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Posted Under: Entrepreneurship, Our Heroes

O Canada… O Canada… Oh no, no, I’m not here to sing the Canadian anthem, it’s just to welcome our next guest in the “Our Heroes” series, Eden Godsoe who is from Canada. So, today we will find out what happens when a Stanford Grad and a mom of two who had a successful corporate career at big corporations doing all the big things, decided to do her OWN big thing.  Well, read on for all the big things that she and I talked about…

DD: Who are you and what kind of corporate job were you at?

EG: I am a married mother of two who recently added entrepreneur to her resume.  I am originally from Toronto, Canada but now reside in San Francisco.  I moved to the Bay Area to get my MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business but it is my husband (a Bay Area native) who kept me out here.  Friends and colleagues would say I embody the “work hard, play hard” motto.  I have always been very driven and ambitious in my career but I have many outside interests that I am passionate about including sports (I have run the NYC Marathon and done the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon), travel (I have been to 40+ countries including lengthy visits to places like Syria, Jordan, Bolivia, Panama, Thailand and Vietnam) and playing cards (I won Comcast’s first poker tournament as the only woman against 50 men)!

Prior to starting SkinnyScoop, I was with Comcast for 6 years where I ran a 150-person sales, marketing and customer service team in the Bay Area.  Before that, I ran product marketing and development at Covad Communications.  Earlier in my career I worked in NYC for Morgan Stanley’s MandA group.  In a nutshell, most of my career has been spent at large companies running big teams and managing very big budgets.  However I have always been a risk-taker and found ways to be entrepreneurial in those roles.

DD: What made you leave the job? When did you realize that you wanted to be an entrepreneur and why?

EG: SkinnyScoop was really born out of my friendship with fellow mom (and Stanford classmate) Erin Crocker.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I had hundreds of questions.  Looking online I found all sorts of editorials on the subject but they often felt very PC (and funnily enough were often written or edited by men or women who didn’t even have kids).  I also ran into many blogs written by other moms but these were women I didn’t know and who often had very different backgrounds from me. At the same time, my friend Erin had been busy “polling” all her friends as well as friends of friends on all sorts of baby/mom-related topics from product recommendations to sleep schedules to childcare options.  She put these “surveys” into spreadsheets or other documents that would circulate far and wide.  I latched onto these documents and made many decisions based on her culled research.

One evening over a glass of wine, Erin and I discussed the mom space and agreed that there had to be a better way for us women to do market research and get vetted, actionable information.  Erin (the go-to mom) wanted to see that her content was valued; she wanted some recognition for being a mom maven.  I (the get-from mom) wanted a simple, private way to survey my friends or other women so I could make quick decisions and get a sanity check on my parenting.  SkinnyScoop was born.

DD: What did you do to break the corporate jail? How did you prepare yourself for the employee to entrepreneur transition?

EG: After my initial idea to start SkinnyScoop, I spent another 3-4 months at my job with Comcast in order to flush out the idea further.  I hate to admit it but I was fairly adept at my job by then so I was able to spend much of the day working on SkinnyScoop.  That flushing out included establishing the LLC and self-funding it with some seed money. It also consisted of specking out the product/site, writing a draft business plan, creating a budget/PandL and forming an Advisory Board.

Once I gave notice at Comcast, there were another 3 months of hiring contractors and developing the site as well as fundraising before we launched in late 2009.  Until recently, it was just I along with Erin (my co-founder who is only part-time).  I worked out of a home office but was constantly on the road talking to other entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, anyone really.  It can get lonely in a solo office!  Given my MBA along with my fairly diverse work background (finance, sales, marketing, customer service, product marketing, etc) I never felt I lacked the skills to start the business.  I was also confident that I could raise the necessary funds given my network and the people who believed in me.  So I would say the biggest challenge early on is riding that roller coaster that happens with every start-up.  Some mornings you wake up and feel on top of the world – you acquired customers, you raised more money and you got a great PR hit.  Other mornings you can feel very alone and wonder if you’ve made the right decision.  I worked through those downs or moments of doubt by having a trusted group of advisors – many of them fellow entrepreneurs or VCs.

DD: What are your tips for employees who want to be entrepreneurs?

EG: Here is my advice (for what it is worth)!

1) Don’t over-think things.  You really don’t need the ultimate business plan before launch.  You certainly want to figure out the strategy, budget, marketing plan, etc but things will change so quickly that it makes no sense to spend too much time on a set business plan.  I have yet to hear of a company that came even close to their projections (either over or under) and often companies end up stumbling into their business model after trying something else.

2) Don’t feel that you need to do it alone.  You may want to consider finding a co-founder (even if they are not a partner, such is my case) that has complementary strengths.  If you don’t want a co-founder, at least pull together a Board of Advisors who can give you advice, support and connections when needed.

3) Ensure your family/partner is onboard.  Starting a business is stressful and will affect your spouse, kids, etc as much as it affects you.  Be honest with each other about whether it’s the right time, not only financially but with life stages.

4) Just do it (after assessing the risks)! You will never know unless you try.  No amount of analysis or feedback will confirm that you have a good idea.  So much is in the execution and the ability to stay nimble or to change as the environment changes.  Things will go wrong, so keep a thick skin.

DD: How are you now? Are you still in same business, and how do you feel?

EG: I launched SkinnyScoop only 3 months ago and I feel great about the progress.  I have raised angel funding, hired our first 2 employees and attracted 1,000+ members in this short period.  I am very excited about the future and continue to feel passionate about the business.  This doesn’t mean that it’s no longer a roller coaster…there are still those highs and lows!

DD: Thank you so much Eden! It has been a pleasure hearing about your roller coaster ride from marketer/developer to entrepreneur. I wish you all the best with SkinnyScoop; please do keep us posted!

EG: Thank you, Devesh, for listening to my story and for believing in entrepreneurs like myself who strive to take their fresh ideas to the next level. I am very grateful of those who understand the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship.  Best of luck to you as well!

DD: There you have it folks, that was Eden Godsoe, an entrepreneur who developed her idea as a mom-to-be and has continued to work hard to fulfill her dream of making the task of parenting a little bit easier for everyone. Go check out SkinnyScoop

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