Honeyfund’s CEO And Co-Founder, Sara Margulis

You are preparing your desire marriage and an even dreamier honeymoon. When you and your spouse established out to populate your marriage registry, you comprehend you currently have all the dishes, tiny appliances, and cocktail shakers you need to have – right after all, you’re both of those adults. What you definitely need is some time absent together to launch your life in a memorable style.

Which is what took place to Sara Margulis and her fiancé Josh when they made a decision to inquire their wedding day friends to assistance underwrite their honeymoon in lieu of presents. They founded their possess business enterprise to support other individuals do the very same, and now, Honeyfund is the most trustworthy funds gifting web site. The platform has permitted 6 million givers to fund much more than $640 million in presents for a lot more than a person million partners. I spoke with Sara about shifting occupations from advertising to tech start out-up, the Shark Tank outcome, hanging out on her individual, and balancing family lifetime with operating her personal enterprise.

Shelley Zalis: You previously labored as the affiliate director of marketing and advertising at Golden Gate University. How did you choose to make a profession change and launch your own firm at Honeyfund? What was your lightbulb minute?

Sara Margulis: Honeyfund’s co-founder and I were being engaged to be married and preparing our personal marriage, and we had this desire of honeymooning somewhere exotic and far absent like Fiji to get away from the tension of two complete-time employment. But we didn’t have the money soon after spending for our personal wedding. So as an alternative of registering completely for regular housewares, we made a makeshift want checklist for the expenditures linked with our Fiji honeymoon – issues like excursions, vacation resort evenings, island hopping flights, etc. Our marriage company overcome us with far more than $5,000 in contributions, but more importantly, they cherished the notion. They asked us to make some thing like it for other couples. Which is how Honeyfund was born.

I experienced just graduated with an MBA in advertising and my co-founder is a program engineer. I had been doing the job at Golden Gate University on advertising and marketing tasks these kinds of as the university’s new web site, e-mail marketing and advertising systems, and a CRM implementation. We took the idea and enthusiasm from our personal marriage attendees, and all that specialist track record, and produced and released Honeyfund.com from our couch.

SZ: How a lot prior experience, if any, did you have in the startup market just before launching Honeyfund? How did your time on Shark Tank catapult your journey?

SM: We were being in San Francisco in the early 2000s when the know-how startup growth was taking place all all around us. We experienced good friends at Twitter when it first released, for illustration. Neither of us definitely had any direct knowledge in startups, but we could generate and regulate tasks. And we both of those experienced a desire of currently being monetarily independent and acquiring a versatile plan so we could be there for our potential young children.

In 2013 we were living that desire: the business enterprise was supporting our loved ones and we had all the versatility we envisioned. We experienced purchased our desire home and we experienced two healthy young children who were being growing up in an idyllic town in Sonoma County, California.

When Shark Tank referred to as, we had to make a tough determination – do we develop past our lifestyle enterprise and enter the globe of a fast-expanding startup? Using on expense money, figuring out precisely how we preferred to deploy it, being aware of how to unlock the subsequent stage of growth – people have been all unfamiliar to us. Beginning a little something is incredibly diverse from rising it.

However, we felt it was the appropriate point to do for the Honeyfund brand name and our member group. So we applied for the demonstrate and got forged. Our episode aired in October 2013 and it was a strike! Our site crashed from all the traffic. We had been so thrilled to have the focus on the Honeyfund brand. We realized that at the time men and women experienced read of Honeyfund they cherished the strategy. So our Shark Tank visual appearance and the deal with Kevin O’Leary released us on to the countrywide phase. This drove a lot much more website traffic and members, but it also introduced us the notoriety to sort large-amount partnerships, this kind of as our registry integration with Goal.

SZ: What are the benefits and drawbacks that appear with a profession changeover and branching out on your personal to launch a company?

SM: We had been very blessed that Honeyfund was very well been given and grew alone to the position that we had been capable to make a great living prior to becoming on Shark Tank. That was period 1 of the transition from operating for somebody else to working for ourselves. It was what we had dreamed of. So we felt we were taking pleasure in all the strengths of undertaking our personal factor.

But the business enterprise was escalating more quickly than we had been. It required a lot more from us. We didn’t have adequate workforce to provide our partners and sustain the web page. That introduced us into a growth section that was truly challenging to master how to deal with – we didn’t have the expertise there. In the long run just after a extensive and winding street, we break up up and I bought my co-founder out of the firm. So that stage of growth arrived with a ton of strain and difficulties. And I felt pulled in so numerous instructions as a mother, wife, and organization operator. I stopped using treatment of myself and burned out. Then Covid hit and I faced another large obstacle with the enterprise, this time on your own at the helm. I had to acquire a very long look in the mirror and request myself if I had what it usually takes to be certain Honeyfund could endure a 90% drop in revenues and a pandemic with no stop in sight.

I determined to phase up and do my very best to keep the enterprise going for its users and workers. I invested a ton in growing as a leader, hired a management crew to handle the growth, and clarified my part in the organization. We released a crowdfunding campaign to invite our associates and gift givers to make investments in the company’s following phase of expansion. And we bought by way of! But people have been some of the hardest several years of my everyday living. Staying accountable for a business, a group, and consumers – it’s a big stress at occasions.

However the chance to mature and come to be the leader of something impressive arrives when in a life time – so the benefits significantly outweigh the drawbacks for me. I see it as a journey and I am ever-evolving together the way.

SZ: In the very last several decades, there has been an raising pattern of women of all ages leaving their work opportunities to start off their possess firms all through the Excellent Resignation. Based on your encounter, is there a “right” time or are there best situations for a job modify?

SM: The pull in between occupation and family is so tricky. In a good deal of techniques, a job with a sure range of several hours that you can go away and appear household is so considerably more healthy for that family harmony and your particular self-treatment than a commence-up. I would say there is no ideal time to get started your individual detail if you are passionate about it just do it. But with this a person caveat: gals with associates and/or young children should imagine very long and challenging about the amount of time and emphasis they want to be in a position to give their household. And then dedicate what is still left to a new venture. Absolutely everyone will inform you that you have to give 200% to a startup but that is genuinely not true. And it will lead to burnout so fast if you are not watchful.

In its place, commence your venture with a group that can give their entire concentrate. If you are holding the vision and aims, you can and need to reserve time for self-care and your relatives. I know this can be so tough to attain, but I’m a realist so I split it down like a uncomplicated math difficulty. I look at how several several hours I have in a 7 days and I attempt to initially prioritize my have self-care, then my time with my young ones and husband or wife, then my get the job done priorities.

I also contemplate the seasonality of my enterprise and my children’s college. Summer time is a terrific time to be in a position to give a minimal far more to kids and a tiny considerably less to the organization. But if you are starting a enterprise (like mine) that has high summertime requires it could be tricky. The critical is finding pretty real with your self about how a lot of hrs of target you are prepared to give to a new enterprise.

SZ: What information would you give to females seeking to modify their occupation but who sense discouraged or uncertain of wherever to start?

SM: I would say start off with a shift towards the market or skills you want to master and get truly great at these while operating for an individual else with continuous function hours, gains, and shell out. Or join a volunteer organization. Once you are self-assured in your abilities and know just how you will control your time and concentrate, then set up your new undertaking inside of those parameters.