It’s Female Founder Friday, and it is a treat to introduce you to Melinda Wittstock. Melinda is the brilliant woman entrepreneur behind Verifeed. Her company is a unique platform that helps you authentically engage the right prospects and influencers – at exactly the right time with the right message – to drive significant financial returns. I personally cannot wait to use Verifeed!
Melinda is one of those people who seems normal until she answers a question, and all of a sudden you realize that she has the BEST stories… and has had an incredibly full life before launching her startups (yes she’s a serial entrepreneur!) She was a news anchor, lived overseas, goes to adult summer camp with other entrepreneurs, and was at South by South West when Twitter launched. Melinda is smart, funny, and incredibly kind. We were in a MindShare cohort together and she won the “Coolest Technology Award,” out of a room full of the top CEOs in DC.
So, if you’re entrepreneur-curious or have an interest in social and digital platform marketing, don’t miss Melinda’s answers to my questions below!
What inspired you to create your company?
Ever felt frustrated trying to tie all those social media posts, likes, shares back to your bottom line? I founded Verifeed because I saw a better way for companies and causes to connect genuinely with their “believer” customers and put a viral multiplier on their growth. I wanted to give them 10X the impact at 1/10th the cost in 1/10th the time with a cutting edge solution that put them miles ahead of their competitors.
Honestly, I think online marketing is failing a lot of companies: It takes many months and tens of thousands of dollars to get your ads and funnels reaching the right people, and even then you don’t know your tribe and the influential “referrer” customers in it.
Verifeed’s predictive “social intelligence” discovers and predicts consumer behavior from millions of social conversations. We score your Return on Authenticity™, predict your influence, and find your customers, in particular those influencers you can leverage for massive viral growth multipliers in traffic, conversions, revenue and brand recognition.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
It took me too long to understand I had to chart my own unique path to innovate, grow and scale a technology business. Even now female founders only get 2% of VC investment, and the toughest challenge I’ve faced is trying to bootstrap Verifeed on “fumes”. It held back our growth, but also made us better: Instead of coding our own hypotheses, we’ve had to build our business on what paying customers truly value.
Verifeed is my third business and I am a true serial entrepreneur. I have more ideas than I can possibly execute! What I’m most excited about though is my book on female entrepreneurship. I focus on the inner “right stuff” women need to succeed on their own terms – how to redefine archetypically masculine concepts like “strength”, “power” and “focus” on our own terms, build on our intuitive and collaborative strengths, and shed all the limiting unconscious beliefs that stand in our way in business and in life. I think we’re the future and my goal is to write the book I wish I’d had at my fingertips when I started out as an entrepreneur all those years ago.
Please share your best advice for aspiring female founders.
Believe in yourself. Don’t think you have to do everything – or do everything perfectly! Often women don’t speak up until we think we have all the answers, and we tend to try and do everything ourselves. Give the “busy work” to others. Know your strengths and hire your weaknesses. Trust your intuition and don’t let anyone tell you you’re “less than” just because you have a different path.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“I Am the Fire,” by Haelstorm. I discovered this recently, and there is a lyric in it that sums it up for me: “I am the one I have been waiting for”. It is about getting rid of all your fears and limiting believes, and really standing in your power.