Honeyfund’s CEO And Co-Founder, Sara Margulis


You are planning your dream marriage and an even dreamier honeymoon. When you and your lover set out to populate your marriage ceremony registry, you comprehend you presently have all the dishes, tiny appliances, and cocktail shakers you need to have – immediately after all, you’re the two grownups. What you seriously need to have is some time absent together to launch your life in a unforgettable style.

That’s what took place to Sara Margulis and her fiancé Josh when they made the decision to ask their wedding visitors to support underwrite their honeymoon in lieu of presents. They established their personal small business to support some others do the identical, and these days, Honeyfund is the most trusted money gifting internet site. The platform has authorized 6 million givers to fund extra than $640 million in items for far more than a single million couples. I spoke with Sara about shifting occupations from promoting to tech get started-up, the Shark Tank outcome, putting out on her very own, and balancing household life with jogging her possess company.

Shelley Zalis: You formerly labored as the affiliate director of advertising at Golden Gate College. How did you choose to make a vocation swap and launch your very own enterprise at Honeyfund? What was your lightbulb instant?

Sara Margulis: Honeyfund’s co-founder and I were being engaged to be married and scheduling our very own wedding ceremony, and we experienced this aspiration of honeymooning somewhere exotic and far away like Fiji to get away from the stress of two entire-time positions. But we did not have the resources right after paying out for our personal wedding. So instead of registering completely for conventional housewares, we designed a makeshift want record for the costs involved with our Fiji honeymoon – points like excursions, resort evenings, island hopping flights, and many others. Our marriage ceremony guests confused us with much more than $5,000 in contributions, but much more importantly, they cherished the concept. They requested us to make a little something like it for other partners. That’s how Honeyfund was born.

I had just graduated with an MBA in promoting and my co-founder is a computer software engineer. I experienced been functioning at Golden Gate University on marketing and advertising projects this kind of as the university’s new web-site, e-mail marketing plans, and a CRM implementation. We took the idea and enthusiasm from our own wedding day friends, and all that experienced track record, and created and launched Honeyfund.com from our sofa.

SZ: How considerably prior expertise, if any, did you have in the startup market right before launching Honeyfund? How did your time on Shark Tank catapult your journey?

SM: We were in San Francisco in the early 2000s when the know-how startup boom was happening all close to us. We had friends at Twitter when it initial introduced, for illustration. Neither of us definitely experienced any immediate working experience in startups, but we could build and deal with assignments. And we equally had a aspiration of being economically independent and getting a flexible plan so we could be there for our potential small children.

In 2013 we ended up residing that dream: the organization was supporting our spouse and children and we experienced all the versatility we envisioned. We had bought our dream dwelling and we experienced two wholesome young children who had been rising up in an idyllic city in Sonoma County, California.

When Shark Tank termed, we experienced to make a tough selection – do we grow further than our way of living small business and enter the entire world of a quick-developing startup? Having on investment cash, being aware of particularly how we needed to deploy it, realizing how to unlock the subsequent section of expansion – those were all unfamiliar to us. Starting a little something is very various from escalating it.

However, we felt it was the ideal factor to do for the Honeyfund manufacturer and our member group. So we used for the exhibit and bought solid. Our episode aired in October 2013 and it was a strike! Our web site crashed from all the traffic. We were being so thrilled to have the attention on the Honeyfund brand. We realized that the moment people today had heard of Honeyfund they beloved the concept. So our Shark Tank visual appearance and the offer with Kevin O’Leary released us on to the national stage. This drove a whole lot additional traffic and associates, but it also brought us the notoriety to form higher-degree partnerships, this kind of as our registry integration with Target.

SZ: What are the positive aspects and shortcomings that arrive with a profession changeover and branching out on your personal to start a organization?

SM: We have been extremely blessed that Honeyfund was properly received and grew itself to the stage that we have been able to make a good dwelling prior to getting on Shark Tank. That was period 1 of the transition from functioning for an individual else to working for ourselves. It was what we had dreamed of. So we felt we were savoring all the pros of accomplishing our individual detail.

But the enterprise was expanding more quickly than we had been. It essential additional from us. We did not have sufficient workforce to provide our partners and keep the internet site. That launched us into a advancement phase that was seriously challenging to master how to deal with – we didn’t have the expertise there. Finally after a very long and winding highway, we break up up and I purchased my co-founder out of the company. So that phase of advancement came with a ton of strain and challenges. And I felt pulled in so numerous instructions as a mother, spouse, and business proprietor. I stopped taking care of myself and burned out. Then Covid strike and I confronted one more large problem with the small business, this time on your own at the helm. I had to just take a lengthy glimpse in the mirror and question myself if I had what it requires to be certain Honeyfund could endure a 90% drop in revenues and a pandemic with no stop in sight.

I made a decision to stage up and do my ideal to hold the corporation heading for its associates and staff. I invested a ton in escalating as a leader, employed a management crew to control the development, and clarified my purpose in the firm. We introduced a crowdfunding campaign to invite our customers and present givers to invest in the company’s future phase of progress. And we obtained by way of! But these have been some of the hardest yrs of my lifetime. Getting dependable for a company, a group, and clients – it’s a big burden at occasions.

Even so the possibility to mature and turn out to be the chief of anything outstanding arrives as soon as in a life span – so the positive aspects far outweigh the drawbacks for me. I see it as a journey and I am at any time-evolving together the way.

SZ: In the very last handful of decades, there has been an growing craze of girls leaving their employment to start out their personal firms all through the Great Resignation. Based on your experience, is there a “right” time or are there suitable conditions for a vocation improve?

SM: The pull among occupation and family members is so complicated. In a whole lot of methods, a occupation with a certain amount of hours that you can go away and occur household is so a lot healthier for that relatives balance and your personalized self-treatment than a start-up. I would say there is no correct time to commence your own thing if you’re passionate about it just do it. But with this just one caveat: females with companions and/or youngsters really should imagine extended and tough about the amount of time and emphasis they want to be able to give their relatives. And then dedicate what’s left to a new undertaking. Everybody will convey to you that you have to give 200% to a startup but that is really not accurate. And it will guide to burnout so rapid if you are not cautious.

As a substitute, get started your venture with a crew that can give their entire concentrate. If you are keeping the vision and goals, you can and need to reserve time for self-care and your relatives. I know this can be so really hard to attain, but I’m a realist so I split it down like a basic math problem. I search at how many several hours I have in a week and I strive to first prioritize my possess self-care, then my time with my kids and lover, then my operate priorities.

I also consider the seasonality of my enterprise and my children’s university. Summertime is a great time to be equipped to give a minor more to young children and a very little much less to the company. But if you are beginning a business enterprise (like mine) that has higher summer needs it could be difficult. The important is getting quite actual with your self about how several hrs of aim you are ready to give to a new undertaking.

SZ: What guidance would you give to women searching to change their profession but who experience discouraged or doubtful of the place to start?

SM: I would say start out with a change toward the industry or skills you want to learn and get seriously fantastic at those people while functioning for someone else with continuous work several hours, added benefits, and fork out. Or join a volunteer corporation. Once you are self-confident in your competencies and know precisely how you will deal with your time and target, then set up your new enterprise inside all those parameters.


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