Honeyfund’s CEO And Co-Founder, Sara Margulis

You are preparing your desire wedding day and an even dreamier honeymoon. When you and your spouse set out to populate your marriage registry, you recognize you now have all the dishes, modest appliances, and cocktail shakers you want – soon after all, you’re equally grownups. What you truly have to have is some time away alongside one another to start your life in a unforgettable vogue.

Which is what happened to Sara Margulis and her fiancé Josh when they made a decision to inquire their wedding day visitors to help underwrite their honeymoon in lieu of presents. They started their possess enterprise to help other people do the similar, and now, Honeyfund is the most dependable hard cash gifting internet site. The system has authorized 6 million givers to fund a lot more than $640 million in presents for additional than a person million partners. I spoke with Sara about shifting careers from advertising to tech begin-up, the Shark Tank outcome, placing out on her possess, and balancing relatives lifetime with jogging her own organization.

Shelley Zalis: You previously labored as the associate director of advertising and marketing at Golden Gate University. How did you decide to make a job switch and launch your have business at Honeyfund? What was your lightbulb second?

Sara Margulis: Honeyfund’s co-founder and I were being engaged to be married and planning our possess wedding ceremony, and we experienced this aspiration of honeymooning someplace exotic and far away like Fiji to get absent from the anxiety of two total-time jobs. But we did not have the resources following paying out for our very own marriage. So alternatively of registering completely for standard housewares, we developed a makeshift wish checklist for the costs connected with our Fiji honeymoon – points like excursions, resort nights, island hopping flights, and so on. Our wedding company confused us with a lot more than $5,000 in contributions, but additional importantly, they beloved the concept. They questioned us to make a thing like it for other partners. Which is how Honeyfund was born.

I had just graduated with an MBA in advertising and marketing and my co-founder is a application engineer. I experienced been performing at Golden Gate College on marketing and advertising tasks this sort of as the university’s new site, e-mail internet marketing plans, and a CRM implementation. We took the plan and enthusiasm from our have wedding friends, and all that qualified track record, and established and introduced Honeyfund.com from our sofa.

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

SM: We were in San Francisco in the early 2000s when the technological innovation startup increase was happening all all around us. We had pals at Twitter when it 1st launched, for example. Neither of us truly experienced any immediate encounter in startups, but we could build and regulate projects. And we each experienced a dream of being monetarily unbiased and getting a flexible routine so we could be there for our long term small children.

In 2013 we had been dwelling that aspiration: the small business was supporting our household and we had all the flexibility we envisioned. We experienced purchased our dream residence and we experienced two nutritious youngsters who ended up rising up in an idyllic city in Sonoma County, California.

When Shark Tank known as, we had to make a difficult conclusion – do we improve beyond our lifestyle company and enter the globe of a rapid-developing startup? Getting on expense capital, knowing exactly how we wanted to deploy it, knowing how to unlock the following stage of progress – those have been all unfamiliar to us. Starting off some thing is very various from escalating it.

Yet, we felt it was the right factor to do for the Honeyfund brand and our member neighborhood. So we used for the display and got forged. Our episode aired in October 2013 and it was a hit! Our website crashed from all the targeted visitors. We ended up so thrilled to have the attention on the Honeyfund brand. We knew that when persons experienced listened to of Honeyfund they beloved the strategy. So our Shark Tank visual appearance and the deal with Kevin O’Leary released us onto the nationwide phase. This drove a large amount a lot more visitors and members, but it also brought us the notoriety to variety superior-amount partnerships, these as our registry integration with Concentrate on.

SZ: What are the strengths and cons that come with a occupation changeover and branching out on your very own to start a organization?

SM: We ended up incredibly blessed that Honeyfund was nicely obtained and grew itself to the place that we were being in a position to make a very good residing prior to becoming on Shark Tank. That was period one particular of the changeover from functioning for anyone else to doing work for ourselves. It was what we had dreamed of. So we felt we ended up experiencing all the rewards of performing our very own matter.

But the business enterprise was developing quicker than we were being. It required much more from us. We didn’t have plenty of workforce to provide our partners and keep the site. That launched us into a expansion section that was really tough to understand how to handle – we didn’t have the experience there. Ultimately immediately after a lengthy and winding street, we break up up and I bought my co-founder out of the corporation. So that stage of expansion arrived with a lot of tension and worries. And I felt pulled in so lots of instructions as a mother, spouse, and business owner. I stopped taking care of myself and burned out. Then Covid strike and I faced one more huge challenge with the small business, this time by itself at the helm. I had to just take a lengthy look in the mirror and inquire myself if I had what it usually takes to ensure Honeyfund could survive a 90% fall in revenues and a pandemic with no conclude in sight.

I made the decision to step up and do my most effective to maintain the organization heading for its users and employees. I invested a ton in growing as a chief, hired a management group to manage the advancement, and clarified my role in the enterprise. We introduced a crowdfunding marketing campaign to invite our users and gift givers to make investments in the company’s subsequent phase of growth. And we bought by way of! But those people have been some of the toughest years of my existence. Remaining responsible for a organization, a group, and shoppers – it is a substantial stress at moments.

Having said that the opportunity to develop and turn out to be the leader of something remarkable will come when in a life time – so the advantages considerably outweigh the drawbacks for me. I see it as a journey and I am ever-evolving alongside the way.

SZ: In the final number of yrs, there has been an rising development of females leaving their careers to start their personal firms through the Excellent Resignation. Dependent on your practical experience, is there a “right” time or are there great situations for a profession adjust?

SM: The pull between profession and loved ones is so hard. In a good deal of means, a work with a specific variety of several hours that you can go away and appear household is so considerably healthier for that spouse and children stability and your personalized self-treatment than a start off-up. I would say there’s no right time to begin your individual thing if you’re passionate about it just do it. But with this just one caveat: women of all ages with associates and/or little ones should feel extended and tricky about the amount of time and emphasis they want to be able to give their loved ones. And then dedicate what’s still left to a new undertaking. Everybody will inform you that you have to give 200% to a startup but which is seriously not true. And it will lead to burnout so quick if you are not watchful.

As a substitute, commence your venture with a group that can give their entire concentration. If you are keeping the eyesight and plans, you can and should really reserve time for self-treatment and your family. I know this can be so hard to execute, but I’m a realist so I break it down like a simple math problem. I glance at how several hrs I have in a 7 days and I attempt to 1st prioritize my possess self-care, then my time with my kids and associate, then my function priorities.

I also take into account the seasonality of my organization and my children’s school. Summer is a good time to be able to give a minimal much more to kids and a minimal less to the enterprise. But if you are starting up a enterprise (like mine) that has superior summertime requires it could be tough. The crucial is getting pretty actual with on your own about how numerous hours of focus you are eager to give to a new undertaking.

SZ: What tips would you give to women of all ages hunting to transform their occupation but who feel discouraged or doubtful of the place to start off?

SM: I would say start off with a shift toward the marketplace or competencies you want to learn and get genuinely superior at individuals whilst performing for another person else with continuous get the job done hours, advantages, and shell out. Or be part of a volunteer firm. As soon as you are assured in your capabilities and know accurately how you will deal with your time and concentrate, then set up your new undertaking within all those parameters.