June 4, 2010
In this episode, I'm chatting with Melody McCloskey, founder of StyleSeat, a San Francisco based company that provides online tools for beauty, health, and wellness professionals to build and grow their businesses. I met Melody the first night of the Big Omaha conference at the opening party. We had a great, somewhat intense debate about startups, where you should go to start one, and the differences in what Chicago and San Francisco has to offer startups. If you can’t see the video, please click here.
I'm Melody McCloskey and I started a company called StyleSeat. We want to empower beauty, health, and wellness professionals like estheticians, massage therapists, and personal trainers to really build their business.
It was a vertical that interested me because I love those types of people. Everyone has a hair stylist and many women have an esthetician. I love them as a customer base and working with them. They're creatives, expressive, fun, really good at what they do – they're artists.
And that was really appealing for me, more appealing than building financial software for example. Working with people that I respect and I'm excited about, who are entrepreneurs building their business, is really fantastic and something I really wanted to do.
Having your own company is very, very exciting. Passion definitely drives everything I do. My co-founder is also very, very passionate – we're both super insane people that just work all the time and are really excited about it. I'm just one of many crazy people in this industry.
There are many, many crazy people.
Yeah, seriously, nerds! We're all nerds. Really excited nerds!
The best kind. What drives that sort of dedication?
What makes me crazy? I dunno, how do you answer that? I've never really been a very engaged person my whole life. In school, I always tested very well but didn't really care enough about curriculum or studying within the confines. I was always reading all these other books that weren't the books I was supposed to be reading. I was very disengaged, a little bit bored, just not very inspired. I hadn't found that thing.
It took me a while to find something I was really good at, because I just was really bored with everything. And it's my fault for not engaging, for not finding that. But when I did find that, it was like YES! Software! I get it, I love it, I love the building process. All of a sudden a light bulb turned on.
I suddenly became this really happy person, really positive person, really excited, motivating our team all the time, talking about what we're doing to everyone, getting really excited about customers, hanging out with them all the time, getting them excited about what we're working on. It was like finding that one thing I loved pulled it out of me. It was finding that fit that did it.
Finding that one thing you're really really passionate about changes everything. I was mediocore at a lot of jobs until I started my own company and I don't think I'm terrible at it. I fail all the time, as do we all. And there's so much room for improvement. I'm so at the beginning.
But it's definitely something I'm better at then any other thing. That is exciting and empowering.
When you think about starting a company, it's a totally impossible thing to think about. I was that person where I had the idea and I knew what I wanted to build and I knew the business potential and I did all the research. But I hadn't taken that initial first step. If you think, well I'm going to start a company, that's just insane.
But when you say, ok, I'm going to incorporate. That's easy, that takes a week. You find a lawyer, write a check, and you're incorporated. Then it was like, ok, I'm going to get a designer. I focused all my time and energy on getting a designer and I got one. Then it was like, ok, I need an engineer. So I focused all my time and energy on getting an engineer.
For me, the way the process came together was that I thought about the whole process as one go and I knew the steps I needed to take and focused on each step specifically. Then it wasn't hard.
A company is organic, it's a living thing. You have an idea and it's this little seed of something. Then it's kind of this bug and you remember and think about it again and again. You're going to sleep and you're planning this idea a little more and hashing it around. You're throwing it around, showing it to friends, building upon it, and the idea gets bigger and bigger.
Sometimes that turns into something, sometimes it doesn't. Great ideas aren't a dime a dozen but they're not uncommon. Many people have hundreds or thousands of great ideas that could all be great companies. It's really about the execution. When you find something that you realize, I could actually spend five years or ten years of my life doing this, that's when it's different.
The music featured during the intro and credits of this episode is a song called “Pi Is Exactly Three” from local Chicago band Coltrane Motion.
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