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Editor’s Note: In the Women Entrepreneur series Mentor Moments, female founders sit down to chat with their own mentors (and us!) about how and why the relationship developed, and the lasting impact it’s had on their careers.
When sisters Bunny and Taran Ghatrora set out to build Blume, a company that provides self-care and period products with a focus on reaching Gen Z buyers, they were lucky enough to have a great support system of advisors and mentors, many of whom they met through an accelerator hosted by Hootsite as well as the 500 Startups network.
As the company grew and their needs changed, the co-founders were eager to connect with an experienced founder who could help them take their company to the next level. When a mutual friend introduced them to Armando Biondi, the global head of growth operations at Hootsuite (and the co-founder of AdEspresso), they found their answer. He’s since helped them through fundraising, a rebrand and figuring out their future needs.
Women Entrepreneur: How did you first connect with Armando?
Taran Ghatrora: We’re botha part of the 500 Startups network, but we met when another founder from Armando’s past connected us, and he started meeting with us to give advice and help with our pitch.
RELATED: How This Handbag Founder’s Husband (and Mentor) Helps Her Communicate Her Creative Vision. WE: What specifically were you hoping to learn from Armando when you first started looking to him for advice?
Armando Biondi: Taran and Bunny came highly recommended by a friend of mine. We started engaging and looking at the business. They were fundraising at the time, so they wanted to learn more about the tips and tricks and the things that make investors tick. And on my side, I was curious to learn more about their business and the potential there.
He Is a Champion of Women’ Says This Female CEO of a Digital Retailer About Her Mentor and Co-Founder. WE: Why did you decide to rebrand?
TG: We were looking for people that were operators and executors. Armando had built his business from the ground up and really knows how to get a company to a point where it’s sustainable and can actually survive. And early on, we really needed insight on fundraising and positioning. Right when we met him, we had decided to rebrand. So a lot of our focus was on that — the decision to nix our previous brand completely and invest in the new one was big. So, it was a lot of honing our fundraising pitch and our deck.
TG: We used to be called Ellebox, and we didn’t have any of our own products. We sent a bundle, monthly, featuring third-party discovery products, the way Birchbox does. But we decided to vertically integrate and have our own products and focus more on reaching Generation Z. Armando had advised us that all successful companies have a very unique, specific point of view. And that tied in with our commitment to Gen Z and their shopping habits.
RELATED: WE: Have you had other close advisors as you built the brand? What’s made your relationship with Armando stand out? Oscar-Nominated Producer Kimberly Steward Shares Why Her Mentor Is ‘Her Emergency Button’. WE: Did you run into any challenges raising capital as female founders launching a female-centric company?
AB: With peer-to-peer relationships, it’s so important to have someone to speak to that went through the same hurdles and can actually answer questions and has done the work before. How do you make decisions? How do you allocate time and money? Those are some of the big, universal problems. Having someone to speak to can help bridge the gap and get you closer to where you want to be.
TG: We’ve had a lot of great mentors. When we started out early on, we had different mentors from an accelerator we participated in at Hootsuite, and they were amazing, especially at the early stages. But in terms of operational skills, we did, in a sense, outgrow that mentorship. Which is why at this point, working with Armando is great, because he’s able to help us get to the next level. Being able to have that consistency and staying on track is so important. So much about business is consistency, and Armando has believed in our business since he met us.
TG: The majority of investors were male, and since we’re solving a problem that is inherently female, it can be hard to get people excited. We had some investors say they only invested in spaces they understood, or others would say they wanted to ask their wives about our pitch before making a decision.
AB: A big part of the founder’s journey is just fighting and working to get people to listen to you and constantly having to prove value. It’s so common to feel alone, and not all founders realize that. Having someone provide that emotional support and reassure you that the challenges you’re facing are very common is valuable. But the faster you move through them, the more you can accelerate growth and realize the potential that you see.
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