How this founder pushed past fear to build a tech retail empire

How this founder pushed past fear to build a tech retail empire
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When Ali Kriegsman and Alana Branston started Bulletin in 2015, a leading wholesale platform for retailers to buy products from independent brands, they had no idea the company would evolve from a shoppable online newsletter to a multimillion-dollar VC-backed retail marketplace.

But Kriegsman chronicles her entrepreneurial journey – warts and all – in her debut book, “How to Build a Goddamn Empire,” which details her path from corporate employee to pivoting and scaling a major business. The book features stories and advice from 30 other female founders who built companies of various sizes and stages.

The founder and COO recently spoke with Know Your Value’s Daniela Pierre-Bravo, as part of an Acceso Community workshop, about the growing pains of entrepreneurship, maintaining confidence in the face of fear and how other entrepreneurs can grow their businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“I think one of the most taxing and undercover hidden parts of entrepreneurship that you don’t often get to solve with a quick conversation with another founder or a Google search is the emotion, mental and psychological implications of entrepreneurship,” said Kriegsman. “It was a bumpy road … and I wanted to write this book because no one owned up to that.”

She intended for the book to serve as a founder’s toolkit for successful hacks and growth strategies, but it also acknowledge on the emotional side of leading a startup. “[It’s] the vulnerable, nitty-gritty stories that I and other founders share in the book will help founders with the most difficult part of entrepreneurship, which is getting out of your own way,” she said.

When asked about how women can become more nimble and flexible during uncertain times, Kriegsman offered her best advice. “It all goes back to remapping fear into opportunity,” she told Pierre-Bravo. “A lot of people fear change or evolution because it’s the unknown.”

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For Kriegsman, it took years to push past fear and realize that failure was a component of success. “If you accept that taking a risk … or trying to monetize a hobby might not go as planned, or even fail – if you accept that those things may not lead to your desired result but that you will learn something nonetheless, I think approaching change and uncertainly will be more palatable.”