The only difference was that, early on [investors] asked me a lot more hard questions. I think Harvard Business Review did a study that confirmed that a lot of women are asked more negative, protectionary questions instead of proactive questions like “How are you going to not screw this up?” versus easy lay-up questions. I think subconsciously I dealt with some stuff there. But, in general, I’m passionate and confident and go through it as if there’s no difference.
Have you ever dealt with imposter syndrome?
For sure, the struggle is real. I think it’s hard when, externally, my friends and family that I haven’t seen for awhile are like “Oh you’re killing it! You’re doing amazing.” And they have no idea how much stress and ups and downs and every day not knowing what’s going to happen there is.
We just got some big press and it was great, but then of course you’re like: “Oh, I still don’t know how things are going to shake out over the next couple years.” So, in some ways, it puts more pressure because you feel like you really have to perform to make it real. And you have to try to not have that pressure trickle down to your team.
I try to be kind to myself. It’s not a thing you’re used to but you just have to try to celebrate the wins and take time to acknowledge when you’ve achieved something big and let that sink in. That’s helped, a bit. But all of my friends who are founders, we all feel it.
What’s currently your biggest business challenge?
I studied business and started my first entrepreneurial endeavor when I was 17, but at the end of the day, I still joke to my friends that no one, even at Wharton Business School, teaches you the things that are really important to run a business, like how to hire, how to manage, how to maintain your stress levels, how to inspire, how to lead. Those were the soft skills that really actually are the most important.
Finding the right talent has been the biggest challenge. It’s gotten a lot better recently but we’re doing something no one’s done before and disrupting two old school industries, both on agriculture and food. And we’re in San Francisco which is high cost of living and not necessarily a mecca for food and beverage companies. So to find people who understand food and agriculture, who want to live in San Francisco, that are willing to work for a high-growth tech company was challenging.
It’s gotten better now that there’s a lot of focus on food tech and ag-tech, and people are realizing the impact that it can have, like Blue Apron and Beyond Meat. So, it’s getting better day by day, but that has been a big challenge in the last few years.
What’s been your company’s biggest victory so far?
We’ve pulled over ten million pounds of produce that would have gone to waste, which is a big milestone for us. And we’re working on some really exciting co-branding opportunities with some really large food and beverage companies which has always been a dream of mine. So, that’s really exciting.