Venture Corner: Interview with ChickRx CEO Stacey Borden (HBS ’10)
Women in Tech
Stacey has been a mentor and inspirational role model ever since I met her as a freshman at Harvard College, where she was President of Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business. After college, she worked at Lehman Brothers and 85 Broads before returning to Harvard Business School. ChickRx originated from conversations Stacey had during her first year at HBS with her friend, Meghan Muntean, now her co-founder.
ChickRx is a San Francisco-based startup that has attracted funding from leaders at YouTube, Google, and Facebook, and received press from TechCrunch, Huffington Post, DailyCandy, etc. Their online platform allows members to get expert and peer answers to their questions, share insights, and shop products recommended by experts and influencers. Sign up for their private beta here: www.chickrx.com
L: Stacey, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to chat with WSA about your startup. Can you share with us more about ChickRx’s mission and current growth?
S: Our mission is to create the ultimate advice and product recommendation platform for women. We’re focusing first on healthy living because it’s a huge area of need for better information and support.
L: The idea for ChickRx started while you were at HBS. What resources at HBS were available to you? How would you recommend other students to leverage the entrepreneurial community?
S: From what I know about the Harvard Innovation Lab and HBS Startup Tribe’s efforts, it sounds like Harvard is being incredibly supportive of student entrepreneurship. But the best entrepreneurs don’t just act on what’s presented to them, they create their own opportunities. Every case protagonist who comes to speak, every alum in the directory, and anyone willing to answer your email because you’re currently a Harvard student is someone who can potentially help you. It’s up to you to do the legwork and use your time and others’ time wisely.
L: Many women MBAs who might have otherwise pursued tech struggle to find an entryway without a technical/engineering background. How did you find yourself as an intern for Apple, and what recommendations do you have for women seeking to break into tech?
S: I think this is true for men and women looking to break in. You can’t change your degree or job experience, but going forward you can show genuine interest in and commitment to a career in tech. Teach yourself to code, offer to do an unpaid internship for a startup, write a case on your favorite tech company–there are a bunch of options.
L: Taking the leap to run your own startup vs. pursuing a safer path is something that many students at HBS are currently thinking about. What was your decision process like?
S: I decided to pursue ChickRx full time because I was obsessed with solving a certain problem. I think it’s great that being an entrepreneur is cool right now because that only encourages more innovation; I’d caution, however, to really think about your motivations for wanting to start a company. The highs are very high and the lows are very low, and I don’t think anything can get you through the latter like genuine passion for what you’re building and solving.
L: ChickRx has been successful in raising initial seed funding for the venture. What’s the process like?
S: The process is different for everyone. Most of our investors heard about and approached us first.
L: How have you found the community of female entrepreneurs?
S: There are so many inspiring female entrepreneurs in SF/Silicon Valley and a number of formal organizations, like Women 2.0 and Girls in Tech, which host regular events. My co-founder and I started a women entrepreneurs’ meetup that’s really resulted in a tight group of women committed to helping each other (any of you who move out here can join). I would say the whole startup community is incredibly supportive, and some of our biggest advocates have been male entrepreneur friends.
L: If students are interested in your startup, what is the best way for them to find a role in your organization?
S: They should email me (email@example.com) with an idea for something they’d want to work on at ChickRx and their plans for making it successful.
Lilly Deng is a first-year student at Harvard Business School. At HBS, she is Director of Marketing for the TechMedia and Retail & Luxury Goods clubs and blogs for the Women’s Student Association. She occasionally updates a hobbyist art website, posts poetry, and blogs about her fabulous food finds. She graduated from Harvard College and was an associate at the Boston Consulting Group. Following business school, she plans to pursue careers in consumer/retail and media/tech.