“Surround Yourself With People Who Want To See You Succeed And Then LISTEN” 5 Startup Tips With Estee Goldschmidt
“Find your pillars of strengths: your Kunals, your Ahuvas and your Bills. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed and then LISTEN. Even if it’s not what you want to hear all the time.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Estee Goldschmidt, co-founder & CEO of ShopDrop App, the ultimate GPS to NY sample sales. Thanks to the app, thousands of fashionistas wear designer clothes without breaking the bank.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in Moscow and earned my MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business. When working at Estee Lauder, I struggled to dress in designer clothes while on an Associate salary. After discovering my first sample sale, where I bought $2,000 worth of Marc Jacobs items for $200, I got involved with ShopDrop — a single easy-to-use app to answer every sample sale need. When I started working on the app in December 2016 with her co-founder Bill, there were no active users. Six months later, there were 1,000 active users obsessing over every sale.
The idea for ShopDrop was born after I realized that there’s no easy way to find out about sample sales and pop-ups. Fashionistas had to follow a number of bloggers, sites and have personal relationships to get into these events. The goal of the app was to simplify and democratize the entire process.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
This one is tough, because the funniest stories are often offensive to someone. I’ll tell you this story. One of the first sales we ran was a Carolina Herrera sample sale in collaboration with Bottomless Closet. As my background is entirely corporate, I had no idea on how to be an effective salesperson.
After trying on a few dresses, one customer asked me which of two gowns looked better on her. As I was about to tell her which gown seemed more practical, another woman standing in line who ran her own store for years burst into the conversation: ‘Are you crazy? At this price you take both and shut up!’ Needless to say, I was speechless, but the customer took both dresses and was thrilled.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The piece that makes ShopDrop stand out from all the other blogs and sites (aside from the fact that we have the most comprehensive listing and daily coverage from sales) is the fact that the pinnacle of our business is the shopper. For everyone else in the industry, take the different sample sale hosts for example, the real client is the brand. Therefore, the shopper is relegated to the last place and is offered an experience that’s often so degrading that the person stops shopping there despite the huge savings.
We are all about listening to our customers, understanding what they want, giving them a voice. Our social media and app has hundreds of daily messages back and forth, where shoppers ask each other questions, leave reviews and connect with each other. Ultimately, the ShopDrop consumer is very smart and discerning — she does a ton of research and reading before spending any money. The ShopDrop platform is the perfect place for her to get all that information.
The funny anecdote is from one of the VIP sample sale events we ran. A woman walked in and approached me seeming very distraught. I asked her if there was anything I can do to help her. ‘My friends,’ she said in anger ‘knew about ShopDrop. They knew about it and didn’t tell me!’ Ultimately, that story encapsulates what we’re about. If you care about your friends and want them to have the best deals, the right thing to do is share the app.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Every step along the way, there were individuals outside of ShopDrop who gave selflessly of their time and kindness, and I am eternally grateful. The list includes Kunal, who took us under his wing from the first moment and was a calming and rational voice during any crisis; Terry, who spent hours helping us figure out an SEO and advertising strategy; Brian who gave us all of his FB advertising credit month after month; Kristin, who was brutally honest in her critique and recommendations. The list goes on and on.
The person without whom ShopDrop wouldn’t be where it is though is my husband, Arven. I graduated from business school with a financially lucrative offer that would have provided a lot of stability. Making the choice to instead pursue ShopDrop without any sense of financial security was difficult. Arven looked me in the eyes and told me he believed in us, our team, and was willing to take on the burden.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Ummm, yes. There is a passage in the Talmud that mandates people to greet others with a ‘beautiful face’ because every human is part of the larger world and is required to make it a more pleasant environment. By enabling thousands of women and men to afford luxury items that make them look beautiful and feel like a million dollars, we are making the world a more pleasant place to live in. So yes, 100%.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
Probably The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It must have been the combination of age and content — at 18 I was so impressionable. The book represented how utter rebellion and independent thought lead to the greatest types of innovation. In a way, that’s why ShopDrop wasn’t created by people who were born and raised going to sample sales — they didn’t feel the pain points like someone from the outside. And in terms of rebellion, Bill, Ahuva, Cristina and I are trying to shift a behemoth industry that barely shifted since the 1980s. It’s a fight every step of the way, but as our users remind us daily, it’s worth it.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I’m only including 3 but I think they are good. :-)
- Find your pillars of strengths: your Kunals, your Ahuvas and your Bills. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed and then LISTEN. Even if it’s not what you want to hear all the time.
- Keep your eyes wide open. Most people are well-intentioned, but there are too many who will screw you over at the first opportunity. Make sure you have your contracts signed, agreements clarified and propositions secured.
- Don’t be afraid to give up on an idea. If you tried something and it didn’t work, cut your losses, learn your lessons and MOVE ON. Just because you spent two months working on a feature, doesn’t mean it’s worth keeping.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
The person at the top of my current stalking hit list is Joanna Wilson, founder of Gotham Gal. She’s a champion of female entrepreneurs, has an awesome podcast for retail startups — and should really be talking to us :)
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
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If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.