Michelle Bacharach is Co-Founder & CEO of FINDMINE. As a product and strategy expert, Michelle is experienced in growing startups and large media companies by launching apps and websites to millions of people, putting together joint ventures, and conceiving of new products. (from LinkedIn)
FINDMINE automates and scales the process of creating complete outfits for fashion retailers which saves them time, increases their revenue and helps them engage with customers more effectively.
Interview by Neda Shishmanova and Maya Nikolova.
Please introduce yourself and tell us more about your work and your company.
I am the co-founder and the CEO of a company called FINDMINE. We are an automation platform for retail. Our technology takes every product that a retailer has (let’s say in fashion) and we organise those into complete outfits to guide the customer how to wear what they are buying. We also just started doing this in home furniture and décor.
The whole point is that customers buy three times more when they understand what they are buying but the way retailers guide customers is usually manual. We automate the process, so they can do it more frequently and gain 4-9% additional revenue.
Describe yourself in a few words.
Tenacious. Creative. Intense. Passionate. Also, impatient. I notice the little details that are frustrating about processes we all have to deal with. This is the reason I started my company. I was impatient with the fact that I had to, for example, buy the skirt and figure the whole outfit later on by myself, taking so much of my time.
Describe your company in 5 words.
Authentic. Perfomate (kind of a made-up word). Reliable. Talented. Scalable.
What inspires you?
I get inspiration from anywhere! For my company specifically, since we work with shoppers and retailers, I get inspiration from being a consumer myself and noticing consumer experiences. Shopping, being at the grocery store, getting an e-mail from a brand, seeing a post on social media or an ad… I think a lot of my ideas come from noticing the way the world works and the way I experience it. Living as a user or a consumer, or just a human in the world.
Is there a book that pops up in your mind when you hear the word “creativity”?
“Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The author is a psychologist and a researcher. The book is about that feeling you get when you are “in the zone” and how it applies to creativity and ideas. I think it is awesome.
What would you say to your past self from nine years ago, when the idea of your business was just born?
Know it is going to change a lot and be okay with that. I didn’t start the company nine years ago, it was just the spark of the idea about it. It took three and a half years to figure out what the company would be and launch it. I was doing a whole bunch of things in between like getting a graduate degree, working in a big corporation and several more. It was important to know that when the time is right there will be an opportunity. If I had forced in nine years ago when I had the initial inspiration, we would not have succeeded. Being patient (even though I am impatient) is the biggest advice I could give myself if I had to go back.
When talking about business, it is clear it includes a lot of interaction with others – colleagues, partners, companies. What would you state as key qualities for successful business relationships?
I would say authenticity. Having a real relationship (not just a transactional one) and really caring about the success of the other person is important. I always try to make connections and look out for someone if I know that they are either getting another job or looking for one. I will try to connect them with people from my network who might be able to help.
You never know who is going to move somewhere where they are going to be very helpful to you. So, if you are not helpful to them, that hurts the opportunity. More than anything, I think that nobody wants to work (laughs) – it is something we all have to do, so if we have authentic and meaningful relationships at work, then it is going to be more fun and overall better for everybody.
How does your business empower women?
Women still make 50% of the company. At one point, we were seven people in total at the company – six women and one man. We are always looking out for the best talent, regardless of gender, ethnicity or anything like that. Specifically, I think we are able to attract a lot of talented women because we already have many talented women in the company. You can see them as peers and role models. In many other cases such leadership positions are taken by men.
The other thing is that women are the dominant consumer spenders in the United States. If we are able to save them time and help them be more effective when they are buying furniture for their homes or clothes for their children, for themselves or whoever else, that is time they can use for many other things, including working on their own businesses.
What is your winning mindset when it comes to building your business?
Never giving up and keeping going to whatever extent possible. There were times when we thought that we would run out of runway for the company in terms of the funding or a certain idea was not quite working at the very early stages, as there were a bunch of structural obstacles. So instead of giving up, we should find a way to say “OK, how can we remove these obstacles? Should we change something about what we are doing?” and then do another experiment. Not giving up is super important but you also shouldn’t obsess over the original thing that you have started working on – the idea is to be flexible. The combination of persistence and flexibility are the recipe for me.
What are your top 3 healthiest mental habits you have ever developed?
I am not super great at this! (laughs) I could probably do a lot more to reduce stress. But I do yoga which is very helpful. I force myself to take breaks from work – for example, this weekend I went out of town with some friends and I didn’t do any work at all, even though I probably had a whole weekend’s worth of work to do. Just forcing myself to stop and do something else has really helped me.
We also have a culture at the workplace letting you work wherever and whenever as long as you get work done. For example, we have people who go on vacation for a month, but they bring their laptop and get work done 8 or 12 hours a day. However, they choose to do it from somewhere else in the world. We also have people who leave early to take care of kids and they usually log on for extra time here and there to get done what needs to be done. And if there are people who are working on a huge project and they have just finished it, then they can leave in the middle of the day. They should feel really good about themselves and not guilty that they are not in the office from 9 am to 7 pm. I think that is very helpful to your mental health – being more in control of your own schedule.
What would you tell all of our GLOW girls who are currently starting new journeys in their lives, such as entering higher education or developing a business?
I would say enjoy it! I know it feels really scary in the beginning but there is probably not a day that goes by that I would not trade places with someone who is just starting their company. It is super new, early, exciting and scary. For those who are just starting graduate school or college – I think that beginning phase is so full of possibilities, so just try and remember that instead of being daunted by the anxiety of doing something new.