Interviewed by Jess Erickson
What's your background?
I was born in Germany and grew up in the U.S., and so have always been a part of two pretty distinct cultures. My father's side of the family is from Montana (think cowboys, ranches, and mountains), and my mother's side is from a small town outside of Düsseldorf (think craftsmanship, traditional bakeries, and beautiful flat bike paths). I live in NYC.
Personally and professionally, I've always been fascinated by unique perspectives and the sharing of knowledge. While at NYU and studying cross-cultural communication back in 2003, I curated and sold the work of a group of global artisans for my first startup The Culture Collective. After grad school at the Freie Universität Berlin, I worked in marketing and consumer insights for clients like the Swiss government and Nike. At the same time, I founded another startup called PenTales together with my close friend Stephanie Hodges. Our goal was to provide a global platform for people's stories, and we ended up in 27 cities around the world (including in Berlin!).
About two years ago, I came up with the idea for my current startup Kabinet. I was looking for a new facial moisturizer and couldn't find an online recommendation that I felt was personalized enough. I ended up asking all of my friends what they used, got a great recommendation from my friend Nadia, and realized that this process would be much more useful if digitized. So my partner Gabriel Winer (a digital designer and NYU digital media professor) and I decided to build a social recommendations platform that would help people source unbiased, trusted product recommendations from their peers. We launched Kabinet's private beta a few months ago, and are excited to continue growing.
Please walk me through your day, what does the CEO of Kabinet do?
Every day is a bit unique, because every day there are so many new challenges. Earlier this year, I was making a lot of MVP product decisions and performing early user testing. Then I started to build our team, which required a lot of research and getting to know people. Then I started to go into fundraising, making pitch decks and financial models. Now, I'm focused on marketing and creative content, so my day is spent corresponding with lots of writers, photographers, and brand partners. I usually have a few meetings around Soho, some phone calls and tons of emails, and often a Meetup event or dinner in the evening. Bottom line, I learn something new every single day and love meeting and working with so many amazing people.
Can you see yourself in ten years doing the same thing you do now?
Yes! But on a very global scale. I want Kabinet to be the place everyone in the world goes to for their wellness & personal care needs.
You were recently visiting Berlin, what was your impression of the tech startup hub?
I absolutely love Berlin. I was lucky enough to live there on and off from 2004 - 08, while I was in grad school at the Freie Uni. The attention to detail and the quality of life in Berlin is unbeatable, but what I found frustrating at the time was the lack of economic activity. That has rapidly changed over the last few years - I am stunned and amazed by the startup scene and the entrepreneurial mindset in Berlin these days.
What's it like founding a company in NYC?
To be honest - not as difficult as you would think. When you come up with an idea, people support you, help connect you with other people, and before you know it you have something going. This city is built around business, so you become energized by everything going on around you. That's not to say that keeping something going doesn't take huge amounts of focus, energy, support, and of course financial resources.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Make a to-do list, and keep going.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last year?
To make a to-do list, and to keep going.
And what are your plans for the future?
To keep going :) Specifically, to make Kabinet a household name synonymous with wellness & personal care. I want to keep growing our great team (with our two developers, we have a 100% female tech team so far!) and to keep expanding our user base. Also, I'd love to set up a European HQ in Berlin ;)
If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?
I would find the time to learn how to code.
Any advice for Berlin's women?
You have such a wealth of knowledge available to you in Berlin - from the museums, universities, and organizations to your friends. This is an amazing foundation for whatever you want to build.