#SWAAYthenarrative

This 26-year-old Went From College Side Hustle To Running A $17M+ Funded Company.

6 Min Read
Trending Now

Her Secret? "Just fake it". Beatrice Fischel-Bock wholeheartedly believes that failure isn't the end—it's just the beginning. The 26-year-old CEO and co-founder of the home decor tool Hutch (it mixes 3D technology with online shopping to let you virtually decorate your space) took the company from a college side hustle to business venture with over $17 million in funding. All in just six short years. And the secret to her success? The failures along the way.

"Fail fast, fix fast, and learn fast."

Fischel-Bock and her co-founders were interior design students at George Washington University with friends constantly calling them for home décor guidance. “It seemed crazy that no one knew how to buy furniture. They didn't know where to go. They didn't know what to buy or what would look good in their space," Fischel-Bock says.

So, Fischel-Bock and her friends put together an executive summary and entered a business line competition at their school and were immediately denied. That was their first failure. “There's nothing very calm about the journey and you have to accept the failure and make it part of the process. Others might have said, 'Okay, well, I guess I'm not moving forward.' But that's not what happened to us," she recalls. “We considered the executive summary we put together as our first step, and we just kept going on our journey. We built a website, did things for free and tested out our whole concept."

“The only thing you can count on is change"

Fischel-Bock readily admits that the only constant over the past six years is the rapid amount of change that's taken place. Something Fischel-Bock has embraced rather than resist. “Today, I take solace in counting on change because you know what? Things are going to change no matter what—so just go with the flow," Fischel-Bock says. “If it's not going well, you know it's going to go better. If it's going well, don't get an ego because it can go back and become bad again."

In college, after a lot of sweat and sleepless nights, the business made almost one million in revenue. Fischel-Bock worked as a cocktail waitress until 2 am on Friday nights and then was up at 7 am to do installs. “There were a couple of major breakdowns. My roommate was picking me up off the floor—but we were doing it with each other and that was huge," she recalls. “We fought but we had a support system with each other. And we just felt so strongly about what we were doing."

“There were a couple of major breakdowns. My roommate was picking me up off the floor—but we were doing it with each other and that was huge," she recalls. “We fought but we had a support system with each other. And we just felt so strongly about what we were doing."

After graduation, Fischel-Bock and her co-founders knew they couldn't abandon all their hard work. So, they went to the mecca for entrepreneurs—Shark Tank. Even though they received an offer from Barbara Corcoran and accepted—the partnership ultimately did not come to fruition. “It's a handshake deal on the show and then you start to the due diligence. That's when we realized the terms weren't that great. We were asking for $100,000 for 33 percent of our company and that was crazy. We raised 17M for similar terms," says Fischel-Bock. Even though Fischel-Bock would have liked Corcoran as a mentor, the deal wasn't meant to be.

Being on Shark Tank, however, was instrumental in Hutch's growth. Watching the show that night was Sean Rad, founder of Tinder, and he changed everything. “Connecting with him was the only good thing that came of Shark Tank. He's a fan of the show and always reaching out to companies he thinks are interesting," says Fischel-Bock. “He actually had thought of some furniture ideas before launching Tinder. He reached out and we really clicked."

"If you take a bunch of rocks and put them in a tumbler overnight—they'll make a ton of sound. But in the morning, you'll open it up and they'll be smooth stone."

Sean offered up the money and resources Hutch needed to get to the next level. He also brought Fischel-Bock and her team out to LA (where they're now based) and introduced them to key business players. But, Rad also reinforced to Fischel-Bock why a mentor is so valuable. “I've always sought out advice from people who've done anything before me. I don't have that ego that wants to do things my way," says Fischel-Bock. “People love giving advice. I know now I will always be available to anyone who wants mine.

Fischel-Bock loves that parable famously told by Apple founder Steve Jobs because it's inspired the way she tries to lead her company. The story is a metaphor for a team that's working really hard on something they're passionate about. Yet, that team bumps up against each other and has arguments. Even so, they're still working together to polish each other and polish their ideas. The result? These beautiful stones.

“At Hutch, we're very opinionated, and push each other—but in the end, hopefully, we're making the right choices," Fischel-Bock says. As a boss, she prefers to be collaborative. She doesn't want to lead by dictating her vision and giving everyone no choice but to see it through. “Spencer Rascoff, the CEO of Zillow, says being a boss means 'finding people to empower that do things better than you do,'" says she says. “That's really changed my perspective on how to hold my vision and keep everyone in the same direction—yet empowering those who might make a better decision than me to make it."

“Just fake it"

Here's a secret about being a massive success story at just 26-years-old: “Everyone acts confident, but no one really knows what they're doing," Fischel-Bock says. “That's what I've learned by meeting these larger than life entrepreneurs—they're all human, they all don't know everything, and you're probably at par." Project confidence until it catches up and you really start feeling that way. Fischel-Bock wants to empower women to embrace their inner confidence. She wants women to stop second-guessing their decisions or doubting their abilities—something she rarely sees men do. “It holds you back and becomes emotionally damaging," she says. “I spent so long questioning if I wasn't good enough and wondering if there were others who could do it better. But, as I get older, that's gone away and I get more confident."


This piece was originally published in May 2019.

Time-Saving Hacks That Will Help You Focus More on Growing Your Brand

Whether it's your child or your brand, there is nothing quite like the excitement you get when you see the fruits of your efforts grow. In the face of aversion, you must remain cool-minded and adaptable to remain effective. This can be quite stressful, and every minute counts. Alone, the responsibility can be overwhelming - wouldn't it be nice if things just ran themselves sometimes? Especially those things that we do mindlessly all the time, and seem to take up most of our time?

When you start a business, you soon come to realize that in order to grow your brand, you need to be extremely organized. And to be efficiently organized, it is imperative that you master the art of managing your time. The saying 'time is money' rings true when it comes to growth. This is why we're going to provide you with helpful tips that will allow you to save time so you can focus on growing your brand.

Use the Right Tools

Technology has changed the way we conduct our business with each other. Today, more than ever before, we have access to data which gives us clearer insight and vision, as well as better tools for productivity. However, as we all know, this is all conditional to your intent. As much as a smartphone can be a tool for productivity, it can also be a fantastic source of distraction and procrastination, which is directly detrimental to said productivity. Automation is an advantage that is available to almost everyone today when it would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.

Get Connected

When a brand is still young, the team is still close-knit and there isn't too much coordination necessary when it comes to keeping up to date and on top of work. Chat groups and video calls can do, as well as simple task-managing apps. But as you grow, your workflow becomes more complex and the volume of data generated by your company will very quickly become a logistical nightmare.

Telltale signs of data overwhelming are endless excel sheets, frantic Post-it notes all around the (real or digital) office, and relying on the consumer rather than business-oriented data storage and communications solutions. These have their limits, and investing in a holistic company-wide system will not be a waste.

Work More Effectively

Your workflow can be simplified into smaller tasks which follow each other in a sequence, which can have conditional elements to it. That's where automation comes in. If you can draw it in a flowchart, you can automate it. Tasks that would have taken days can be outsourced to a machine that will not only perform but also learn in the process.

There is now a myriad of online services for freelancers which essentially give them the productivity potential of a small firm. We're now at the point where bots at https://www.hellobonsai.com/contract-templates can generate custom templates for the documents your brand needs, replacing the need for a legal consultant to intervene. You just need to know what you want to automate, and what you want to make out of it. If you create a logical process from the inception of your brand, then the automation will be seamless, as all you will need to do is add more tasks.

Be Mobile and Flexible

Most of your coworkers and clients will probably already have a smartphone, or will soon. It is also very likely that beyond using these for leisure and social activities, they use them for work. It is now normal to switch off the heating in that apartment you've been renting out while you are on holiday because your AirBNB tenants are overusing it. Or to track the status of your latest food delivery while you are sitting on the toilet.

Consumers today are not only constantly on the move, but they are also increasingly data-focused. They will be looking for results and have the capabilities they need to research, analyze, and calculate what they deem necessary to ensure they will be making the right decision. They thus also expect the same in return, in the form of bespoke customer service that is both intelligent and responsive.

Simplify

Data is everywhere and is relatively easy to obtain. In a single click, you can generate a web analysis that will reveal more information about your blog or website than your doctor will ever tell you about your own body. Before diving into this ocean of data, take time to identify what is really important to you. Brainstorming is a great tool to really identify and prioritize what you and your team should be focusing on first. If you try to wage war on all fronts, then the chances of winning are slim.

With the right tools and the right method, you can save yourself quite a considerable amount of time. With both the agility and flexibility that data managing and automation software brings to the table, you will see an increase in your productivity. Careful planning is key, and if you focus on streamlining your workflow, you will be able to take your brand to the next level.