Name: Bua Semapakdi
Business: Luvlings, Inc., personalized product search experience
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Reason for starting: Before becoming a mom I had a specialty gifts and lifestyle boutique (online and a physical store). I would attend tradeshows in the US and abroad and see all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) things that were made. Half of that stuff consumers don’t get to see or buy because retailers are the middle man filtering what is available to consumers. Surfacing those options became a bit better with Web 2.0 and Social Networks, however, the problem still remains.
After becoming a mom, the amount of stuff I had to buy for my own family grew exponentially. With less time, more stuff to research before buying, and so much insight data out there, the product search experience became quite daunting. On top of that, some products had thousands of reviews and combing through those became impossible. Also, knowing how much stuff was out there, but that I couldn’t see or access was frustrating. All I wanted was to find information and things that were relevant to me. The tools available were limited, so I decided to create a new solution. I also needed flexibility in my work schedule and to set my own rules. I wanted to start an empathetic business that worked to make big changes in the world, but also small and personal changes on an individual level.
How do you define success? Something I am continually working on…
Biggest Success: Raising my two kids. And throwing a pretty good birthday party. At the end of the day, planning a kid’s birthday party is like the product design work I do for my startup. I have a vision for the party, I make plans, then I execute. I know even the most intricately designed plans will not go quite the way I envisioned. The guests (and my users) will ultimately make the party their own. It’s really a collaboration and success is defined by whether your guests had a good time (and no one got hurt).
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? My top challenge is time. I strive to make efficient use of the time spent on my business, so when I have to switch gears to my family I don’t feel too stressed. It’s still a struggle to make it work every day, but I have a wonderful and supportive husband, which helps a lot. Self-promotion is not my strong suit. Thinking about how my product solves a real problem for real people allows me to take myself out of the picture and focus on the value to users.
Who is your most important role model? My parents and my kids. My parents because of their work ethics and always believing in me. My kids because as I teach them to believe in themselves, dream big, and persevere I get to reflect on that and know that I need to do the same!
Edited by The Story Exchange