3 Questions with a Tech Lady: Camille Hearst, co-founder and CEO of Kit

Camille_Hearst

Interview by Breanne Thomas

Hi Camille! What made you take the leap from working at other tech companies like Apple and Google to striking out on your own to launch Kit?

I grew up in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s, so I witnessed the first dot-com boom and bust firsthand. My parents are musicians and artists, so I’ve always been around people who hustle. I studied entrepreneurship when I was at Stanford, first as a Mayfield Fellow, and then as a graduate student. So for me, I’ve always felt like I would strike out on my own.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at and get my initial “training” at amazing companies like Apple, YouTube, Google, and even Hailo (even though they didn’t turn out as we’d hoped) during the early stages of my career. For me, leaving to work on Kit was a question of the timing being right, as well as the team and the idea.

When I first met Naveen Selvadurai (of Expa) and we started jamming on the idea for Kit, I was at a crosspoint in my career where it made sense to start applying everything I’d picked up over the years; the more we worked on Kit, the more I fell in love with the vision we were crafting and the problem we decided to set out to solve — helping people discover the best products for them so that they can get on with living life.

What’s it like working at Kit?

The team at Kit is brilliant — we are collectively ex-Apple, Google, YouTube, Gilt, and Foursquare, as well as a former professional DJ; and we are diverse, inclusive, and a lot of fun. Working with smart, talented people really can make all the difference in your outlook.

Couple that with clear set goals, open communication, and a mission we are all hungry to solve, and coming to work feels really satisfying. In such a small environment, you can see and feel your impact firsthand, and I think this kind of opportunity attracts people who want to leave their mark on the world — and it shows.

Late last year, you and your team announced that you had raised $2.5 million in your seed round to grow Kit. Congratulations! Do you have any advice for other Tech Ladies who want to get funded, especially at that scale?

Fundraising is really, really hard. My main piece of advice is to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally, and to take care of yourself physically and spiritually throughout the process as well.

I used to play basketball growing up, and I found this great article on mental toughness for high school girls’ basketball coaches that I actually think applies to fundraising and entrepreneurship as well. A lot of people think they have these traits, but it’s not until you’re really in a situation where you can forge those skills that you can 1) see what you’re made of and 2) continue to develop the skills. The advice in the article is awesome and I found it incredibly encouraging when things were tough.