10 Quick Lessons in Entrepreneurship From a Designer Turned Founder
Women 2.0’s New York Founder Friday speaker counts down the top ten lessons she’s learned as an entrepreneur in true Rank & Style fashion.
By Pooja Badlani (Co-founder, Rank & Style)
While the idea of starting my own business sounded like a daunting and distant idea to me a few years ago, I always knew I wanted to have a job I felt passionate about and in which I could use my creative talents to solve a problem.
After completing my undergraduate degree, I went to graduate school to study communications and digital design. It was there that I realized how much I loved interactive design. Growing up, I was always the type of person who enjoyed fixing things; if the TV or computer at home was broken, it was up to me to get it to work again (and still is!). I spent my college summers learning html and design software. In graduate school, my love for problem solving blended together with my passion for the arts, and a career in web design felt like the natural next step.
After school, I landed a job at Sundance Channel where, eventually, I joined the digital team to build websites for the company. I left there in 2010 to teach at Pratt while also trying my hand at freelancing, which was my first foray into entrepreneurship. I quickly realized that I loved teaching but wasn’t professionally satisfied with freelancing. It was around this time that my friend (and now business partner), Sarika, approached me about building a business together.
When she described the idea for Rank & Style, I was immediately interested and it got my creative wheels turning! The concept was conceived during Hurricane Irene, when my soon-to-be business partners (Sarika and Sonal) and I were all “trapped” together in Sarika’s apartment in the West Village seeking shelter from the storm.
We started brainstorming the idea and the fact that there was no tool out there that simplified the shopping experience for women in a methodical, objective and researched-based way was really interesting to me and presented a compelling business opportunity. Our vision was to build the first consumer-facing platform to harness the power of data in the fashion and beauty space and to fill a void in a growing market. We envisioned presenting this data in a concise easily digestible list format.
My two co-founders, our lead developer and I built a prototype, tested it with a focus group and launched a fully functional product in April 2013. We also raised a round of funding through our network of angel investors, friends and family, which has been really helpful in enabling us to increase our marketing and user acquisition efforts and grow our team.
While it’s taken me a few twists and turns to get here, I’m now officially addicted to being an entrepreneur! There is nothing more satisfying than waking up every morning and building something that’s yours. Our success during our early months after launch and the dedication of my team are what pushed me to leave my job to officially work on Rank & Style full-time.
The ride has been exciting, challenging, stressful and exhilarating. We’ve managed to take it all in stride and deal with whatever comes our way, all thanks to our incredible team, advisors and the supportive friends and family we rely on each day.
And now, in true Rank & Style fashion, a top ten list of the most important advice and lessons I’ve learned throughout my journey:
10. Follow your gut. If something feels right or wrong, it probably is.
9. Celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes.
8. If something doesn’t go your way, it’s ok. Learn, move on and bounce back quickly!
7. Be nice! What goes around comes around, always.
6. Don’t be intimidated.
5. Following up on emails and phone calls is key.
4. Surround yourself with people who support you and believe in your idea.
3. Realize that success doesn’t happen overnight.
2. Don’t be afraid to try/learn new things. It’s ok to feel uncomfortable.
1. Take deep breaths. It works.
What would you include on your top ten list of lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
About the guest blogger: As a founding member, Pooja brings eight years of design and technology experience to Rank & Style. Most recently, she worked as an art director at Time. Inc. Previously, as a senior designer at Sundance Channel, she was responsible for redesigning the network’s homepage as well as helping with the relaunch of an affiliated brand, Full Frontal Fashion.