The Petalfox Post (A Founders Blog)
These are my letters to you, with love.
To: Founders, femtrepreneurs, and those on the path to be.
I love reading and listening to the stories of other founders. It excites me to empathize with the challenges they encountered before becoming a story worth featuring in print or recounting over podcast. While those recounts are a broad “looking back”, through the lens of present success, I plan to document for you the process of starting with nothing and becoming something.
One of the most valuable resources to me in the past few months has been a blog by Brad Feld, called Feld Thoughts. Brad’s personal brand permeates his work at Foundry Group, his published works, and his boardroom style. I love his ability to “take a serious topic, cover it rigorously, but do it in plain English with [our own] brand of humor” - Brad Feld, in his book, Start-up Boards. I am inspired by his ability to regularly educate, unearth and explore topics related to the world of capital investment.
I can’t promise that I will be able to rigorously cover any topic, but I can offer a window into the past, present and future of this [female] founder’s journey. I also hope to practice radical transparency on topics that may help other founders embrace the messy business of starting something.
Alas... my own aim at street cred. Petalfox is a lifestyle brand with a subscription and text commerce approach to flowers. This company is both my first VC backed startup and Delaware Incorporated company for which I can claim a founder & CEO title. However, this project is my 7th endeavor in building a “nothing” to “something.” I feel well equipped to bring you a compelling narrative and will draw on 15 years of executive experience, mulitple rounds of funding, and two IPOs (defined as a company's public offering on the stock exchange) while I was employed. My roles have primarily focused on global marketing / branding / communications, and product marketing in 40 major countries. I’ve also lead a product development, built and run internal creative teams and managed a global sales organization. I’ve been through the career cycle of individual contributor >> manager >> director >> executive many times and have developed a muscle memory with which to navigate each the success of these roles.
My new journey is not unique. One of the biggest challenges I face, as a non-technical CEO, is building a company powered by emerging technology. While I’ve been in close proximity to development teams for the past 15 years, I personally do not know how to code. Many lifestyle brand founders are facing the same technical challenges concerning software development resources. I can offer a window into one founder’s journey as we tackle these topics.
While we will all start with different ideas, I believe there is commonality in the challenges we face. Here are the questions that have surfaced for me:
- Do I have an idea worth starting a business around?
- How do I even start a company?
- Should I recruit a co-founder?
- As a non-technical CEO, when do I need a CTO?
- What skills do I have and where do I need advisors / mentors?
- What does the process of product development look like?
- When am I ready to test my market?
- How do I find my first non-friends & family cohorts?
- What should I consider before raising money for my business?
- How much money do I really need?
- How do build a compelling pitch deck?
- What are my operational milestones?
- How do I build a compelling brand?
- What low-cost tools can I use to build, publish and manage content?
- What does acquiring my first 100 and 1000 customers look like?
Petalfox co-founder & COO, Rhenee, will also be contributing regularly to our founders blog. Prepare to be frequently delighted by one of Rhenee’s many gifts - communication via .GIFs. We would love to hear from you on any other topics you’d like to see us take a stab at answering.