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How She Got There: Kathy Savitt, Founder and CEO of Lockerz

Name: Kathy Savitt
Job Title and Description: Founder and CEO, Lockerz
College/Major: Cornell University, History and Government
Website: www.lockerz.com
Twitter Handle: @ksavitt
 
Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Kathy Savitt: As the founder and CEO of Lockerz, I’m leading a company that is manically focused on our 20+ million members across 195 countries. One day I am leading creative brainstorms with my team that can run from a few minutes to several hours long, and the next, I may need to travel across the country introducing Lockerz to potential business partners. Building a start-up from scratch is hard work and not for the faint of heart. However, each day I work with some of the most passionate and talented employees I have ever known, speak directly with our members who help guide our product evolution, and forge a path to be the world’s first truly social commerce website.
 
HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
KS: My first entry-level job was actually at Chemical Bank as they sought to test new markets for expansion beyond New York. I graduated during a bad recession and I remember feeling lucky to have scored the job from a series of on-campus of interviews at Cornell.
 
HC: What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
KS:
Experience sometimes works against you. Innovation happens in most industries by brave people who had no idea or no care about what worked in the industry before.
 
HC: Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
KS:
My father has always been my most influential and beloved role model. He’s one of the best business people I’ve ever met, and his leadership style taught me that it’s about getting first-class employees to channel that greatness for the good of their customers. He was someone I saw every day in my adolescence, and his passion was not lost on me — even at the age of 15. I remember he would say things to me like, “One day, you will build great things.”  He always treated me as a young adult rather than a “kid,” and supported my ambitions from day one.
 
HC: What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
KS: Early on my career, a mentor once told me, “Never refuse knowledge when it’s offered.”  It’s a piece of advice that I practice to this day, and one that is not only for entrepreneurs, but also for women who want to succeed in the workplace. If someone wants to give you knowledge accept it, even if it’s negative. It’s this kind of directness that I really admire in mentors, advisors and colleagues.
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HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
KS: Missteps are part of the experience when running a startup, and at Lockerz, we really try to celebrate our failures. We’re always trying to experiment, and for a short period of time we offered online auctions to our members. Initially, it was incredibly popular, but the problem was that for every 10 people we made happy, we made 100 people unhappy. Even though the auctions worked, the negative feedback we were getting made it apparent that this wasn’t a customer-focused experience that rewarded everyone. So we are no longer doing it.
 
HC: What is the best part of your job?
KS: By far, the best part of my job is working with a world-class team that includes some of the brightest developers, engineers, and marketers I have come across. Together, we’re working on a big challenge: the answer to social commerce. We’re doing this by keeping a customer focus in our work. The team is staying true to our mission in every decision we make, and they always want to meet that challenge.
 
HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
KS:
I look for someone whose personality embraces our core values: innovation, guts, respect, optimism, wit, and engagement. Our underlying principles are respect for the innovation, ideas and input of team members who are working for the good of the customer experience.
 
HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
KS:
I have four top-level tips for young entrepreneurs.

  1. Think big. There are always people who want to make you think in a smaller box, so you have to consistently think on a broader scale before you dive into the minute details.
  2. Look beyond partnerships focused on your product or monetization, to those that will help you think strategically about your business. This forces you to figure out what people can do to support your mission.
  3. Sell your vision upfront. Your vision shouldn’t only include what you want to build, but also who your audience is, how you want to monetize it and how to create barriers for the competition.
  4. Be quantitative when defining your success. Build this quantification into your presentations so your potential investors know you’re thinking that way.
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Gennifer is the Branded Content Specialist for Her Campus Media. In her role, she manages all sponsored content across platforms including editorial, social, and newsletters. As one of HC's first-ever writers, she previously wrote about career, college life, and more as a national writer during her time at Hofstra University. She also helped launch the How She Got There section, where she interviewed inspiring women in various industries. She lives in New York City.
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