Jessica Mandeville Interview Part 2
Written by Anna Lempereur for Gaebler Ventures
Jessica Mandeville is the CEO of MyFashionPlate.com, a style website that allows users to stay organized with an online, interactive wardrobe. This interview discusses tips and strategies for entrepreneurs who want to be successful.
What struggles/risks did you find while putting together your business?
When I first started developing the site, I was pretty naive -- I thought that this was something I could really get up in a week or a month, and I thought I knew exactly how I wanted the site to function.
I knew the features that I wanted. I discovered rather abruptly that it requires great effort to get those features working together seamlessly. Building the mockups and creating detailed specs - these things proved to be quite a challenge, and so there has been a lot of research and a lot of trial and error. The other struggle I had was raising capital. I started developing My Fashion Plate in 2006, so encouraging investors to take the risk when there was no proven model out there was exciting and challenging.
What do you like best about being an entrepreneur?
There is definitely a feeling of accomplishment looking back at the hurdles I've overcome and the ones I know are ahead. Just knowing that I've turned one of my passions into a product that people are really responding to is extremely rewarding.
What advice do you have for future entrepreneurs? What are some things they should be prepared for/look out for/avoid?
Once my father asked me, "How do you eat an elephant?" And the answer is "One bite at a time." Starting your own business can feel tremendously overwhelming. At times I've had so much on my to-do list that I've felt paralyzed and unable to accomplish anything. By breaking down my schedule into manageable tasks and prioritizing it's become a lot easier to accomplish the larger goal. As an entrepreneur, there are weeks when you're on the highest of highs - you are productive, efficient, believe in your product and want to shout about it. There will also be equally frustrating and down times. To be an entrepreneur, you really have to believe in yourself, believe in what you're creating, and just take action.
Do you think there will be any more sites like My Fashion Plate?
Yes - In this economy, everyone's looking to get more for their money, especially when it comes to fashion. There will always be competitors, but one of the important things that I've learned is that competition is not always a bad thing. Not only is it a motivator to constantly evolve and create a better product, but it also it proves that what you're doing is viable. Everyone likes to see that - the creator of the site likes to see that, the investors like to see that, and the customers like to have options.
Where do you see yourself and your business 10 years from now?
It's difficult to know to where we will be in ten years. The nature of a start up is that the product roadmap typically changes month by month based on the needs and requests of our customers. Our users will shape the direction we will take with the site - and letting them do that is crucial for success. At this point we are poised for success over the next several years and will continue to add the most value-driven features to enhance our offering over time!
Anna Lempereur is a freelance writer interested in writing about small business. She is currently a Journalism major at the University of Albany in New York.
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