Seven Question Series for a Startup Founder: Divya Gugnani, Send the Trend
The New York Times writes about “Sites That Send Shoppers What They Might Like” today and features the proliferation of e-commerce sites like JewelMint, ShoeDazzle, and a New York-based fashion startup that is the topic of today’s Seven Question Series: Send the Trend.
Send the Trend, founded in late 2010, is a an e-commerce site for fashion accessories such as earrings, scarves, necklaces, sunglasses and bracelets. Users take a short and fun Style Survey and each month, the Send the Trend team personally selects an accessory for the user and has it sent – the discovery process of finding the season’s best styles is simplified with Send the Trend, and all items on the site are $29.95, no matter what. Send the Trend’s founders are Divya Gugnani, Christian Siriano (yes, the designer from Project Runway) and Mariah Chase. Divya and the Send the Trend team are announcing some big news on Monday: they have raised $3 million from Battery Ventures and other angel investors. So, it is definitely perfect timing that Divya is featured on Girls in Tech this week. Check out and enjoy this week’s Seven Questions, answered by a truly dynamic and brilliant entrepreneur.
1. Who or what initially inspired you to start Send the Trend?
DG: I was a venture capitalist before I turned into an entrepreneur. When I worked as a VC, I could shop at high-end departments stores and enjoy personalized service. When I launched my own business I said hello to 20-hour workdays filled with passion and progress and said goodbye to a paycheck. Hence, I found myself trying to update my look on a budget each season. I found accessories to be the perfect fix but value-price retailers didn’t offer any personalization. I launched Send the Trend with two co-founders, Christian and Mariah, to provide a curated selection of fashion accessories for women to update their look without breaking the bank.
2. If the name “Send The Trend” was taken, what would alternative name would you give your startup?
DG: Accessorize Yourself! I like Send the Trend because it allows for category expansion beyond accessories. Right now we offer fashion jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, hair accessories and umbrellas. We will continue to grow our product mix to keep our customers coming back to Send the Trend for all their fashion needs and wants.
3. How would you describe your management style? Has it changed since you became an entrepreneur?
DG: Collaborative. A good CEO needs to be a true listener. I listen and believe that the strong talent we’ve recruited at Send the Trend deserves a voice when it comes to setting our strategy and executing. I’ve always embraced teamwork but since I’ve become an entrepreneur I’ve learned to lead with a solid emphasis on collaborative decision-making. I guess my first job at Goldman Sachs rubbed off on me. They always used to say “there’s no I in Goldman Sachs.”
4. What is one piece of advice you would give yourself if you could go back in time five years ago?
DG: Think “who” not “what.” When I started Behind the Burner I focused my energy on what we were doing not who we were hiring. With Send the Trend I took an entirely different approach. I’ve been focused on talent and the “who” part of our organization. It’s these smart people who then get to figure out “what” to do
5. What trends in social media are you most excited about?
1. Location-based networking
2. Enhanced mobile engagement
3. Consolidation of social media access so you don’t have to log on to five different accounts!
6. What are the tech buzzwords you are already hearing for 2011?
DG: User Engagement, Crowdsourcing (an oldie but it’s not going out of style anytime soon), Social Media Blackmail – when customers threaten to post their bad customer service experience on their social media outlets unless you credit/refund/or give them free stuff
7. What is a book that you would recommend to women in the technology and startup community?
DG: Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup by David Cohen and Brad Feld
WYR: Would you rather: be forced to eat the same thing everyday OR Be forced to wear the same thing everyday? (clean clothes, but the same thing)
DG: I would rather eat the same thing every day- I can live on greek yogurt & berries with a little honey. However, I can’t live with a uniform! Fashion is an expression of ourselves and who wants to sacrifice that?!