Transition from a museum curator to a $8.3M VC-backed tech founder, with Norby’s Sam Safer Valentine
Today on the show we’re learning from Sam Safer Valentine, one of the co-founders of tech startup Norby.
You might have heard us talking about Norby recently in one of our ads or across social media, and that’s because they’re one of our sponsors this month which is just so damn exciting.
In this episode, you’ll hear about Sam’s non-traditional pathway to the world of tech, what she learned from her first time raising capital, and her advice to you!
I particularly loved diving into the financial side of things, with Norby having raised an impressive $8.5M to date. Fundraising, as expected, was a complete rollercoaster. It's a number of things coming together in a beautiful recipe of numbers and traction, the wider environment, buzz, timing, where your competitors are, and finding the right partners and investors. With all that, it's important to keep a clear mind on who you want to raise money from and how you want to run your business. Just because someone wants to write you a cheque doesn't mean that it's the right fit for you, there needs to be a mutual benefit and partnership there.
Sam's key take-away when it comes to raising? Don't give up. You just need to get to one yes. That journey and that road are going to look entirely different for everyone. Sometimes your hit with a hundred no's, but it just takes that one 'yes' to turn everything around. So, if you believe in it, and you're going to bet on yourself, keep going. It just takes a little practice.
And while we’re on the topic of Norby, today we launched our 1800 - hype girl hotline powered by Norby and it’s soooo fun. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about starting since the beginning of Female Startup Club to bring a little more sparkle to the week. Basically you sign up to receive texts from us and then every Monday you receive a dose of motivation and good vibes directly to your inbox. Whether you’re a student, working 9-5, or an entrepreneur it’s literally for anyone. And it’s free - so sign up by clicking the link in the show notes or our IG bio and pop your number in to get going. I’m so hyped for this!!
Let’s get into this episode, this is Sam for Female Startup Club
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
My name is Sam Safer Valentine. I'm one of the co founders and Ceo of Norby. Norby is all in one marketing platform built for the future of creative entrepreneurship. We provide the widest range of tools and resources and expertise to upscale digital marketing. Know how explore passions and achieve success online and off my elevator pitch. I've had a really episodic career honestly, which I've loved. I'm definitely, I consider myself a generalist and I've come to understand, Yeah, particularly for what I do, it's actually like a huge strength, but I think kind of at heart I've developed into operator and kind of community builder. Um So I've literally done everything from at one point I lived I lived for about 10 years actually in London and I was very focused on being at one point like a fashion curator and I've written on 20th century british fashion textiles. I then kind of worked in museums, I worked at victoria Albert Museum in London, but on the commercial side I've worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in new york, get on the commercial side, but doing a lot of sales, marketing, retail audience engagement, and then eventually ended up with uh one of my former colleagues, both from the Vienna and I met, we started a boutique sales and marketing agency. So I've done a lot of things, which I think has wonderfully prepared me for where I am today. I love that so much because I feel like there's still that perception out there that, you know, you've got to follow a certain pathway to get to a certain kind of destination and your destination right now is tech startup, but like you took this pathway of like over here and then over here and then back a little bit this way and then jump to that area and like you didn't take this pathway that you would assume you needed to take to get to tech startup, What was it, you know, when you were in the agency and building that kind of world, what was it that was leading you towards nor be like what made you switch from agency to tech platform? Yeah, I so one of my consulting clients when I was at the agency at the time was bulletin, um I had actually met Ali Kriegman, one of their co founders and C. 00 Through another client that I had been kind of consulting for. And we ended up just like meeting up eventually I. R. L. And we had a coffee and we were just chatting bulletin was going through a kind of pretty big transition to a from being a kind of brick and mortar like new cool kind of retail kind of co retailing share experience to a wholesale tech platform. Um I had done a lot of work around kind of wholesale and retail and buying and special projects. And from that meeting I ended up going to consult for bulletin and Ali and Alana and it was the first time I'd actually worked really in tech and at a venture backed tech company and I just absolutely loved it. I had such an incredible time, I learned so much, was exposed to so much Um and ended up doing a little bit of kind of like head of products. I did, I did a lot of things, but it was really from that experience where I was like Huh, this is cool. And at the beginning of 2020, even before the pandemic had even happened, I had started to think about what I potentially wanted for my next kind of steps, I think what was awesome, like a really key insight is I'm a very, I'm a very social person and I love working with people and cross collaboration in teams and I had gone from that for many, many years to it being myself and my business partner Susan but Susan was in London and we had, you know, a few other people kind of helping us out but it was very lonely and I think I realized just for like me being like the best self I could be and actually just like mentally and just being really kind of happy and fulfilled, I probably needed to go back more into like a team, kind of like environment and so it was kind of that it was there and I thought oh maybe I'll do some product management and I'll work across both project management skills. But also like there's a lot of business acumen there, there's analytics, there's working kind of cross functionally, there's marketing, there is support, sales rep box, there's a lot of different things that can go into being a product manager and so that's kind of where I started that kind of tech journey. I love that again, because it's like, it wasn't that you had this first and foremost idea, you were thinking about, okay, what are my strengths, what do I love? How can I pull this together and build this thing that I want to build, even though I'm not starting with that idea first, how did you kind of develop the concept and kind of come up with the idea and was it different to what it looks like now, are you saying in terms of Norby. Yeah. So I think two things I have really tried to I think I've been very lucky throughout this episodic career to have opportunities kind of almost like a ride and be presented to me. And I'm kind of like am I really excited about this? Am I gonna learn something new? Is this a good challenge? And I kind of respond in that way, as you say, I haven't been very like I'm gonna be a X, Y and Z. And like very strategically this is how I'm doing that. But I mean really it was like during the pandemic, my two co founders and I so nick Girard and Stephen Lane, we ended up building a curated consumer facing culture calendar basically of all events that were happening I. R. L. Across like art, fashion, wellness lifestyle in the height of the pandemic. And really when all like higher l events went virtual and I should say that you know I was also in sales. So we had lost about We had just sold spring and I think lost about 80%, maybe 85% of our sales and the consulting contracts. Oh sorry. We were we were we were selling in the agency at the beginning of 2022 jewelry and accessories. So Susan and I at that time were rapping about I don't know, 5 to 6 different international drooling accessory lines and you know we had just done a whole bunch of trade shows both in new york and London and paris and you know, we're about to ship and the pandemic hits like so so many, it was a moment and so I had a lot of time on my hands and I had still been noodling and thinking about, you know, does this become more of a side hustle now, this, this business, do I go into tech, am I going to be a product manager etcetera? So I ended up talking with Nick and Nick is Ali Creeks wins partner and that's really kind of how that happened. And we started working on this project, we had some extra time and you know, you could on this culture facing kind of calendar, you could get a text when an event was starting and everything was super, super, beautifully designed. We had a daily newsletter going out with all like the coolest kind of events that were happening. We were starting to kind of build community, talked to a ton of different people and it went mini viral and brand started to want to partner with us and they needed tools to manage what, you know, they're, they're kind of pivot and we needed tools also to kind of manage the community that we were starting to build and get to know those who were in the community. So it happened in a kind of nice organic way, but there was this moment where brands wanted to start kind of paying us for the tooling and honestly we got really crazy inbound quote unquote like love. And we really thought okay this is like a moment and we were talking to direct to consumer brands creators, content creators, small businesses communities that had popped up online communities that had been uh you know building community, you know, together I. R. L. That then had to make a kind of digital switch and they needed tools, they needed S. M. S. They needed email, they needed beautiful landing pages. They and they really wanted things to be highly kind of customizable and like beautifully designed and feel very native branding is everything these days, right? People businesses spend a lot of time thinking about kind of tone of voice and look and feel and you know people wanted kind of integrated campaigns and there was a business opportunity and we thought actually kind of let's go for it. But I think the real kind of lightbulb moment to for this business really did come off the back of and I can't stress this enough conversations at that time with like hundreds of these small businesses and brands and communities and nick and I would literally whoever would give us five minutes, we would just get on the phone or like voice note or just you know whatever it was to just be able to ask a few questions ask questions about like their, you know, their marketing stock or what their pain points were, the tools that they wish they had the data, they wish they had all the, you know, what would kind of just help them be just like incrementally a little bit more successful or make their operations in their business kind of like that much easier and it became very clear the problem we needed to solve and who we were solving it for and I think importantly how big that opportunity was. So we ended up, long story short, I promise, we closed down that community and we took a beat and then next steven and I got to working and building them Vp of more be wow wow wow, wow, so many things, so many things to say, where do I want to start here must have been hard to shut down this thing that was already like working and providing so much impact and value, how are you funding the business, you know, I was gonna say it was, but it also, it felt right, it felt like it felt like it felt like a moment and it felt clear that it was, it felt clear that there was more of the B two, B two C opportunity and that was bigger than let's say more kind of B two C and maybe evolving into more of like a media brand or etcetera, there was just this moment where you could, you could see that that was, that was the big bet to make, I feel like this is a good point to talk about like the money piece of the puzzle because yeah, obviously this transition sounds like the aggregator is one thing and I'd love to know how you were kind of like funding that. But moving into this like full, you know, all in one tech stack sounds like a lot of working capital needed for me when I hear that. So I want to understand like the money piece and what's that money journey look like? How did you get started? How are you bootstrapping or funding the kind of initial aggregator? And then what was that transition into Norby as we know it? So I should say, Nick and Steve are amazing, they're technically amazing software engineers front and back and they've been, Nick's been a product manager at Microsoft Steve has done work for 18 T and Adobe, so I'm incredibly lucky, I'm very nontechnical. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was still carrying on working at the agency, you know, steve was doing a, you know, a few contracting jobs, so was nick like we were just, you know, at that kind of really at the beginning before we even raised a pre seed and we'll get there in a minute. I mean we were doing whatever we could to build product when we could, you know, through nights weekends etcetera and just kind of like bootstrapping that, but nick and steve had worked at various different startups together and actually had had a startup prior to to Norby. So definitely, you know with they were very much within the startup space and had a few, I would say connections to Vcs but we are venture backed seed stage company and our trajectory so far has been raising a small pre seed. So it's kind of where you normally, you know, you could take some angel investment or a pre seed is where you normally start on that journey. We did that in the back back end of 2020 and that money basically enabled nick and steven myself to go full time on Norby and really dig in and kind of build in the M. V. P. That I was kind of talking about before an M. V. P. Is like minimal viable product. Like what can you just get out there that is gonna have basic functionality that your potential users, customers, clients, etcetera can start to use. I mean you can have a M. V. P. For a, you know, a new actual kind of physical product etcetera, but that's what that is, what is used intact. However, before we, you know, taking venture capital isn't isn't a very kind of light decision and we were very intentional about that and very eyes wide open on taking venture, we talked very long and hard about adventure was the right way to kind of take on capital. That was right for the business that we wanted to build Like, particularly for our lifestyles as well. There's a lot of, a lot of pressure. Do we want that for ourselves? Do we want that for a team that we would eventually build in scale, how what type of culture, where we out to to create. I feel like we've all read the stories about kind of, you know, big venture back businesses and tech companies and what can ensue there, the horrors. Exactly. But then we also, at the same time again, you know, we looked at the size of the opportunity and thought this was a marketing market making moment and we saw this opportunity could be huge. And ultimately we decided to take on venture instead of bootstrapping, which is obviously totally admirable. And so many businesses have done so so many that have actually been featured on this podcast too. And you know, in a very, very small way. I had bootstrapped my last business, that agency too, but we were like, okay, we're doing this and you know, you just needed one. Yes, we had one incredible early investor notation and nick from notation in particular who, you know, just took that bet on us and wrote us that first check. And Since then, in total, we've raised about 8.5 million which has enabled us to really expand our engineering product growth, customer success capacity with some pretty incredible talent and expertise. And it just genuinely love the team. We've built so much and I'm also learning from them every day, but really like, you know, I'm sure your audience wants to know that fundraising is a roller coaster and tell us about some of the ups and downs. I was gonna say it can be like very, very up and very, very down and you know, I do think so much of that fundraising is based on a number of things coming together, like this kind of beautiful recipe, it's your numbers in traction, right? It's like the, just like the wider environment, the buzz, the timing where your competitors are and of course, I think finding the right kind of partners and investors just because someone wants to write you a check and sometimes you like actually need the money, it may not actually be the right fit in the way that you and they're kind of funding philosophy or how you want to run kind of, your business. I think there needs to be some mutual benefit and kind of partnership there. Have you had to say no or have you said yes and then wished in hindsight, you said no to money? No, I think we've been incredibly lucky everyone that we have said yes to have been incredible partners think we've definitely had conversations where we thought, you know, if that conversation didn't go anywhere again or we didn't get back on the phone or what have you, that would be okay to, you know, and then there's times where people are like, you know, you think you have a kind of great conversation for whatever reason, maybe they have an investment in too close and you're like, okay dang, you know, what's your like from the fundraising experience? Obviously like $8 million. That's a lot of money. What's your kind of key takeaway? If there's anyone listening who wants to go down the pathway of venture capital dollars, what's your like? Here's my piece of wisdom that I can share to you. I would just say you don't give up, right? I think you just need to get to one. Yes. And that journey and that road is different for everyone, right? So Sometimes it's 95 nose and then you just need that. Yes. And that first yes is super important because others get behind that. Yes. So even if the yes, takes longer and it's painful honestly if you believe in it and you believe in yourself and you're gonna abandon yourself, keep going. Don't be afraid also to iterate on your deck and your pitch after each call sometimes just little tweaks, really bring your story to life. Stripping away excess can really crystallize the problem you're trying to solve and the opportunity and the market size and one of the learns is practice pitching probably with a few firms that you're, that aren't like your dream firms, right? Um, or that you think your dream firms are just, you can kind of get into the groove, it's like with any kind of process, sometimes it takes a little, it just takes a little practice and fundraising, you're not always in a fun quote unquote fundraising process, right? You can go in and out of that, so it might feel a little, you know, to kind of re pitch yourself or re pitch the idea etcetera. It sometimes you get a little rusty and then you got to kind of brush up and kind of get back in there. Yeah, that's so true. And that's like, it really is like anything, I feel like the last time I saw you in new york, we were talking about this when it comes to public speaking, it's like exactly, it isn't a skill that you just naturally necessarily have. You actually just need to practice and do it again and do it again and do it again and eventually you find your rhythm for talking and like your movement for talking and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, great piece of advice, I love that, thank you. And actually, you had given me some really, really great advice in the lead up to going to collision to give that talk too. So that was a very good, uh, you know, for everyone listening there, you know, it was writing writing different phrases and kind of key bullet points down, um really trying to use those kind of keywords to trigger the main points that you kind of wanted to talk about if you were getting a little nervous up on stage and just trying to get almost into like a meditative state beforehand too and just leaning just trusting yourself to go. Yeah it was great. I mean I think I honestly it is really fun. I definitely was so nervous. Um I definitely like I think I mean I did I don't even think I like fully blacked out during. I was like did I actually just do that? But it was great. And you're like did I actually did I say that? Did I even miss that line or did I say it? Yeah. Yeah I said actually there was one word that I said kind of wrong. I didn't even realize. I mean honestly no one noticed besides myself. No one noticed and yeah which is fine. Yeah I'm like I guess there were pictures and there was a recording so I did do that thing. Yeah it was scary but incredible and I was like I can do that again. All right, let's go. Now you've got that little framework in your back pocket. You had a little bit of Francis you ready to go? Yeah let's talk about the launch when you kind of had your M. V. P. Ready, You were like this is good to go because I want to understand specifically what that looks like. You already had access to some kind of community. I don't know what size that was or if you're able to share but like you had a pool of people to get started with. How did you expand from there? Yeah so we had some early traction with some customers really ahead of like the beta launch when we just kind of had that M. V. P. Which gave us the initial confidence to really start Norby. So a super early adopter was Hillary France from brand assembly and Adele to tango and brand assembly is both a trade show. So there is a built in kind of community there but they do I think they have like a coworking space at one point and they do kind of like back office services and Adele had actually been one of the co founders of garment ori so they really kind of gave us our first push and you know because it was the two of them there was there were a lot of small businesses brands, content creators to kind of just like naturally tap into bulletin. Was also an early user of the product for their digital trade show programming and early kind of s a mass marketing and you know what I said before, I know Ali who's you know a mentor to me but I think she's also been on this show, I loved it. Yeah check out that episode. So I think we just got incredibly lucky there and then we had brands that kind of just started hearing about us kind of word of mouth kind of organically like mod and tonic and we we're just, you know, we were, it was 2020 everyone spending a lot of time online, right? So we ended up just having conversations in, you know, D. M. S. Or where have you And we ended up working with creative entrepreneurs like Alyssa lip, who she's a brand marketer, but she's a writer and podcaster of leave your Mark Ellen yin who runs courses and she has a podcast too and just launched a coworking space. So we, we just, you know, building community and kind of networking and talking. I feel like it's almost similar to how you ended up kind of building, you know, and just asking people, hey, do you know someone who we can talk to, who's building something really cool or like what's this new format over here? I think it's similar to how you've probably built and networked through female startup club totally. And I mean that's how you and I connected, you slid into my DMS one day, probably 2020 20 end of 2020 or maybe this out of 2021. And I think people forget that that is just such a good approach. Like I think everyone thinks that you need to go out there and you know, instantly launch with ads and spray everywhere and kind of like try and do this mass approach, but actually if you take a targeted approach of like, here's a list of 100 people, I would love to use myself where or I would love to use my product and you just like craft a personalized message to that person introducing yourself, introducing what you do, but also no, like no strings attached, like whatever, just more to build that connection and that relationship, you know, I remember for me, I didn't sign up straight away to Norby, it wasn't the right time for me. I had a lot going on, but then when I was ready I was like, damn, this is really cool. I actually love this and we've used Norby ever since as our link in bio, you know, now we have a formal partnership together, which is so exciting and you know, if everyone hasn't heard, you know your ads and seen you on social through our channels, like you're under a rock right now, we've been out here championing what you guys are up to and you know, today we just launched our the hype girl hotline, which is so, so exciting to be able to send these kind of motivational texts, but this has been a long journey right? Like we connected way back when through just you sliding into my inbox and so I, I just, I think people underestimate the power of just like those like starting small and going one person at a time instead of mass approach and mass blasting, I think that's such a great point and that's exactly honestly kind of what we did we, you know, we done from there, someone introduced us to freelancing females and I hopped on the phone with, you know, ended up hopping on the phone with Tia and we I think ended up d m ng with um some of the guys from the future party and that kind of community and then, you know, ended up on a phone call, Elise Fox from Sad Girls Club etcetera. So it was just, it was very incremental, but it was starting out with that list and it was kind of like who do we want to, who we want to talk to? Who our our dream kind of users for this product maybe now maybe in the future, but if I could build even just a little relationship and sometimes that feels also really scary because you're kind of putting yourself out there. So even if you start with, okay, I'm gonna just start engaging and I'm gonna reply to a story and just do a little like emoji reply and then Send like one little kind of sentence and kind of build yourself up, there's ways you can kind of do that, two 100%. How is your marketing approach changed from, you know that kind of like 2020, just like you and the DMS reaching out to today. You know, obviously you guys have had significant growth, you've gone through another raise, like what does that look like now we're seeing a very surprising mix of both kind of product led growth and community led growth I'd say, and how dynamic that can be and how it all incrementally kind of compounds. And so what that actually means is in terms of product led growth in our tech product, we have kind of growth and distribution built in and so with our beloved kind of users having us in their link in bio that does, that's like a distribution and kind of brand and kind of naming signal the footers of our landing pages. Um you can also kind of click through it says by Norby, you can click through to to come and sign up collecting data through our widgets sending smS and email. There's ways that are, you know, just some growth loops that lead back to our website or being able to sign up or just kind of explore and learn a little bit more about kind of who we are, different kind of templates that you can, you can build out and then, you know, through product led growth, two different types of plans for different types of creative entrepreneurs and where they are and they're kind of business and entrepreneurial journey. So that's that's one part of it inbounds or just kind of organically also from like social discovery platforms like I. G and and Tiktok word of mouth is also very high for us to that has been and that really has been building kind of over, over this year. And importantly we've had to really hone our content strategy and kind of mix there and educational content and that's really just from learning and trying and analyzing to to get that channel to, to start to work referrals from existing customers is driving a ton of growth from us too. I mean, you see that intact, you see that in direct to consumer CPG, you know, there is literally nothing better than a recommendation from a user and you know, how powerful that personal impact can be, both for the business and sharing tools and platforms and resources. Users can share their unique referral link and get kind of sweet deals like building credit to use Norby, you know, towards free months upgrading to different plans. We've dabbled a little bit, I mean small tests and kind of like paid search, So that also helped us to build quote unquote, our top of funnel or kind of are start to kind of build user acquisition and attract users, we are learning, you know, there you end up learning different things about different within your different funnels, you potentially have different types of customers or users that kind of like come through them. So it's always kind of fun and challenging to learn about a new kind of cohort coming into Norby. And um we've also been very intentional about partnerships and collaborations, which you know, has also built brand awareness as well as, you know, some of our top of Funnel and I think viewed per quarter and with like kind of the right integrated partnerships like you and I here today and and what we've been building, I think that exposes our tooling and our expertise to aligned audiences and communities, so it really has been, it's, it's honestly, it's taken some time and I'm so impatient, I'm always like, I just want everything to, you know, I just wanted everything to work and nick and steve will just be like, it's okay, like, you know, things do incrementally compound and I've heard so, you know, I've heard so many different entrepreneurs and founders and others kind of, you know, say this, they're somehow just, you have to kind of trust, there are just these little moments and things kind of come together but don't be afraid to be to try to sit back and be objective and I can be very, you know, I take a lot of pride in my work and I can get really, you know defensive, but you have to sometimes take a try to take a step back and objectively be like, okay, that's working, that's not working, what are we going to tweak, how are we going to optimize, let's fail fast here, quote unquote and let's just try something else new and that, you know, that seems to be working amazing, Gosh, you just shared so many so many little nuggets of information in there. I love it as a funded tech startup, you know in the VC world you're obviously on a trajectory for you know an exit or an acquisition one day. What do you like, how do you think about that? Like how do you approach your roadmap for the future? Is this like a, do you have to have like we want to sell in three years or do you have to be like who knows what the plan is or we are building this specifically to sell two X. Company? Like how does it work when you think about about the future because obviously if you raise capital the goal is to sell, we all know at some point. So how do you approach thinking about that? And especially if there are three co founders, if you might have like different points of view or if you kind of all come together to a line but like can we just talk a little bit about the exit side of things? Sure to be frank. We've toyed with almost every single different kind of outcome. Would we want to sell like you know what we want to sell one day, who might we like wanna be acquired by, would we, you know what does that look like? Would we want to I. P. O. However we honestly just today still don't mean that there is no answer. You know, we'd also, you know it's a startup and we're all taking guts here. So yes, we'd all like to you know, make some money, it would be amazing. But also uh it definitely it is, you know, it is a journey and market conditions and environments change and so you can have one plan, you know, like we were in a bull market now or in a bear market, you know what you could raise on previously, you can't raise on now, you know, cash isn't as as free flowing, but I think it's good to toy and kind of play with that, but I think it can be very hard from, you know, it's a startup and things changed, I would say every quarter every couple of months. So it's nice, you definitely need to need to think that way. I don't it's not it hasn't for us in particular and I can only really talk to our experience that hasn't been like the full, full kind of driving force of our roadmap and nick and steve and I as three co founders, we really try to be very aligned and if we need to have a robust conversation and debate, we do, but we I mean we were pretty much honestly and knock on wood, we are pretty much aligned all the time where we we get to where we need to be. I think we all we the three of us push us and kind of prod in in the right ways and in some of that conversation and, and I say tension but not even, it's not tension in a bad it's tension in in a, in a good way. I think we always do come out in the right place, feeling really confident in the decision and sometimes, yeah, one of us is gonna, you know, it's just in life in any relationship, one might feel more strongly than the other about something else and you can pick and choose your battles. But yeah, so I'm not sure what the exit looks like. I'm just gonna have to wait and see. We'll see, we'll have to we'll have to stay tuned. Yeah, what advice can you give for any founders who are in the tech space and Doyle would say you can do hard things um and your prop kind of doing them every single day. Starting a business, whether you're in the tech space or not is incredibly hard work, but it's also the most rewarding work I think and ensure you have a dang good support system around you to cheer you on. Um and your every move. Yeah, no, you need the girls and I think it's also important to have like personal and professional kind of bored too and starting out in some ways. So you know, whether that is mentors, former colleagues, connectors, point people, etcetera, you can call on those individuals together questions, data, brainstorm strategize maybe push your thinking a little bit Honestly. And I think particularly like for for women in business and women in tech don't let the perfectionism get in the way done is better than not started 80 per, you know, it's like the 80, and also no one does this alone ask for help. It's so hard sometimes, but ask for help and people really actually do want to help you. Like it's I've just seen it throughout the years. People, people want to help people wanna be part of other people's success or taking action or kind of taking a step forward. So I think also, you know, other advice is don't give up on yourself, you know, even when you are your own harshest critic and you know, I have to probably say this to myself every single day. Yeah. And you just have to give it your best, right? That's honestly all you can do in life. Yeah. And I think like in tech, I am incredibly lucky that like, yes, women, female founders etcetera are still a minority. But there are so many more outstanding founders, co founders, VP sweetie C Suite people kind of out there now who are really making incredible waves intact, both on the upside on the marketing side, on the, you know, tech and kind of engineering and development side and software side too. So it's great to see and let's just kind of keep going a 100%. Let's keep let's keep pushing those boundaries, breaking those glass ceilings or whatever the saying is.
So question # one, What's your why? Why are you doing this every single day? I have three wise, great thought about this hard working with small businesses, creators, makers, creative entrepreneurs and providing them with the tools they need to achieve success. However they define that success really brings me personally, so much joy. I love nothing more than hearing from our users about, you know, how using one of our tools, help them to drive, you know, x amount of sign ups or build their list or everything just like looks really beautiful or something that's easy to use. Um and I love getting to, you know, sell to new ones or just have conversations and build community to my co founders, nick and steve and my team, I feel so deeply lucky and grateful to be building a business with them and with really talented individuals and that really, that really feels me every day and I want to prove to myself in the world that I can do this and that alongside Stephen Nick, we can take you to places we never dreamed of, and that's a challenge and I love a challenge. Damn, how cool is that? I love that. I love a challenge. Question number two, what has been your favorite marketing moment so far? I would say my fave number one marketing moment of this year was probably our partnership with, I love creatives, we sponsored 10 scholarships for their instagram course and if you guys don't know, I love creatives, you should definitely check them out and check out, you know. But it's she's so cool. Yeah and it's a really really amazing community where you know I think it was also one of those kind of dream kind of moments where it was really very aligned to our core values in there. So around kind of accessible tools and education upscaling, developing what success might look like for creative entrepreneurs. It was also very very aligned in terms of target customers and I love creatives themselves as an ideal user and a kind of community for us to kind of like tap into. We did some I. G. Lives and emailing and collab and kind of content. It was really it was very cool and it was almost one of those kind of pinch me moments and the partnership performed amazingly. Honestly it was like one of the best months we've had this year. So that has been a really wonderful moment for us. Love that. Very cool. Question # three is what's your go to business resource when it comes to like a book or a podcast or a newsletter or person etc. Cool. I have a few not gonna lie. Um newsletter right now is Lenny's newsletter. Um it's all about kind of product growth, Ops leadership, absolutely love that. Subscriber part of the community, there's like a slack group kind of channel as well, highly recommend This podcast. Honestly I have loved female startup club from the beginning, I was a listener since you started in 2020, even before Norby was kind of a glint in my eye, I should say. Yeah, no way! That's so cool. How did you find us? I've generally just been always very interested in entrepreneurship, leadership, women in business and I think it was probably an algorithm. I'm not gonna lie, it might have been a Spotify algorithm that I was like, oh, huh, what was this? So I do, I know I love that for us and then here we are now. So that was great. Yeah, the 20 minute VC. There's some really cool episodes on sales, growth product and venture from founders. But actually I think more importantly that one, there are like a lot of VP level roles or you know, there's kind of C suite and just kind of below C suite that they get on there and there's some really great ideas and kind of thoughts on kind of strategy, like actual tactics and some leadership stuff in there. That's great. And I love to read honestly, but I don't really have that much time. So newsletters and pods are pretty much my jam right now you jam, you go to Yeah, question number four. How do you win the day? What are your habits and rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated giving into the snooze button. I press it one too many times every single morning and me too. I have been fighting that. I've been fighting it for years and actually I am giving birth next month and super stoked and I was like, you know what, I'm gonna be an early morning. Like I don't know why I'm striving to be an early morning person. Like I'm just gonna naturally be that way like with a little baby. So I'm just leaning into this news. My husband wakes up extremely early naturally. So I'll normally kind of go and find him and give him a cuddle and love on him a bit working out coffee jotting down some kind of gratitude and accomplishments. I am very hard on myself. So I think it's the gratitude and accomplishments are good just to remind myself that like even when days are hard, like I'm doing pretty good things. I check it in my friends and my family just to get also out of my head a bit to put on a great outfit and accessories. That always helps. You know, if my schedule allows maybe walk around the block. But yeah, it's yeah, simple things. The simple things in life. I'm with you. I love the simple pleasures Question # five, biggest money mistake. How much did it cost you? I'm not sure we've had our worst one yet yet. However, during our beta launch, we definitely tested a bunch of influencer marketing and I feel like I've heard this on this, this podcast uh, a few times on instagram and Tiktok and we, you know, we definitely had a few bombs just kind of like super silence, really, really kind of poor performance didn't really move any metric either which way We spend probably around 3K, maybe a little bit over in total. So not necessarily a ton of money, but like when you're actually trying to extend your runway and be pretty scrappy, like $3,000 definitely hurt at that time. However, we did kind, you know, we learned what a successful kind of like influencer marketing and partnership would look like and what those kind of like methods were, which I do think was, it's really important to, to do that. And I think, you know, sometimes there's gonna be money lost in the influencer kind of marketing game, but particularly I think when it comes to testing those tactics. So I think on the back of that, it really was like test fail hone and just make sure that the next kind of test you do is just kind of like incrementally better. Yeah, 100% great learning to have. Last question question number six is what is just a crazy story. You can share good, bad or otherwise from the journey of entrepreneurship, Have a good one. I think, oh, great. I was, I've been this one. This one, Yeah, I hope it's relatable. It's definitely, I think probably our fear and some other people's other businesses fears out there too. But you know, we've been, um, we've been in a kind of closed beta kind of invite only, um, scenario for a little while that's gonna kind of change in the fall. But we had a competitor, a yC kind of Combinator company. Um, and if you're not familiar with Y. C, they're kind of like the creme de la creme of kind of startup incubators, they weasel their way into our product and with kind of like fake info and after exploring and touring our product and features and kind of content and stuff, they literally kind of like stole slash like plagiarized wording verbatim from one of our beta launch blog posts that nick and like our positioning that nick had written and honestly they like kind of hardly changed a word and, or like maybe a few, but they used it like on their website for a time and company descriptions on other websites. They started to use it as part of like an S. C. O. Play and we actually found out about it, that they also used it in a pitch deck or to, to investors that we were also kind of talking to, um, and starting to kind of build some relationships with. I had a fundraising and we were kind of alerted to that and I think there's a call where it was like, oh, this really sounds like really, really familiar, like something similar that I was like, just pitched. So it was wild to say the least. That that sucks. I think quite frankly were probably freaked out for a minute and then we were like, you know what actually, okay, we're actually doing something good. Like kind of just knowing that the biz that you're building was making moves and felt like a kind of threat or maybe kind of good enough to your competitor. Um, and they were kind of sweating it a bit. We were like, okay, like, you know, there's, there's honestly not a ton you can do except out execute and outperform and it just feels us to do even better. Yeah, I love it. Mike Sam, this was so much fun. Thank you for taking us through the Norby journey and your lessons and your insights and all the cool bits and tips you've shared throughout this episode. Love you. You are so welcome. Love you too. This is an absolute pleasure, so excited that we were able to do this and and partner and yeah, it's a great way to start my morning