemen).

Hiring

In just a few weeks in, I’ve spoken to some awesome women. First up was Evite.com co-founder Selina Tobaccowala. I took away two major points from her, one regarding day-to-day flow and another regarding hiring new team members. Tabaccowala recommended a daily morning stand-up meeting where people can run through what they’ve accomplished, and what they’re tackling today. It also allows for team members to be clear about any roadblocks they are facing.

In terms of hiring, she reminded us that each new hire is going to take a lot of time to get caught up to speed, but also, even when you think you’ve found the right person, the battle is far from over. Get rid of anyone who is not fitting the team, quickly. It’s palpable when it’s just not the right fit, for any number of reasons — culture, work ethic, attitude, skills. Don’t try to force a fit to happen. One bad apple can ruin the overall morale, especially in small startup teams.

Company ‘DNA’

We also spoke with Elaine Wherry of Meebo.com. She taught us an interesting way of thinking about your company “DNA”, explaining that you should be able to capture it in three words. Those words should encompass the who, what and how of your company. It’s tougher than you may think! For StyleUp, I’ve been playing around with ideas like go-to, empowering and expert.

I’ve been impressed by the other women in the group as well. Scattered around the globe — SF, NYC, Denver, Toronto and even Buenos Aires- we’re tackling beauty, children’s books, medical diagnosis, education, and more. But as different as all those worlds seem, we have a lot in common; every day we each get up and take a step forward toward building a company. None of us have all the answers, but just being able to get a different perspective when asking questions like, ‘How did you find your engineers?’ or “How has your fundraising experience been?’ from other women, has been beneficial. In fact, we even featured a fellow Women 2.0 founder on the StyleUp blog. I’m hoping these relationships will strengthen and continue on long after the program ends.

I have no doubt that StyleUp will be improved because of my Founder Hangouts experience. This group has offered an open platform to ask smart women about anything you may need to know. As the hangout name would suggest, it is casual and stress-free. It’s just a couple of hours once a week, dedicated to learning and discussing how to become better at what you do. What’s better than that?

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About the guest blogger: Kendall Herbst is a former fashion editor for Lucky, InStyle and New York Magazine. More recently, she worked at Stylitics, a startup tackling big data in the fashion industry. She graduated from MIT Sloan in 2013.