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If you just can't quit your idea after trying really really hard, then maybe it's meant to be
As a product and strategy expert, Bacharach is experienced in growing companies by launching software, apps and websites to millions of people, putting together joint ventures, and conceiving of new products. She has an MBA from NYU Stern and a BA from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!), where she wrote her honors thesis on managing innovation in multinational organizations.
Previously, she served as Director, Program Management at Univision.com and Entertainment with Univision Communications, Inc. where she was responsible for creating the digital roadmap for Univision's cross-platform digital properties (including TV shows, tentpole events, Univision.com, and the Univision App), ensuring KPIs, user experience, and alignment with business strategy are upheld. She also executed roadmaps using Agile & Scrum methodologies: including writing user stories and acceptance criteria, groom the product backlog, manage overarching priorities and balance workload between 6 different sprint teams to deliver on product vision. She managed delivery of Univision's first digital property built on a responsive framework, which drove triple digit growth in engagement over the previous year's site for the same tentpole event as well as sourced, negotiated, and executed large-scale integrations with vendors.
Bacharach also served with Univision as Associate in the Office of the CEO. In this role, she worked directly with C-suite leadership to evaluate, plan and execute CEO and Board-level strategic initiatives spanning Univision's assets in Broadcast, Cable, Local TV, Radio, and Online/Mobile, including an overhaul of Univision's digital content and product strategy, structuring and valuation of a joint venture with El Rey, Robert Rodriguez's new cable network, and formulation of Univision's long-range, cross-platform English language strategy.
She has also helped venture-backed startups, agencies, and fortune 1000 businesses with their digital strategy and consumer experience: She founded and led the customer innovation team at BigTent, Inc. (acquired by Care.com) and quantified the value of a Facebook “like” for a billion dollar apparel brand while at ReadySet Rocket.
Bacharach also has raised over $150,000 for her alma mater, U.C. Berkeley and led a team of cold-callers to a record breaking $3M fundraising year for the Cal Calling Center
Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?
I had an idea that just wouldn't let go. I had been thinking about it for almost 5 years when I decided to work on it in a more concerted way. I just didn't see anyone else solving the problem in an optimal way over years and years (and still haven't other than us!) and just decided that it was time to do something about it.
What are your favorite startups?
VETTA Capsule for sustainable clothing, Caraa for facemasks, Docsend for work
Why did you start your company?
As a consumer, I found that most brands and retailers I purchased from seemed to assume I knew what I was doing (I don't!) I looked into why that was and found that they're trying to give me expertise and coaching to be a better version of myself, to be successful with their products and my projects, etc. but that the way they're communicating their expertise is very tedious and manual. As with anything manual and time consuming, it doesn't get done as often as if it were automated. But automated solutions like personalization just show me more of what I'm already likely to buy so that coaching / aspirational element wasn't there. I saw an opportunity to apply AI to the human creative process and replicate the content that the employees of the brand or retailer already make so that we can make infinitely more and help them use dynamic changing catalog data to their advantage.
What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?
The uncertainty is the most frustrating. I have a hard time celebrating our successes because you are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The most rewarding part for me is seeing the solution that was just an idea being used by millions of people across the world and making consumers, retailers and brands lives easier.
What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?
Not managing their own psychology. I've seen so many people burn out, treat their teams poorly, put so much pressure on themselves that their personal lives fall apart, etc. That's not the way it has to be, but it takes a LOT of investment in your own self awareness to combat the effects of the stress this career takes on you.
What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?
- Don't do it :) If you can literally do anything else, don't become an entrepreneur. If you just can't quit your idea after trying really really hard, then maybe it's meant to be. This shit is hard so you better really really be invested in the problem you're solving otherwise it's going to be too tough to get out of bed on the bad days 10 years down the line.
- If you do it, don't die. Just find a way to stay alive because its such a rollercoaster, even in our darkest moments, there has always been something amazing right around the corner.
- Be a good person. It may seem like in the moment like it's the best thing to do to use that client's name when you know you're not supposed to, fudge the numbers a bit, ignore your team's well being for the sake of growth, etc. but it's always the good guys who finish first (you just might have to redefine the length of the race). Having watched competitors and other startups outright lie or fudge the truth about their metrics, the customers they work with, "dream sell" to clueless VCs, etc., I have felt frustrated that they were getting ahead and I wasn't. But bad karma always comes back to roost, and at least I can sleep at night knowing that I'm not compromising my values for a short term win.
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Joined Vator onMichelle Bacharach is CEO and Co-Founder of FindMine, an award-winning software platform that uses machine learning to scale product curation for the world's top retailers.