Video Transcript

00:11 Melinda Emerson: You were originally the founding CEO of your company and now you're currently the Chief Marketing Officer of your company. So, can you talk to us a little bit about how you made that transition and why?

00:23 Alexis Maybank: Sure. Well, starting a business, there's some people who love every single phase. I think it's really important just to have that honest conversation with yourself, what you want for your business, what part do you really enjoy, what do you love? I never had a goal to run a public company. I never had a goal to run a 5 or 10,000 person... It's just not... I wanna be part of it but it's not what I love. I love the early stages. I love the stages where you're investing in an idea, you're watching it get off the ground, you're hiring the team, you're making something out of nothing. And so, I knew very early on that I would always gravitate to opportunities like that internally. I knew at a certain point, whether it was measured by revenues or employee count or by even how I spent my day, that I was in meetings all day just setting up processes that, that time I would know... I would have to start looking for what I would do next because I wouldn't be happy at those stages.

01:19 Maybank: So, I would encourage any small business or founder to think about what do they really love doing and then have that honest conversation now so that they know the markers of when they get there and their business history... That criteria pops up, they recognize it, and they start making the plans to backfill or bring on that type of individual that loves that next stage of growth.

01:44 Maybank: Now Heidi, one of the things that I think is critical is that your network is your net worth in business. And when you're thinking about growing a business, how critical is your network, your mentors, your advisory board, how important is all of that stuff to getting you to the next level in your business?

02:06 Heidi Messer: I think it's critical. Melinda and I were talking in the back before this started and she said, "Do you feel like you're living your dream?" And I said, "I feel like I'm the luckiest person on earth". That said, I believe you make your own luck. So, I went and still go to every networking event that I can squeeze into my schedule because you never know, that one person who's gonna say, "You know what? I know this investor who would really love your business" or, "I know this big customer that could really use what you do" or "I have this piece of advice that you've never thought of a way to grow your business", and I can't tell you how many business decisions I made based on the network of people that I had, that I went to at times I never thought I would go to them. So, I think it's critical.

02:54 Emerson: And what about for you, Alexis, how important was the network in even getting the Gilt Group started?

03:01 Maybank: I really believe... We wouldn't have gotten off the ground without it. So, the network was so critical to every element of our business. I fundamentally believe you only do as well as the people around you want to see you do. There's a certain amount you plow, you may cap in, but especially when you're getting off the ground, you're cutting every corner possible, you have to grab every low hanging fruit and leverage every relationship you can. But some things that at least I keep in mind is always do the small favors for other people because they pay back in spades. Make the introductions, remember names, remember important dates. As a leader of your business or a leader of a big group or a key function within your business, form your informal advisory board. You have investors, you have board members, but you can't go to them for all types of advice.

03:51 Maybank: You have direct employees, you have team members, you can't go to them for all bits of advice. So, in my case, I had my informal board of advisors who I went to to ask personal questions. I went to ask what to do in really tricky situations, how to have hard conversations with my board, and that was really critical in just helping me make some good decisions. Of course, we all make tons of mistakes in start-ups too, but at least some of the good decisions outweighed those and helped me get to where we are today. In addition, from a network standpoint, we launched this business with our network. We sent out invitations to 20,000 people, former colleagues, classmates, former teachers, everyone you could imagine we reached out to and said, "Please help us spread the word".

04:44 Messer: And it helped what has become a viral phenomenon where four million people now shop at Gilt, 75% of whom came through word of mouth. So, network is critical, network is important. It helps your business really get off the ground more efficiently and you cut out a lot of friction along the way too.