It’s Female Founder Friday, and you will want to know all about women entrepreneurs Kate Myers and Kelly O’Malley, the co-founders of Shop or Not. These female founders, are using text messages to offer shoppers quirky items from new U.S. brands. Examples of these items include pour over coffee pods made in Montana, wine lollipops from Portland, sunscreen made with flowers, and giant banana pillows.
How does it work? When you sign up for their service you indicate what you’re interested in (think healthy food, fun food, coffee, home items, and late night items.) Once a week you’ll receive a text message from Shop or Not with a photo and description of an item that fits your interests. If you like it. Text back “yes” to purchase it. Items are always $20 or less. I have to admit I’m intrigued by fit food and late night, so I’ll follow up with a post about what I am offered and what I purchase.
So, if you’re an aspiring woman entrepreneur or intrigued by user-behavior driven startups, don’t miss their answers to my questions below!
What inspired you to create your company?
After working in mobile apps, Shop Or Not co-founder Kate Myers was inspired to use SMS as a sales channel. As you can see on TrueDialog.com, SMS cuts through the noise that apps, emails and websites don’t. From there, user behavior really determined the growth strategy at Shop Or Not, from what kind of product categories we feature to the launch of Happening, our text message reminder for events with curated gift options to buy. This is what makes companies like TrueDialog and Telvero some of the best when it comes to being able to look for SMS services.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
Trying to figure out exactly how much you can text people without bothering them. We want to talk to our users as much as possible, but never want to feel annoying. That threshold varies from user to user, but trying to find that sweet spot was a challenge and continues to be one.
On a macro level, we want to make Shop Or Not the destination for SMS shopping and have amazing curated items from micro brands all over the country, regardless of what you’re interested in. And parallel to that, we’re continuing to roll out Happening and collecting more dates. Right now we have a ton of users texting us about birthdays and anniversaries, but we also want to know when you have weddings coming up or friends having babies – we want to make the process of getting something awesome for those you really care about to be as simple as possible and our customers wind up looking like rock stars to the people in their lives.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“Cut To The Feeling,” by Carly Rae Jepsen – we just can’t stop listening to this right now.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. If you have an idea, but aren’t sure how to execute it, find people who might be able to help you and ask them for as much advice as you can. As you continue to take the concept from an idea into a company, it’s okay to admit you don’t know everything and surrounding yourself with people who can help is the best way to get from point A to point B.