Why I started a company (and why more women should too)
n April of 2018 I quit my job to start a wedding tech company called Honeydew, with my friend Lucy. Before that, I had been fantasizing for years that I wanted to start my own company, even without a specific idea in mind. Here’s why:
Solving an underserved pain point is motivational and profitable
It’s easiest to identify pain points that you yourself experience. With most new companies being founded by men, this means many women-specific pain points go undeserved. Knowing this gave me and Lucy the extra oomph to start Honeydew — we were afraid we’d be stuck spending hundreds of hours planning our weddings, instead of getting promotions at our jobs. We weren’t going to wait for a man to build the solution.
It’s not just a matter of equity. It’s money left on the table. In the US, the…
- Beauty industry is $445 billion
- Pregnancy products market is estimated to be worth US $439.2 million by 2023
- Wedding industry is $70 billion
- Infertility services are projected to hit $4 billion
For much of our lives, it was insinuated that women were being picky, whiny, bitchy, and bridezillas by complaining about things like bad makeup brands, painful periods, horrible wedding planning experiences. Screw that! These are actual, problematic experiences that take hours out of our day, and sometimes even make us bedridden. Aren’t you tired of waiting around for Elon Musk to solve your period for you?
I wanted to decide my own hiring practices
When I was in college, I’d read about CEOs confidently stating that they didn’t hire for diversity because they hired for merit . Me, fresh from my mandatory social justice college course, thought to myself: merit?? How do you measure merit when you begin counting the extra $1000 SAT classes, after school tutors, internships at dad’s colleague’s office, and parental-paid volunteer trips to Ethiopia?
I saw hiring practices that blatantly disagreed with my own experiences, and simply put, it made me want to start my own company to create my own hiring standards.
Yes, I realize now that starting a company requires finding product market fit and figuring out your distribution channels before you can explode in hiring — but the future of building my team excites me. Doesn’t it excite you?
Building hiring policies from the ground up involves designing your sourcing pipeline, deciding that job descriptions can go without Hacker ninja badass, determining that monetary allowances are needed for people who have to take off work to interview for your company, and are forgoing salary to do so, ETC. When you build a company, you build not only a product, but also a community of employees whose lives you can impact.
I was excited to prove the mansplainers wrong
Tl;dr : Mansplaining is a real thing. And it’s so lovely to be in a position to shut it down.
For Honeydew, we’ve talked to hundreds of couples about their weddings, done thorough competitive analysis, served countless couples. Yet, we often go into conversations with investors or advisors and hear “well have you heard of TheKnot? Zola?” or “You need to think about how obsessed women are with their weddings. Will they really let a service help with decisions?”
It’s weird that people assume we haven’t done our homework…and that we don’t work on weddings full time.
In the beginning, we’d be polite — thank these men for their fair points and thoughtful advice, even ask them for more in the hopes they’d believe in us. Eventually, the mansplaining became a nuisance and we stopped supporting their illusions that they knew about the pain point better than us.
Lastly, I wanted to be part of the numbers game
Today there are a few female tech founders who’ve hit mainstream success. They’re celebrated like anomalies. When I read about Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble, I felt like a little girl — a little jealous, but also totally wanted a poster of her with her autograph, but also totally scared to talk to her.
I won’t speak for all women, but personally, I feel both pride and jealousy for every successful woman I see. I think this may be because women got just 2% of VC funding in 2017, and my mind draws the conclusion that there’s only 2% of us who can “make it to the top”. Of course, this is dumb and irrational of me. It’s a numbers game . The more of us there are, the more we lift each other up, the higher that percentage climbs.
I wanted to be part of the movement that was making it normal to be a woman and a founder. I also wanted my successes to drive that 2% number up.
This guest post was authored by Michelle Lu
Being a female founder gives you thoughts on it. Michelle is a former product manager at Amazon, and now co-founder of Honeydew (www.gethoneydew.io), the personal assistant for your wedding. She enjoys playing jazz piano, reading her Kindle, and chatting with family and friends.