Glamhive, a three-year-old Seattle startup that rewards people with gift cards for sharing their favorite outfits online, had to get knocked down a few times before it found startup success.
Co-founder Stephanie Sprangers, who spoke today at GeekWire Startup Day, said her most important entrepreneurial lesson for new startups is that when you get knocked down, you have to get right back up again — or you’ll miss out on future opportunities to make your company a success.
GlamHive’s journey was not a startup fairytale — or at least not at the beginning. When it started fundraising in January 2014, GlamHive faced rejection after rejection from potential investors.
The company’s big break came when it received a $205,000 investment from the Seattle Angel Conference — money GlamHive won at a pitch competition.
“I thought it was a long-shot for a number of reasons, but most of all, because of how many other startups were in the running,” Sprangers said. “The competition was a nerve-wracking experience.”
Sprangers ignored the odds and gave herself one goal: to give the pitch her all and not to think about the odds. After all, she only needed one win, and one investor to believe in her vision.
GlamHive qualified for the final round. The morning before she would make her last pitch to investors, Sprangers was practicing aloud in the Olympic Sculpture Park.
“I got it really perfect and I felt ready,” she recalled. “But then I broke my concentration to read through my e-mail and found an e-mail to decline investing in GlamHive. I immediately regretted reading it because I was filled with that knocked-down feeling.”
The final round of the competition was coming up and Sprangers was feeling low, filled with insecurity about her pitch.
“So I talked to my co-founder, and we just grabbed our courage, refocused, and got back up,” she said
GlamHive’s pitch ended up winning that final round and the company received a big check from the Seattle Angels.
With that money, the company continued to successfully fundraise and has raised $946,000 since January to help grow its platform. It went on to launch a website and app to let people browse through “shoppable” photos of different outfits, viewing and purchasing the elements that they like.
When she looks back on the company’s initial struggle to attract investors, Sprangers says that pushing through was worth it.
“I had an idea I believed in so strongly that I had no choice other than to bring it to life,” she said. “When times got tough, I had to remember that. When we got knocked down, it was that dream that made me get back up again.”