Name: Brittany Laughlin
Job Title and Description: Co-founder at gtrot.com
College/Major: New York University/ BS Marketing and International Business with a Minor in Film and TV
Website: gtrot.com or brittanymlaughlin.com
Twitter Handle: br_ttany
Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Brittany Laughlin: We’re a growing company so my job requires me to wear many hats to get things done. I do 75% of my job online—connecting with partners, managing budgets, interacting with customers, marketing strategy, and hiring new employees. The other 25% is phone calls, pitching gtrot at live events, speaking on travel and conducting in-person partner meetings. I travel frequently for business meetings and events so my work environment is constantly changing.
HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
BL: After a junior year summer internship, I worked full time on new product launches at American Express after graduation. Although launching a multi-million dollar product at Amex has a very different timeline than a new start-up, the skill set of managing deadlines, product vision, and teams has been incredibly helpful. In early 2010, I started doing some part-time freelance work with a few technology startups in New York City. I always loved technology and knew I wanted to start my own company full time. I left Amex for gtrot in April 2010.
HC: What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
BL: You have a huge advantage in the tech industry if you know design, development, or a combination of the two. I’ve taken some preliminary classes but I haven’t had nearly enough time to become independently technical. I work with an incredibly talented group of developers and designers so they don’t need additional help, but I wish I had a deeper understanding of our code base. It would help me better anticipate how development timelines will work with business deadlines. I’ve started learning more about design, user experience and code in my free time to increase my proficiency.
HC: Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
BL: I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. My mother, father, and sister have all run their own companies. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have intelligent risk-takers supporting me until I met people who didn’t. Many parents or friends would look at you like you’ve gone mad if you told them you’re quitting a well-paying job at a great company to take no pay and build something on the Internet. My family was incredibly supportive, understanding, and inspirational on my path to starting my own company. I feel really blessed.
HC: What words of wisdom (well-known quotes, an anecdote from your boss) do you find most valuable?
BL: My favorite mantra is “Dream big, work hard and smile often” and chosen aspiration is “I want to do everything.” I think it’s important to choose happiness and to continuously challenge yourself. Life is too wonderful to be unhappy.
HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
BL: There are a lot of decisions that only become completely clear in hindsight. I think one of the biggest things I would’ve changed in our case is testing the product sooner. In the beginning, we spent months of hard work working on the next release of the product. We kept it under wraps and then launched it all at once. Within a few months we realized there were parts of the site that no one used or cared about. We got rid of the excess, focused on what mattered, and learned to take more of a lean approach to development. Now at gtrot we build, get feedback, push it live, watch the metrics, and continuously iterate based on that data.
HC: What is the best part of your job?
BL: Everyday I get to think and talk about the things I love most: travel and technology.
HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
BL: I’ve found the best people to work with are those who enjoy their jobs. I always look for individuals who see an open position as an opportunity to learn, grow, or build a really cool product instead of a “job.” I’ve seen this exemplified by candidates who do extra work to show they understand the product or are interested in the company. If you’re going after a job that you really want and think you’d be perfect for, put in a little extra effort—it will make you stand out. We now have a great team that constantly pushes the limit on what we’re going to do next. It makes for an exciting place to work for everyone.
HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
BL: Don’t wait to start shaping your future: Start taking action today. Before I started in technology I was narrowing down my choices from fashion, green tech, marketing, film, travel, technology, social media, and more. I realized there were a lot of the things I liked but only a few I could actually do full time. Friends and family saw me test-drive a few different options through freelance work, blogs, and attending different types of events. It was through a lot of trial and error that I found what I really wanted to do. Once I knew, it was so much easier to focus and run with it.