Jul 24 2013
Alt Summit SF keynote speaker recap
Post by melissa fenlon

Alt Summit recap from aliceandlois.comSara and I attended Alt Summit SF last week and were fortunate to hear two keynote speakers with some impressive companies – Mariam Naficy of minted.com and Mike McCue of Flipboard.

Mariam is the founder and CEO of the Minted brand. She has been a pioneer in internet models since 1998 when she co-founded Eve.com, an online cosmetics company. She ultimately sold that brand for over $100 million.

Mariam has not always had immediate success with her business ideas. For example, when she first started Eve.com, she and her team were told that it was a bad idea to sell women fashion and cosmetics online. “But I see it as a positive to be underestimated,” she said. “Sometimes the negativity and criticism can be so public, but listen to what the consumer tells you.”

Listening to her consumer is the cornerstone of Mariam’s successes. Listening to and talking to your consumer is a clarifying principle, she explained. “It’s shining a clear light through the fog,” she said.

When Minted began, they put a Feedback button on their homepage, and the button is still there today.

The growth of Minted was slow at first, but Mariam explained that you have to be willing to alter your original ideas and have the courage to look for small signs of success and go with it, even if it wasn’t your first intention for the business.

The Minted team saw this happen when they launched their crowd-sourcing design competition. “We watched it grow, but it wasn’t our original idea.”

Most successful businesses are built on a list of failures, she believes. “Have the courage to keep trying and not give up.”Alt Summit SF recap on aliceandlois.com

Mike McCue is a technology entrepreneur who in 2010 founded Flipboard. Since the 1990s he has been developing internet software companies such as Tellme and Paper Software.

Mike told the story of his trajectory into the world of technology, sometimes being the hero and at other times becoming the loser. The loser part being when he sold his first company. He and his financial team had come up with a price they thought was fair for his business. But when the buyer came to the table with that exact number on the first go around of negotiating, Mike enthusiastically said yes. His advisers were dismayed at his negotiating style. But what Mike took away from that experience is finding the win-win in negotiating. “Know what you want… and when you’ve reached what you want, be okay with it.”

Also be okay with whom you hire. “You never want to underestimate your team,” he said. “Teams need to feel a sense of purpose.”

Mike also needs to feel a sense of purpose. For him, running a company and raising a family fulfills that need. “It’s about doing something you love and giving your life some purpose. Raising a family and running a business, doing both is a treasure.”

He firmly believes technology can change the world. “We’re living in an amazing time… and you’re in it,” he said enthusiastically. “The journey is the reward, and I hope you have an amazing journey,” he concluded.

Stay tuned for our second installment on what we learned at Alt Summit SF. Thank you to Alt Summit SF for allowing us bloggers to use the beautiful photos taken by Brooke Dennis. She was the Alt SF official photographer, sponsored by atly.


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  • CorinaJuly 25, 2013 at 12:53 am

    So amazing, all the wonderful things you learn at Alt!
    It’s really wonderful to hear about it, thank you for sharing!

    And how wonderful your blog is? I’m already in love and following everywhere possible 🙂

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