From hedge funds to homeopathy

The Founder That Left Goldman Sachs for Beekeeping

Carly Stein’s bee-product brand just closed a $3.5 million fundraising round.

Welcome to The Leap, where women (and nonbinary) entrepreneurs open up about what it took to get to where they are now. In 2018, women founders received just 2.2% of the $130 billion in venture money invested in the United States. Given these odds, it’s time to get real about what it’s really like to be a woman founder. From raising capital to imposter syndrome, we explore what it takes for women to enter the world of entrepreneurship.

Today, we chat with Carly Stein, the founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals. Carly began her career out of college at a hedge fund and then moved on to Goldman Sachs, but eventually left her career in finance to focus on the medicine cabinet.

In a time of overprescribing antibiotics and rising instances of autoimmune diseases, Stein is working to promote natural remedies in an effective, sustainable, and clean way. Having just closed a $3.5 million fundraising round led by Sonoma Brands, she opens up about imposter syndrome, following your happiness, and how she stays grounded as a first-time founder.

Did you go to college? If so, what did you study?

I went to the University of Victoria. I did social sciences and biology and went into research. I really loved it and during college I had my first career research experience as an intern at the Bill Clinton Foundation and was able to run the prescription drug abuse initiative. I was doing a lot of research into pharmaceuticals and overprescription.

What were you doing for work before starting your company? Tell us about your career path before becoming an entrepreneur.

I had a job offer at a hedge fund out of college. I could kind of do everything and anything, so I sort of had a crash course in finance and got to learn a lot. I rose in the ranks there and Goldman Sachs ended up asking me to interview. Ten months later, they placed me on the trading floor, which was interesting because I never took a finance course in my life. It was a great place to learn and a really positive experience.

I’ve always been really focused on wellness and health and sustainability and environmental concerns, and none of that [finance] work was feeding that part of me. I was feeling lost and became kind of depressed. I was doing this job that wasn’t fulfilling to me yet I felt tied to it because it was so great on paper. I was questioning, ‘why aren’t I happy?’.

I made a spreadsheet about happiness and the thing that I kept coming back to was beekeeping and making bee products, which I’d started doing in college basically to cure my health issues. Beyond my own experience having an autoimmune disease and not being able to use a lot of antibiotics and cold and flu products, I started to realize that there are some real issues with the pharmaceutical world.

So I started making bee products in my apartment. At the time, I was still not really thinking of it as a business, more as a hobby. I was making these bee products and working my 16-hour days on the trading floor and coming home late at night and on weekends. I started going to farmers markets and pop-up shops on the weekend to sell these products, and that’s when the company was really born.

I was getting feedback from different consumers about how [my products were] changing their health and working for them and realized the