Before Polyvore allowed you to create magazine style collages, before Fashism allowed you to get sartorial advice from your friends, and before style bloggers even knew how to use a camera, there was...Patricia Handschiegel and StyleDiary.net.
In 2004, Patricia founded StyleDiary.net, considered the first personal style site/blog, to chronicle her daily personal style; then, in 2007, she sold her site to Stylehive, becoming one of the first women to sell a fashion-related blog/site to major company. After selling StyleDiary, Patricia went on to serve as an adviser to several emerging tech companies, including Kaboodle, which sold to Hearst, and ThisNext.com. Her CEO blog has over 27,000 followers, including “internet influencers” like Om Malik, John Mahoney of Tumblr, and Guy Kawasaki.
Patricia is currently the founder and CEO of 9, which makes things in the internet, media, and entertainment business. 9's latest project is Condiment, a digital lifestyle magazine about getting the good life through unique, upstart, and independent products, delivered in a true, traditional magazine style across devices on the internet.
I sat down with Patricia to discuss life as an internet pioneer, how to sell her site, and areas of opportunity for women entrepreneurs.
I live in three places every day as an entrepreneur -- the past, for whatever stuff I executed on already, the present for whatever has to be done today and the future, because that’s where ultimately we are all heading...
In 2004, you founded the first personal style blog/site StyleDiary.net, which you then sold to Stylehive in 2007. How does one sell a blog/site?
The key thing is to understand the market and then your site's value. But it can be better to not sell -- the key thing is to think about the long range and what you want, because once it's sold everything changes.
What are some of the challenges faced by women-led startups, and what are some steps that the startups can take to overcome these challenges?
There’s this perception that women are not getting the same resources as men in certain industries. While I haven’t seen this, it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. My advice is to ignore these challenges, focus on the task at hand, and keep going.
A lot of the challenges women face are similar to those men face -- selling people on your ideas, finding the resources you need, handling the rigors of being an entrepreneur, etc. The key is really to take your time, and really think out each step of your business, whether the doors fly open easily or they feel locked shut. There is really no rush. Seek input from not only trusted advisors or consultants, but also friends, family, etc. when you're not sure what to do.
Do you have to be a programmer/hacker to start an internet-based company? If you’re not a programmer/hacker, where can you find one?
It depends on what you want to create. Today, there are a lot of third party platforms for things like publishing and ecommerce, where you won't need a programmer (or need much of one if you do). If it's something that is a little more specific, you'll likely need a programmer. The best way to find them is through research. Ask for references.
Where are the opportunities for women entrepreneurs on the web? Is there any field/section of the web that offers opportunities for women, but is often overlooked?
The opportunities for women on the internet aren't just limited to the internet itself. There is a large number of opportunities for women in areas that are connected -- and directly connected -- to the internet. The internet is an information delivery (media) platform, communications platform (telecom); it offers start-up opportunities for women in many industries from food supply to automotive, etc. Women can (and are) succeeding in these arenas.
Lifestyle, fashion, parenting, etc. are often a natural fit for women entrepreneurs, because we're active customers and consumers in these arenas. However, there are a number of other areas. Education is a hot area of the web; it offers great opportunities. And there are a lot of transactional, back-end opportunities in relation to the web. There are still some opportunities in the social internet (think social sites like Fashism, Quora, HonestlyNow, as that area is always evolving. And then of course there are ancillary businesses that support businesses online -- marketing, publicity, design, etc.
There has been quite a bit of discussion on the lack of women hackers/developers. What are two or three things women in general can do to help encourage more women developers?
I think we really need to push younger women (teens, tweens, early 20s) to gain exposure to new and different career routes in general. When this happens, you see growth among women in those careers. Marketing and publicity are both great examples of this.
We are inspired by who and what we see. Programming involves a lot of math, so introducing it at an early age as a potential career option for girls would likely be helpful. I also think that enabling women overall to see other women in these areas is important -- this can encourage and foster the idea that there is opportunity as well. I think we'll see more women evolve into more technical careers in the future organically, but it'd be great to see more girls get greater exposure to programming as an option.
For more thoughts on women, technology and business, please follow Kathryn on Twitter at @KathrynFinney
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