Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Julia O’Mara, co-founder and Head of Growth at Pickle. Pickle is a social commerce platform where users can get quick and relevant feedback from both their friends and people in communities who share similar style preferences. Online shopping is currently very individualized and lacks the socialization and real-time feedback that occurs within in-store shopping. The goal of Pickle is to combine the efficiency of online shopping with the social benefits of in-person shopping.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I studied engineering and entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania and then worked at Blackstone for a few years after graduation. I met Brian McMahon, the other Pickle co-founder, at Blackstone, an investment management company, where we worked closely for nearly two years on various fundraising and business development initiatives. Brian had the original idea to build a scalable solution to quickly and easily source authentic consumer data and sentiment. He introduced the idea to me a few months later and we started diving into design, development, and building the business.
Describe the process of launching the business.
At first we were doing a lot of research around competitors, social proof, and the market research industry to figure out how we could best achieve product-market fit. We then started designing and developing our initial version of the platform, which was released into Beta in February of 2021. In June 2021, we launched out of Beta and started growing our user base and building additional functionality to meet the needs of our community. We pushed to get our product into the market as fast as possible to start learning from our users and continue to build a solution focused on solving their problems. We are still in the process of releasing all of our commerce focused functionality and are excited to have the last components released by the end of October.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The best way to attract and retain customers has been showing users how Pickle can solve their problems. The main benefit of going to market so quickly was the ability to gain immediate insight into the best use cases of Pickle by analyzing usage data and conducting user interviews. By analyzing this data, we continuously improved our features and were able to better retain our existing user base. As far as acquisition, we have been very active on social media and college campuses, marketing the platform’s features that are seeing the highest engagement and meeting users’ needs most efficiently.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We’re doing pretty well! We’re super excited to be rolling out the remaining social commerce features on Pickle and are looking forward to our users utilizing these new features to help make purchases, especially with the upcoming holiday season. The future of Pickle is a revolutionized online social shopping experience, where users communicate and engage with each other to help find new products and make purchasing decisions.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Listening to your users and learning from their behavior on the platform is the best way to improve your business. There have been several occasions where we predicted a user would interact with a new feature in a certain way only to find out that they actually use it in a completely different way. That feedback is incredibly valuable – continuous learning from our users has been the best way to increase user adoption and retention.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
For design we use Figma, Illustrator, and Rotato. On the development side, the front end is written in React Native and we utilize the AWS Suite for our back end. All documents and files are stored in our company Google Drive. We also use a number of other SaaS products to help manage our business such as Stripe, Gusto, and Carta.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The Lean Startup has been one of my favorite books. One key lesson from that book that we put into play at Pickle is the importance of continuous learning and iterative design/development. As far as podcasts go, I’m a religious listener of How I Built This by Guy Raz and also enjoy Work Life by Adam Grant.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
You will learn an incredible amount as an entrepreneur. A lot of what you learn will be what not to do. Take each mistake or learning experience as an opportunity to grow and improve as a founder. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given is to take every high and every low as even-keeled as you can because starting a company will undoubtedly be an emotional rollercoaster. Also keep in mind that most of what you’ll see about other startups is their successes and exciting moments. Behind the scenes are a lot of difficult decisions and challenges. Most companies don’t talk about those publicly, so try not to compare yourself to other founders and startups based on what you see on the surface.
Where can we go to learn more?
To learn more about Pickle please visit www.picklepoll.com and check out our social media: Instagram: @picklepoll TikTok: @picklepoll LinkedIn: Pickle We’d also love to hear from you – feel free to send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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