Honeyfund CEO And Co-Founder Sara Margulis

You’re organizing your aspiration marriage ceremony and an even dreamier honeymoon. When you and your companion set out to populate your marriage ceremony registry, you understand you presently have all the dishes, smaller appliances, and cocktail shakers you want – right after all, you’re both of those adults. What you definitely require is some time away collectively to launch your life in a unforgettable manner.

That is what happened to Sara Margulis and her fiancé Josh when they resolved to request their wedding friends to support underwrite their honeymoon in lieu of presents. They established their very own business to enable other individuals do the exact, and now, Honeyfund is the most reliable money gifting site. The platform has allowed 6 million givers to fund more than $640 million in items for far more than just one million couples. I spoke with Sara about shifting professions from advertising to tech get started-up, the Shark Tank effect, putting out on her possess, and balancing family life with running her very own enterprise.

Shelley Zalis: You previously worked as the associate director of marketing at Golden Gate College. How did you determine to make a vocation switch and launch your personal organization at Honeyfund? What was your lightbulb moment?

Sara Margulis: Honeyfund’s co-founder and I were engaged to be married and arranging our personal wedding ceremony, and we experienced this desire of honeymooning someplace unique and significantly absent like Fiji to get away from the worry of two complete-time positions. But we didn’t have the money immediately after paying out for our own marriage. So in its place of registering solely for common housewares, we designed a makeshift want checklist for the costs connected with our Fiji honeymoon – items like excursions, vacation resort nights, island hopping flights, etc. Our wedding day friends overwhelmed us with more than $5,000 in contributions, but extra importantly, they loved the concept. They questioned us to make anything like it for other couples. Which is how Honeyfund was born.

I experienced just graduated with an MBA in marketing and my co-founder is a program engineer. I experienced been operating at Golden Gate University on marketing initiatives these as the university’s new website, e-mail marketing and advertising systems, and a CRM implementation. We took the plan and enthusiasm from our very own marriage company, and all that specialist background, and established and launched Honeyfund.com from our sofa.

Zalis: How a lot prior encounter, if any, did you have in the startup business prior to launching Honeyfund? How did your time on Shark Tank catapult your journey?

Margulis: We have been in San Francisco in the early 2000s when the technological know-how startup increase was happening all about us. We had friends at Twitter when it first launched, for instance. Neither of us genuinely experienced any direct working experience in startups, but we could build and take care of tasks. And we both equally experienced a desire of getting fiscally impartial and acquiring a adaptable routine so we could be there for our potential young children.

In 2013 we had been living that desire: the company was supporting our loved ones and we experienced all the adaptability we envisioned. We experienced purchased our desire house and we had two wholesome kids who have been escalating up in an idyllic city in Sonoma County, California.

When Shark Tank identified as, we experienced to make a challenging conclusion – do we expand further than our life style business enterprise and enter the environment of a quick-expanding startup? Taking on expense cash, understanding particularly how we desired to deploy it, realizing how to unlock the following period of growth – these have been all unfamiliar to us. Commencing some thing is quite diverse from expanding it.

Nevertheless, we felt it was the proper issue to do for the Honeyfund manufacturer and our member group. So we applied for the present and received forged. Our episode aired in Oct 2013 and it was a strike! Our site crashed from all the traffic. We were so thrilled to have the attention on the Honeyfund brand name. We understood that the moment folks experienced heard of Honeyfund they beloved the idea. So our Shark Tank look and the deal with Kevin O’Leary introduced us onto the countrywide stage. This drove a good deal extra targeted visitors and associates, but it also introduced us the notoriety to kind substantial-stage partnerships, this kind of as our registry integration with Target.

Zalis: What are the rewards and drawbacks that arrive with a occupation transition and branching out on your possess to launch a company?

Margulis: We were exceptionally lucky that Honeyfund was well received and grew by itself to the position that we were being in a position to make a superior dwelling prior to staying on Shark Tank. That was section just one of the changeover from performing for anyone else to performing for ourselves. It was what we experienced dreamed of. So we felt we were taking pleasure in all the advantages of accomplishing our individual issue.

But the organization was escalating a lot quicker than we were being. It wanted a lot more from us. We didn’t have adequate employees to serve our couples and keep the web-site. That released us into a expansion period that was genuinely tough to master how to deal with – we did not have the expertise there. In the end immediately after a prolonged and winding street, we split up and I bought my co-founder out of the organization. So that stage of advancement arrived with a whole lot of pressure and troubles. And I felt pulled in so a lot of instructions as a mom, wife, and enterprise owner. I stopped getting care of myself and burned out. Then Covid strike and I faced yet another substantial challenge with the enterprise, this time alone at the helm. I had to get a lengthy look in the mirror and request myself if I experienced what it takes to make sure Honeyfund could endure a 90% fall in revenues and a pandemic with no conclusion in sight.

I decided to step up and do my very best to retain the firm heading for its users and staff. I invested a ton in increasing as a leader, employed a management staff to handle the progress, and clarified my job in the organization. We released a crowdfunding campaign to invite our customers and reward givers to make investments in the company’s subsequent stage of progress. And we received via! But individuals had been some of the hardest years of my existence. Being liable for a firm, a crew, and prospects – it’s a substantial load at situations.

Nonetheless the opportunity to expand and turn out to be the chief of something extraordinary will come once in a life span – so the benefits considerably outweigh the disadvantages for me. I see it as a journey and I am at any time-evolving alongside the way.

Zalis: In the past few many years, there has been an rising trend of females leaving their positions to start off their individual corporations through the Excellent Resignation. Centered on your working experience, is there a “right” time or are there excellent conditions for a job change?

Margulis: The pull in between occupation and spouse and children is so tricky. In a whole lot of techniques, a work with a selected quantity of several hours that you can go away and arrive property is so much healthier for that relatives stability and your personalized self-care than a start-up. I would say there’s no appropriate time to get started your possess factor if you are passionate about it just do it. But with this one particular caveat: gals with partners and/or children must assume extensive and difficult about the amount of time and concentration they want to be ready to give their family. And then devote what is still left to a new venture. Every person will notify you that you have to give 200% to a startup but that’s genuinely not genuine. And it will lead to burnout so fast if you are not cautious.

Rather, begin your venture with a workforce that can give their comprehensive emphasis. If you are keeping the eyesight and plans, you can and should really reserve time for self-care and your family members. I know this can be so hard to carry out, but I’m a realist so I split it down like a very simple math difficulty. I glimpse at how many several hours I have in a week and I attempt to very first prioritize my personal self-treatment, then my time with my children and husband or wife, then my get the job done priorities.

I also consider the seasonality of my small business and my children’s school. Summer is a excellent time to be able to give a minor additional to kids and a tiny much less to the small business. But if you’re setting up a business enterprise (like mine) that has large summer months requires it could be difficult. The crucial is obtaining extremely authentic with you about how a lot of hours of focus you are keen to give to a new venture.

Zalis: What tips would you give to women of all ages seeking to transform their occupation but who truly feel discouraged or unsure of the place to start off?

Margulis: I would say start out with a change towards the market or techniques you want to find out and get genuinely great at individuals when working for somebody else with regular work hrs, positive aspects, and pay. Or sign up for a volunteer group. Once you are confident in your techniques and know exactly how you will control your time and aim, then set up your new enterprise inside people parameters.