Environmentally-friendly entrepreneurship and the future of direct-to-consumer with Sarah Paiji Yoo
Oct. 8, 2019, 9 p.m.
Abadesi is joined on this episode by Sarah Paiji Yoo. She is the founder of Blueland, a direct-to-consumer company that sells environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies. She formerly founded and sold Snapette, a mobile platform for local platform shopping.
In this episode they talk about...
Her extensive entrepreneurial journey
“We ended up launching one business per year for the next four years, which was crazy.”
Sarah was a successful founder before she started Blueland. When she first switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone, she realized the power of the platform and launched a company called Snapette, which she later sold. Later, she started a startup studio and churned out a number of different direct-to-consumer businesses in a variety of spaces: luxury footwear, beauty, fashion, and even coffee.
How she convinced investors of the promise of Blueland
“At first our deck opened with the environmental story. It led with our mission to eliminate single-use plastic packaging. We realized for a subset of investors that didn’t really resonate. We changed our deck to emphasize the business case but I realized that I wasn’t finding investors whose values aligned with ours, so I ended up switching the format back.”
Sarah recounts her fundraising journey for Blueland and why she went with a deck that didn’t necessarily resonate with all investors. Since “you can divorce your husband, but you can’t divorce your investors,” she wanted to make sure that her investors and board members were aligned with the values-driven approach to business that Sarah was taking. She also points out that their environmentally-friendly business model also has real financial benefits, with tablets that are about thirty times lighter than traditional cleaners and thus are much less costly to ship.
The future of sustainable direct-to-consumer products and companies
Sarah talks about the importance of transparency in direct-to-consumer, and particularly in companies that are working in sustainability. She points out that Millennials and Gen Z are eager to support companies that have similar values to them. According to her research, there are many more people than you might think who derive great satisfaction from buying environmentally-friendly products, even if it means more time and effort investment by the end consumer.
Managing a fast-growing team at a scaling company
She says that hiring always has to be the top priority as a founder and that she reminds herself of that every single day. She explains who she hired first when she was starting the company and what qualities she looked for in them. Sarah says that it’s always a risk hiring someone at a startup who has come from a big company because of the risk of a culture clash.
She also talks about the importance of making sure that your employees unplug to prevent burnout, because the high-performing Type A personalities that are naturally drawn to a startup have a propensity to work themselves exceptionally hard, even if there is no pressure for them to do so.
What’s in her “resiliency toolkit”
“Becoming a mom has become an incredible forcing mechanism for work-life balance. It’s really helped me carve out really dedicated pieces of time where I can be 100% present with my family.”
Sarah gives a rundown of what a typical day looks like at her company and explains how the birth of her son was an important turning point in her thinking about work-life balance. She says that it’s important to be disconnected from work for family time and how she makes sure that all her team members are on the same page about when she will or won’t be online.
Of course, she also tells us what some of her favorite products are and why she loves them.
Companies and Products Mentioned In This Episode
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