Drink Like a Lady Podcast

A Conversation with Lindsey Andrews, Co-Founder of Minibar Delivery

October 11, 2022 Joya Dass/Lindsey Andrews
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
A Conversation with Lindsey Andrews, Co-Founder of Minibar Delivery
Show Notes Transcript

Late night drinks don't always give rise to a successful business venture but in the case of Minibar Delivery, that's exactly how the business was born.

While at the Wharton School getting an MBA, Lindsey Andrews and Lara Crystal were doing "takeout Tuesday night" and thought wine would pair nicely. But there must be an easier way than trekking out of the apartment in search of the closest wine store.

The two friends became business partners, and in turn partnered with local stores to provide consumers the ability to shop for wine, liquor, and beer, from a smart phone, and have it delivered to the doorstep. As mom-and-pop stores were the suppliers so Minibar Delivery was also supporting small business.

In this conversation you will learn:

- The full story on how Minibar Delivery was founded

- How Minibar changed the alcohol business

- How Minibar was able to handle a 500% increase in deliveries during the pandemic

Joya is currently enrolling members for international (Europe) and domestic (NYC) strategy days. She also leads a year-long intensive mastermind of C-Suite level women, which is accepting applications for 2024.



[00:00:58.990] - Joya

All right, well, you don't think that late night drinks necessarily gives rise to a successful business business venture, but that is exactly how Lindsey Andrews and her co founder founded Minibar Delivery. And I'm so excited to have this conversation with you, Lindsay, because I feel like it was a million years ago that we connected, and here we are today having this conversation. How are you?

[00:01:20.860] - Lindsey

I'm doing well. Thank you so much for having me today.

[00:01:24.050] - Joya

I'm fascinated by the story because alcohol is a big part of New York City life, and that's how we gather, that's how we socialize. And that was exactly what was happening in your life when this idea came about. So let's start there. How did this company idea come to fruition?

[00:01:41.990] - Lindsey

Yeah, so back in 2013, my co founder and I would meet for Takeout Tuesday at my apartment. We lived a block away from each other, and one Tuesday, our Thai food from Seamless came easily. But disaster ensued when I was out of white wine. And we figured in back then, you press button and get anything delivered. We thought, there must be a solution. We must be able to get some wine delivered. And then we dove in and we saw that that wasn't possible. We could pick up the phone and call liquor store, read our credit card number, guess what they have, have it delivered, which is no one wants to pick up the phone anymore. No one wants to guess what someone carries. So we thought, this is kind of our AHA moment. Let's try to figure out how to bring easy delivery to this new category. So that was the impetus back in 2013 for Minibar Delivery.

[00:02:35.030] - Joya

And what was happening in your life at that time? You were getting your MBA? What was happening?

[00:02:40.210] - Lindsey

So my cofounder and I, we went to Wharton together, and then for about four years afterwards, we both worked at startups. So I had kind of been in the consumable space. I was at Fresh Direct, the online grocer, and then I was at the Quid See portfolio of brands, which was acquired by Amazon, which was like diapers.com. So I worked on their drugstore Vertical Soap.com and then their pet Vertical. I helped launch and run marketing. So we were both kind of working in marketing, in e commerce. She had the luxury experience, I had the consumables experience. And alcohol felt like the perfect blend as the luxury consumable. So we thought, okay, this is the idea worth taking the plunge. And we both decided to leave our jobs and commit full time to Minibar Delivery in kind of late 2013.

[00:03:32.810] - Joya

So this is prepandemic, and I'm thinking about who became part of the ecosystem. It was local mom and pop owned liquor stores. That were your first sort of partnerships, no?

[00:03:45.750] - Lindsey

Yes. So we were based in New York City. Our first city that we launched was New York. And actually it's illegal to own more than one liquor store in New York State. So they're pretty much all mom and Pops, which has its pros and cons. Pro is you can walk in, the manager or owner is accessible if they make the decision to, yes, I want to get on the minibar delivery platform. You can get that done very quickly. But it's just one store then. So it's just the radius around that one store. Whereas the chain, if you sign them up, you could get 50 stores and huge coverage. But it's usually a larger organization, so the sales contract integration process is much longer. So we did work initially with mom and Pops in New York City, which was our biggest market, and we all mom and Pops generally, at least for Wine and Spirits. Beer can be sold at chains. So that was kind of our launching point. We originally just launched with Wine and Spirits in February of 2014, and then we added on beer in kind of June of 2014. Because also in New York, you can't sell beer with Wine and Spirit, so added complications and complexity.

[00:04:59.840] - Lindsey

So we had to make it so you could do a two store check out if you're adding beer and wine to your car.

[00:05:05.710] - Joya

Yeah, I'm from Pennsylvania, and the blue laws there dictate that you cannot sell what is it? Beer and liquor in the state establishment.

[00:05:14.420] - Lindsey

An allstate run.  So it's very hard to do our business model in Pennsylvania, as you would have to work with the government.

[00:05:21.160] - Joya

Pretty much, yeah. What's the question? I'm not asking you. There's so many steps between, here's the idea on the back of a napkin to here's my fully fledged business ready to take its first customer.

[00:05:35.510] - Lindsey

Yeah, I mean, myself and my co founder, we are not technical, so we had to find both an outsourced development shop and then also hire engineers. So that was kind of one of our first steps. Another was raising money so we could pay the dev shop as well as our first hires. So that was key. And then getting the liquor stores on our platform because obviously, without a partner, we couldn't deliver the alcohol. So those were kind of our three initial steps. And we were then kind of ready to launch in early 2014. Which we did in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and then with Just Wine and Spirits, which was really exciting. And we had a great team to help us. But those early days, everyone's doing everything. Like, if customers calling, asking where their order is, it's one of us answering the phone and trying to figure that out for them.

[00:06:26.840] - Joya

For those that are founders that are listening right now. Where did you go to hire the reliable help?

[00:06:35.930] - Lindsey

We got very lucky. So our CTO, Lara, had met previously at her previous job. He had interviewed for a job. I think they were very interested in hiring him, but he ended up staying in his current role. So then we went back to him with this, and he was excited and so joined us. So we got really lucky there. And then he obviously kind of led hiring the other engineers since that was his area of expertise. And it was harder for us to ask the right interview questions to know how good they were at coding. And then we hired some kind of, like, junior all around helpers that were smart go getters that could help with anything. They could go into a liquor store and try to get them to sign off. They could answer customer service calls. They could write emails. They could kind of jack of all trades type of person. So we had a great really all around team that we all loved working with, and we were excited to come to work every day. And it was fun. Like, small changes could make big differences.

[00:07:43.190] - Joya

I'm really pressing on the hiring thing because this is one of the things that I hear from my membership. I need to hire X or I need to hire a salesperson. Where the heck do I go to find them? Do I put something up on? Indeed. Do I look on LinkedIn? Do I post a posting? So when you think about the sort of Man Friday, Girl Friday position that was going into the liquor stores, where are the pockets that you looked for that talent?

[00:08:06.010] - Lindsey

Yeah, I mean, it was a lot of, like, college graduates for the really junior all around people who had just graduated from college. We usually use our networks to try to find those people or hired people from our networks previously, since we had been in e commerce and kind of tech. We also really liked posting on Angel List. That was kind of our go to for where we would post a job listing.

[00:08:30.240] - Joya

Okay. Angel list. That's good to know. So how would you say, now it's up and running? The machine is up. How did you change the alcohol business?

[00:08:43.730] - Lindsey

Yeah, I think in a few ways. One, we kind of help modernize them. These liquor stores hadn't been modernized in basically 100 years. They were still the same shops you walked in, everything's on the shelf. Generally, it was organized like the wine is organized by region. But I don't think that's how most people shop. They might be like, oh, I want a Pinot Grigio, or I want a Chardonnay. So I think we really helped modernize the industry and bring them online. It didn't make sense for every mom and pop or store to hire in house tech to build a website, like a marketing team to market it like people to be customer service. So it made more sense to have that one unified platform that could do all of that for them. And they could focus on what they were good at. Which was buying, merchandising, picking, packing, delivering alcohol. Whereas we could focus on what we were good at which was building great tech. Building a great shoppable website. Building a brand. And doing marketing to bring the customers to help them grow their kind of delivery and ecommerce business.

[00:09:50.240] - Joya

So this teas up. Another thing that I think is a recurring pain point that I hear from women, whether they're lawyers, whether they're selling Widgets, whether they're selling Cupcakes, is how do I get clients, how do I get recurring clients? So when you talk about marketing, how did you get buy in from the partners? How did you get buy in from people that were willing to take a risk on this new way of shopping for liquor?

[00:10:12.070] - Lindsey

Yeah. So for the liquor store network, usually if there was a young person involved in the liquor store, they understood that the world was moving online and they needed to get on board. So that helped with the sales process, but that was definitely not the case at all the library stores. So I remember one that was like five blocks from our office where we wanted to get them on the platform, Bauer and Bine, and we would walk in like every seven days and they would be like, no, we're not doing that. And finally they acquiesced. And we drove a huge portion of business to them, and I think they were really happy, but we just had to be really persistent and kind of make our case. And it got easier and easier with each one. One, because we learned what worked, but two once we've launched we could show them actual data. We could say, go talk to our other liquor store in a different neighborhood and see what they say about us. Let what we've done already speak for ourselves. So it got a lot easier. And as we got pressed, then other stores would hear about us and say, what is this?

[00:11:22.580] - Lindsey

So then we had sometimes incoming sales, which is obviously much easier to convert than outgoing sales and cold calls. And then in terms of end consumers, we did a lot of marketing, we tried a lot of stuff. Obviously, we didn't have tons of money because we're an early stage startup. So we would do everything from hosting happy hours in tech offices to get the word out. We would hand out flyers on the street about minibar. We obviously did like Facebook and Google AdWords ads back then as well. We did direct mail. We've tried everything that there was out there. We would do sweepstakes with other companies and they would email their list, and we would email their list or do like co promotion. A friend of mine started Urban Stems, the flower delivery business. We sat next to each other at Quids and we left the same day to start our companies. So a lot of the time we would help each other both from a learning perspective of what's working for marketing, as well as like maybe on Mother's day, we would send an email and be like, oh, get your champagne and your flowers from urban stems, and during the holiday, they might do the same for us.

[00:12:29.710] - Lindsey

So we did a lot of partnerships and had to be scrappy because we didn't have unlimited capital.

[00:12:34.970] - Joya

So what I'm hearing you say for anybody who's listening right now and is thinking about getting clients, recurring clients, is that you came armed with data because the numbers don't lie. And you could say, this is how much revenue I'm going to drive to you based on the performance of another store. And then also you kind of blew it out with a limited budget, but you really blew it out with strategic partnerships that made sense in your space in order to be able to draw fresh eyes to what you were doing.

[00:13:04.290] - Lindsey

Yes, and we really focused on New York for a long time. Like, we didn't launch another city for almost nine or ten months. So we really wanted to get New York right, make sure that both the shopping experience made sense and consumers enjoyed it. And we're converting, as well as which I think we kind of at the beginning, my Cofounder and I are both like marketers. We love building brands. We're excited about getting the consumers. But what we quickly realized was we had to build a great back end for the stores because if they don't see the orders coming in and are confirming it, they're not going to deliver them in a timely manner. If we're not getting the POS data to know what they carry in store and their prices, then there might be out of stocks and then the consumers are having a bad experience. So we realized early on we really needed to focus on the experience for the liquor store employees and managers and getting the right data from them to serve to the consumers about what was available in that store. And over kind of our entire history, we always focused on that and improving the data and the experience for the liquor stores.

[00:14:11.660] - Joya

What kind of dashboard do you use to kind of monitor that? I imagine as you got? And this really teas up the next thing that we're going to talk about, which is scaling. But what's the dashboard? It's not a sauna, right?

[00:14:24.470] - Lindsey

So we built everything ourselves. It was all kind of custom. So we had a dashboard for the liquor stores so they would know what orders are coming in, what their inventory was, what their hours were, their delivery zone, everything on our platform. So if they needed to change anything, they could let us know. And then we had a dashboard at minibar to understand every store out of stock rate, late rate, so we knew where the problems were and we could work with the store to improve them. So if they had a ton of late orders, we would say, do you want to change your hours. Do you want to reduce your delivery zone? Or maybe we'd find a store on the outskirts of their delivery zone to help them with the demand. So we really focus on that because the better our metrics are, or the overall metrics are for on time deliveries and in stocks, that just makes our customers happier. Hopefully they'll come back more frequently, increase their lifetime value, and then we can spend more justifiably to acquire each customer and grow faster.

[00:15:27.540] - Joya

I was at a retreat for my own development last week, and one of the things we talked about is that women just don't love numbers. Women don't love their own numbers. They don't love the numbers associated with their business, and it's actually a critical piece to your success.

[00:15:42.810] - Joya

So I wonder what you would say to that.

[00:15:45.760] - Lindsey

I love numbers. I am happy to send an Excel spreadsheet for hours on end. I'm definitely a numbers person, as is my co founder. So I think that's like an unfair, potentially broad generalization about women, obviously.

[00:16:02.690] - Joya

Let me ask you a different way, though. What would you say to someone that has that position? They don't love their numbers, but they need to learn to love them.

[00:16:10.290] - Lindsey

Find a partner or someone on your team that loves numbers and can distill it down for you and tell you, or you can figure out where the problem areas are. Maybe you don't want to dive into the data and know the out of stock and rates for each store, but get someone on your team that can pull that data and present it to you and present maybe an action plan, or you can then you definitely need the data and need to understand it. I wasn't potentially in periscope putting together the reports and doing the sequel queries, but I had access to all the data and could request those reports and stuff like that. And obviously, if you're a CEO, you have to work closely with accountants, your finance department, whomever it might be, to really understand your cash flow, how the business is doing, your growth. So I do think numbers are extremely important.

[00:17:07.710] - Joya

All right, let's talk about scale, because how did you scale and meet the demand that really blossom during the pandemic?

[00:17:19.050] - Lindsey

Yes, I mean, I feel like most businesses scale and they can predict the next month numbers based on kind of their coworkers or their last month's performance, but obviously no one could predict the pandemic. So our business kind of went from zero to 60 overnight, which is not normal. And we were lucky to be a pandemic beneficiary. So could have in mid March of 2020, our business grew just tremendously. Our new buyers grew by six or 700%. So every metric was up into the right, like sales, stores wanting to get on the platform, advertising partners wanting to partner with us. So we partnered with all the big advertising firms, and they would do I mean, we partnered with all the big liquor brands and they would do advertising on our platform. So every metric except our customer service metrics and our late and our on time deliveries and our out of stocks, all those metrics did not do well, obviously, because we weren't prepared, we weren't staffed for a business that was much bigger from a customer service standpoint. Obviously, the liquor stores, like their delivery people were getting sick. They were afraid to come into work, so they had a hard time kind of scaling with the demand for delivery.

[00:18:40.110] - Lindsey

And so we tried to work with all our store partners to make it as easy as possible to deal with the new demand, but they were literally on the front lines and it was a crazy time. We were lucky, though, that our customer service team was already all remote. They were already work from home, so that required no transition, no changes. They had everything they needed at home, so that was great. And then our corporate team probably about like half or a little bit less. They were kind of throughout the country, so also work from home. But it was a shift. I think the people in New York, we all really enjoyed coming to the office. We loved the camaraderie, and we did kind of have to transition to working from home. The hours were longer because our business was thriving and we were a small team trying to kind of juggle a lot of balls at the time. But it was also really exciting. It's fun when your business is growing dramatically, and we've been kind of waiting for that tipping point for people to really become aware of and be using on a regular basis on demand delivery.

[00:19:46.090] - Joya

What did you observe about that time period? What was the biggest trend that you saw? Yes, business was growing, but I'm sure there's like a great study of human behavior that was happening at that time, too.

[00:19:58.010] - Lindsey

Yeah, it was interesting. So prepandemic wine sales were 50% of our business and spirits were 30% just for easy round numbers. And in the pandemic, spirits grew tremendously. It took over from beer, it took over from wine. I think people really got into the cocktail culture and we saw kind of more of the long tail spirits being bought. I equate it to the cooking craze. How can all the yeast and all that stuff was selling out? Because people were making bread and cooking at home. I think people no longer could go to bars and restaurants and get their cocktails, and so they had time at their hands. They weren't going anywhere, so they were now making fancy cocktails at home. So we really saw spirits sales go up a lot. Wine came down a little and beer came down actually a fair amount. So people really were switching to kind of experimenting and trying stuff at home that they could no longer have at bars or restaurants.

[00:21:03.950] - Joya

I imagine when your business is scaling by 600%, it's a real test of your leadership. What did you learn about yourself?

[00:21:11.610] - Lindsey

I learned I had to kind of let go a little bit more and trust my team. I have a wonderful team that has been they have all been there for years, so that was great. But I feel like you kind of have to let go a little bit more. And when you build your own business, you want to have your hands and everything and know everything that's going on. But at that point, we are all just stretched really thin. So I just had to let go a little bit and let trust and know that I know the team, I've hired the team, and that they're going to make the best decisions and I can trust them. So I think that was a really important leadership lesson that I've taken to this day.

[00:21:52.420] - Joya

And what would you say was the most critical toggle that you made, like technically or strategically at that moment when you're growing that fast?

[00:22:00.120] - Lindsey

So we kind of obvious it's fun to build the sexy stuff that's consumer facing and new tools and new stuff on your website and see how that does. We shifted all of our resources to building tools for the stores and customer service because that was the area that was struggling, that's the area that needed help and would in the end help our end consumers. So we shifted all tech resources basically to building back end stuff. And the other thing we did also, which was exciting and fun. So a large portion of our business prepandemic was corporate happy hour. So like offices ordering beer for their team on Fridays. Obviously that went to zero because no one was in the office to be enjoying that happy hour. So what we did is we saw that and including our team, a lot of teams were doing like zoom happy hours, right? So what we shifted and we launched gift cards. So then companies could send gift cards to everyone on their team. They could order what they wanted for the zoom happy hour. So that business, our gift card business really took off in 2020. And we did a massive amount of business through that.

[00:23:13.880] - Lindsey

And what was kind of a great side benefit was basically other people were paying to acquire customers for us because they were sending a gift card to a friend, to an employee, whatever it might be. And that employee now has free money to go spend on Minibar and explore our site and find out about our site. So that was also a great addition to Minibar to help us kind of grow.

[00:23:37.890] - Joya

When you think about innovation, and I know you have now since exited the business, but when you're doing all of this stuff, how do you silo time to keep thinking new?

[00:23:55.030] - Lindsey

That's a good question. I feel like sometimes we would have like team meetings and just do like brainstorm meetings, which would be fun. I feel like sometimes you would have to just schedule like an hour on your calendar to not have meetings scheduled or have other stuff going on to kind of free up that time. I feel like it was more that in the morning making breakfast for my kids. You're not as focused, but you're kind of always thinking about it. So maybe thinking about ideas then and kind of your off hours. But I feel like you're always thinking about ways to improve the business, ways to improve obviously or revenue. And what's great about a startup is you can test stuff really quickly and easily. I feel like a startup is more like driving a speedboat you can turn quickly as opposed to a giant company, which is more like driving a tanker where it takes a lot of people and a lot of time to make a change in direction. So, like gift cards, for example, we were like, let's try this out. And we kind of just threw it up there and saw what happened.

[00:25:00.540] - Lindsey

And then we built it out in a much more like, thoughtful, nicely designed, much more user friendly way where you could send gift cards to 50 people at once over time. Once we realized that was the right move, then we focused on it a lot more and dove a lot more deeply into it.

[00:25:18.050] - Joya

We've got some comments starting to come in. Someone said the team is everything. As I read once, the more important the dream, the bigger the team. I want to invite anybody who is listening to this conversation right now to please put your questions in the comments section and I'll ask them. As we are wrapping up our conversation here with Lindsay, I want to move to the topic of succession planning because as I mentioned, you have since left the business, but you kind of had to really think about the Acolytes. The people that you're going to groom so that you can exit with peace of mind. So how did you bring along some of the people that were maybe going into the stores and doing sales or the young college graduate that was doing kind of Girl Friday and Man Friday things?

[00:26:05.650] - Lindsey

Yeah, I mean, I think it becomes clear who the rock stars are and the people who always go above and beyond. You don't need to give them a task. They will find something to work on. They will find the area that needs improvement and they'll just run and go. We were lucky to actually have many of those types of people on our team. Our COO, our chief operating officer, started at Minibars, our Dallas city manager. And he was absolutely wonderful. He was with us for years and years and years and just kept showing that he could take on more, that he could do more and just thrive. So when we sold the business to Reserve Bar. He was COO and he's since become COO of the combined entity, which is awesome. And then the same in marketing. We had a great person. She actually started out like jack of all trades, doing a lot of customer service and stuff like that and in the end was running all marketing and all brand advertising for Minibar. So all the branding, all our advertising, which was 50% of our revenue, she was running. And she continues to be at the new entity, which is awesome.

[00:27:15.880] - Lindsey

Or she's at Reserve Bar now, which is awesome. So it's just having those people that are rock stars, will be partners in the journey, and can also handle the ups and downs. A startup is not for everyone. It definitely takes a strong stomach. The highs are very high, the lows are very low. It's not kind of like a job which is a little bit more steady state. So I feel like you also need teammates and partners that can handle that uncertainty and a little bit of craziness.

[00:27:51.070] - Joya

What we always talk about though is that you need to make time to be a leader, right? So when you identify that this person is a rock star, you also have to put time aside from your already overloaded schedule to start grooming them for that next step. So how did you find time to make sure that these people are being brought along to eventually take over in the way they have?

[00:28:13.830] - Lindsey

Yeah, I mean, I think the team is one of the most important parts of the company. Without them, you're not doing anything and you need those people to people generally don't just come to work at a startup for a salary because it's going to be less. They have skin in the game, they have equity, they're excited, they want to learn. And you usually get to do jobs kind of like above your pay grade. You get to do jobs in other departments that you don't work in because it's kind of all hands on deck. So I think really giving those people the learning opportunity and giving them a voice and a seat at the table makes a huge difference. And I think having that diversity around the table and different opinions makes the company better. And so we tried to do a lot of like team building stuff. We tried to do all the things that make a team feel cohesive and valued because without them you're nothing.

[00:29:14.520] - Joya

What's an example of one thing that you did in the spirit of team building? Because again, this is a conversation that comes up often.

[00:29:23.510] - Lindsey

Most companies do, I guess, but during the holiday season we would obviously have a team holiday event and everyone be flown in. But we would also do the Santa letters from the post office. One person on the team would manage it. We'd all request however many letters we wanted. You shop and buy the presents. And then Mini Bar would have all the wrapping paper and the ribbon and what not. And so we'd all have like, a wrapping party and wrap all the presents we've gotten and then donate that to the Santa letters, doing some fun stuff. We would do volunteer events maybe like once or twice a year altogether. We work in a soup kitchen and do stuff like that. So I feel like those bonding things that aren't all about work bring people together and you get to know everyone a little bit better and it's fun and it feels good.

[00:30:19.740] - Joya

And it sounds like you had a charitable bent to a lot of the things that you did in the spirit of team building.

[00:30:24.400] - Lindsey

Yes. Some of them certainly were about drinking and like, cocktail classes and stuff. So we were not altruistic, but yes, some of the events were volunteer events, which was a lot of fun.

[00:30:36.730] - Joya

You brought up Reserve Bar. So what happened? The company grew to a certain point and then you were ready to exit?

[00:30:42.990] - Lindsey

Yes. So back in, I guess, early 2021, the alcohol industry with the Pandemic and just kind of all these companies growing had gotten a lot of attention. Our competitors were bought by Uber Eats. A lot of the big companies like Reserve Bar raised a large Round, Vivino raised a large round. So we thought we were getting a lot of interest from other players in the industry. So we decided it was our time to explore what's next. Obviously, we had investors. We've been doing this for seven or eight years, so we thought it was time to kind of find a partner. So we went through kind of like the normal M and A process and found great partners in Reserve Bar and move forward with them and ultimately close that deal in November of 2021. And so they are now the owners of Minibar. Most of the team is there and they're kind of taking over and helping the combined entity and Minibar grow and take it to the next level.

[00:31:45.040] - Joya

I noticed there are some questions coming in. Please put them in the comment section so I can ask them directly to Lindsay. And you have direct access to Lindsay to ask whatever's top of mind. What's next? You've given up baby number one. Now you have baby two and three in your house.

[00:32:01.330] - Lindsey

But what two at the moment?

[00:32:03.360] - Joya

But yes, baby number one.

[00:32:05.120] - Joya

I'm assuming it was your business.

[00:32:07.470] - Lindsey

Yes. So I think I'm an entrepreneur at heart. So always thinking about the next idea. I think it's a little bit scary because when you pick the idea and kind of move forward, you feel like you're committing the next five to ten years because once you hire people, raise money, you kind of made a promise and a commitment. So I'm at that exploratory phase now and networking, talking to people about ideas, researching ideas, but I don't have the one or I'm not sure if I have the one that I'm going to do next. But I'm excited. I like the early stage. I like hiring teams, I like knowing everyone's name on your team and getting to know everyone. So I'm excited for what's next. I just don't know what it is yet.

[00:32:59.950] - Joya

Well, for anybody who is in your shoes and is maybe thinking about what they want to do for the first time, how do you structure that process? Because now all of a sudden I'm not saying you've got loads of time on your hands, but that time becomes a big amoeba. It's managed in a constructive way. So what's the advice that you provide to somebody who's in that space now?

[00:33:23.230] - Lindsey

Yeah, so I've done a couple of things. One is right when I left Reserve Bar, I wanted to make sure that doing another entrepreneurial venture was what I wanted to do. So I explored both working in a larger company as well as kind of jumping to the other side of the table and exploring like venture capital. Talking to people in both of those kind of positions, I realized that I do want to do another start up. So that was kind of the first step. And then I kind of made a list of ideas and started crossing the silly one off the list. Sometimes if the idea I'm really interested in I might build like a quick financial model that's super duper simple just to see if the numbers make sense at a very high level. I have other friends who are kind of in between roles as well, kind of maybe they've exited or they're switching jobs. So I'll brainstorm with them and have kind of calls and be like, oh, can I tell you this idea? Like, what do you think? And they'll usually provide great insights or sit here or you should talk to my friend here.

[00:34:29.710] - Lindsey

And so I kind of follow that down the rabbit hole and yeah, so I mean I think it's really helpful to bounce ideas off of people instead of kind of sitting just alone in my apartment at my computer for hours on end in my own head. So I do really enjoy meeting other entrepreneurs, bouncing my ideas, meeting people in the industry. But I do worry that it will just keep going and I need to kind of commit to something.

[00:34:59.660] - Joya

Yeah, I mean I in the last twelve have really started investing in a sales coach. I've invested in a business coach and I think about how much money is going out the door and if I really thought about it, I'd probably never get out of bed.

[00:35:11.000] - Lindsey


[00:35:12.430] - Joya

What is your thought on that? At any point in time, did you enlist that kind of help?

[00:35:17.090] - Lindsey

I have, yes. So I've had a business coach, I've had a negotiation coach. Both of them I really enjoyed working with. I had kind of like a startup CEO network roundtable. So I think we'd meet like once a month and so we're all kind of going through similar but different issues and everyone would present their issue and then people would provide feedback. So that was also very helpful. Right now I talked to someone I worked with at Quidsi that also did a start up and is kind of thinking about what's next as well. So the two of us have a weekly call and just bounce ideas off of each other and then use our networks to kind of dive in and see what's a good idea.

[00:36:01.830] - Joya

Yes, we have a question coming in. Who are three people that you talk to when you are trying to figure out what's next and how did you choose them?

[00:36:11.410] - Lindsey

I mean, I'll talk to anyone but some of the more recent people I've spoken to. So the one I was just mentioning, AJ Corey, he started Urban Stem, so we kind of like brainstorm ideas. I enjoy his feedback tremendously. He always has great insights about anything I'll tell him and is always happy to lend a helping advice. So he is great. I've spoken to and kind of shared ideas with people in the VC world. So Alexa Von Tobel, who's amazing and started Inspired Capital and sold her last business as well. I'll sometimes bounce ideas off of her because she sees everything, because everyone's presenting to her. And then usually with my husband, I'll get his feedback and see what he thinks from a totally different perspective. So those are some of the people I'll talk to.

[00:37:01.630] - Joya

I want to welcome some more questions because we've got Lindsay for a few more minutes here. Lindsey, when you think about your partner, this is something else that always comes up. The person that you marry or the person that you partner up with is often some of the most important business decisions you'll ever make since you broach that subject. What would you say about that?

[00:37:19.930] - Lindsey

Yeah. I mean. I think it's great having a partner to do a business with and share the responsibility and maybe there are many highs and lows and if someone is having a tough day. The other person probably isn't and can help talk someone off the ledge or come up with creative ideas or help you work through something. Or you can actually maybe take a vacation. Sort of. Because they're there to take over and answer or put out any fires that come up. So it is great having a partner. My partner and I at Minibar, we had sort of similar backgrounds. We both came from a marketing background, though she did more brand, I did more like direct response and growth. But I would say a lot of VCs were asked, you guys have the same skill sets. And we would say, no, we don't. They're actually complementary and we come from different backgrounds. But also it's always great to have someone technical on the team as well from an early stage, if you're not technical, but it is a large commitment who you're partnering with and the pros and cons. Like having a partner, it's great to have someone to vent, to have someone go out and fundraise with, someone to bounce ideas off of and really do it together.

[00:38:42.290] - Lindsey

But I would say when you're actually a sole CEO, which I was the last two years at Minibar, you can move a lot faster. There's less like consensus being like, oh, let me check, great idea, but before we do that, let me run that on the flagpole or let us confer. Whereas you can just make a decision and move and run faster and you can just respond to emails, you can reach out to VCs. So there are definitely pros and cons to that. But you need great people in an organization, regardless of if they're your partner or on your team. So that's always a requirement of a business and a start up.

[00:39:21.730] - Joya

I think I was talking about romantic partner too, right? The person that you marry is also a huge business decision, right?

[00:39:28.750] - Lindsey

I guess my husband is like wildly supportive and has been a wonderful partner through all the crazy ups and downs of Minibar and is always willing to help and do whatever he can. So he's been great and read through my investor decks or VC pitches. He's probably heard them ten times. He could probably do this interview with himself even though he's never worked at Minibar.

[00:39:59.290] - Joya

When you think about fundraising, I imagine that landscape has changed drastically since you raised the first round of money. What would you say to that?

[00:40:08.230] - Lindsey

I would say it has not changed drastically enough. I would say it's still very heavily like, male and most of the funding still goes to male CEOs, so I hope it's changing. And, you know, we had ANU Dugal who started Female Founders Fund on our camp table and so thrilled about that and thrilled about what she's doing and growing her fund. Each fund is bigger and she's investing in great companies and supporting great female founders. So I feel like we need more people like that and more VCs like that, but it's good. People are now looking at the data and seeing how underrepresented females, minorities are in the startup landscape. But we had great investors on our cap table. We raised initially kind of like a friends and family round in 2014 and then a venture round in 2017. And a lot of people, all our kind of institutional investors from the first round re up in our second round. So people were definitely very supportive and I enjoyed working with all of our investors and so would love to partner with them again going forward. But it is hard fundraising. I would think this environment is very hard and I think also alcohol is viewed a bit as a vice, so I think it was hard fundraising for that as well.

[00:41:38.770] - Lindsey

So it's definitely challenging and a skill that needs to be practiced.

[00:41:44.950] - Joya

So that's the next question. What are your top three tips for fundraising for money in this environment today?

[00:41:53.350] - Lindsey

Have a model and a presentation and a business plan that gets you to some profitable place fairly quickly, I would say. I would say practice your pitch a lot and start with the people that you're least interested in getting money from, so you can practice as well as understand what the questions are going to be so you can be better prepared for each meeting after that. And I would just say putting together a great deck makes you answer a lot of those questions. So make sure you have peers review that deck, go through it so they can see where the holes are. We actually hired a designer to help us make the deck. So obviously we made the content, but they made it look extremely polished and looked great when we were kind of small.

[00:42:43.570] - Joya

This is a topic that comes up as well. This is a questio. what if you're a woman of color? And traditionally, if women don't get VC money, women of color get even less. But access is the big issue here. That's the question. So how do you start to even begin to have access to VCs?

[00:43:06.850] - Lindsey

Yes, we kind of used our network. Luckily, we had other friends who have started businesses before us. So, for example, Female Founders Fund. Two friends I worked with at Quidsi, they had started a business and had gotten funding for Female Founders Funds. So they introduced us. Obviously we still had to pitch, make our case, but it got us in the room, or at least got us an introduction to then have them say they would meet with us. So we did a lot of that, like asking people to introduce us to other people at VCs. If a VC turned us down, we might ask them why. We might ask them who would be a better VC to partner with. Could you make an introduction? What would make you interested? What metrics are you looking for? All of those questions to keep improving our pitch and business model. And I hope with the metrics that things start to change and I hope the biases are reduced and we start to see the numbers really improving. I think they are improving just very, very slowly, unfortunately.

[00:44:21.670] - Joya

Lindsay, this has been great and learning your story. What's a question I should have asked you that I haven't asked you. As a recovering journalist. That's always my last question I ask.

[00:44:30.390] - Lindsey

Oh, goodness, that's a good question. I feel like that's actually my last reference question when I'm doing hiring and calling references, is what have you told me that I should know in confidence? And then just let a pregnant pause. And so they'll usually fill the air and tell you something you didn't ask and were surprised to learn. So I feel like that's a very helpful question because they do think hiring is hard and doing reference calls, usually the references people are giving you are going to sing their praises, so kind of trying to get under that layer. So it helps with the hiring. So I do think the questions you ask when you're hiring make a huge difference. But there are no secrets, kind of to pull back and reveal a Minibar. But it was a really exciting ride, and it was an experience both doing fundraising when it's kind of more male dominated and alcohol is certainly a more male dominated industry as well, but that's definitely changing.

[00:45:34.730] - Joya

Lindsay, thank you for the time today. I really appreciate it. Any last words?

[00:45:39.340] - Lindsey

No. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:45:41.460] - Joya

Yeah, well, I want to just do a little pitch for my Mastermind. I have a business mastermind that runs from January to December, and I'm now enrolling for next year's Mastermind. And part of the programming is having women like Lindsay coming in and lending of her expertise for any challenges that you might be having. So, Lindsey, thank you for being with us today. My business Mastermind starts in January, and if you want to be able to enroll in that, you can always email me at joya@joyadass.com. Lindsay, have a great, great Thursday.

[00:46:10.820] - Lindsey

Thank you. You too, Joya. I appreciate it. Take care. Bye.