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Honeyfund CEO and co-founder Sara Margulis

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You are planning your dream wedding and even more dreamy honeymoon. When you and your partner set out to fill out your wedding register, you realize that you already have all the dishes, small appliances, and cocktail shakers you need-after all. By the way, you are both adults.What are you For real The need is a while away together to start your life in a memorable way.

That’s what happened when Sarah Margris and her fiancé Josh decided to ask their wedding guests to help them undertake their honeymoon instead of a gift. They set up their own business to help others do the same, and today Honeyfund is the most trusted cash gift site. The platform has enabled 6 million donors to provide over $ 640 million in gifts to over 1 million couples. I talked to Sara about shifting her career from marketing to tech startups. Shark tank Balancing effectiveness, self-sufficiency, and family life with running your own company.

Sherry Zaris: You previously worked as an Associate Director of Marketing at Golden Gate University. How did you change jobs and decide to start your own company with Honeyfund? What was your light bulb moment?

Sarah Margris: Honeyfund co-founder and I were engaged in getting married and planning our wedding. I had a dream of going on a honeymoon in an exotic and distant place like Fiji to escape the stress of two full-time jobs. But after paying for our own wedding, we didn’t have the money. Therefore, instead of registering only for traditional household items, we have created a tentative wishlist for expenses related to Fiji’s honeymoon, such as excursions, resort nights, and island-hopping flights. Wedding guests overwhelmed us with donations of over $ 5,000, but more importantly, they liked the idea. They asked us to make something like it for other couples. That is the birth of Honeyfund.

I just got an MBA in marketing and the co-founder is a software engineer. At Golden Gate University, I was involved in marketing projects such as the university’s new website, email marketing program, and CRM implementation. We created and launched Honeyfund.com from the sofa, incorporating ideas and enthusiasm from our own wedding guests, and all their professional backgrounds.

SZ: How much experience did you have in the startup industry before launching Honeyfund?how was it Shark tank Would you like to catapult your journey?

SM: We were in San Francisco in the early 2000s when a technology startup boom was happening around us. For example, I had friends when Twitter was first released. Neither had direct experience at startup, but I was able to create and manage projects. And we both had the dream of being financially independent and having a flexible schedule so that we could be there for future children.

In 2013, we lived that dream. The business supported our family and had all the flexibility we envisioned. We bought a dream home and had two healthy children who grew up in a peaceful town in Sonoma County, California.

when Shark tank We had to make a difficult decision, called – will we grow beyond the lifestyle business and enter the world of fast-growing startups? We know how to take on investment capital, know exactly how we want to develop it, and unleash the next phase of growth. All of these were unfamiliar to us. Starting something is very different from growing it.

Still, I felt it was right for the Honeyfund brand and the member community. So we applied for the show and got the cast. Our episode aired in October 2013 and was a huge hit. Our site crashed from all traffic. I was very excited to pay attention to the Honeyfund brand. When I heard about Honeyfund, I knew I liked the idea. So the look of our Shark Tank and the deal with Kevin O’Leary have taken us to the national stage. This has significantly increased traffic and membership, but it has also been notorious for forming high-level partnerships, such as the integration of the registry with Target.

SZ: What are the strengths and weaknesses of branching yourself to transition your career and start a business?

SM: I was very fortunate that Honeyfund was well received and I was able to live a good life before joining. Shark tank.. It was Phase 1 of the transition from working for someone else to working for ourselves. That was what we dreamed of. So we felt we enjoyed all the benefits of doing our own thing.

But the business was growing faster than we were. It needed more from us. There weren’t enough employees to serve the couple and maintain the site. It launched us into a growth stage where it’s really hard to learn how to manage us-we had no experience there. After following a long and winding road, we broke up and bought the co-founder from the company. As a result, that stage of growth was accompanied by a lot of stress and challenges. And I felt like I was being pulled in many directions like my mother, my wife, and my business owner. I stopped taking care of myself and burned out. Then Covid was a hit and I faced another big challenge in my business. This time I steered alone. I had to take a closer look in the mirror and ask myself if there was anything I needed to allow Honeyfund to withstand a 90% drop in revenue and an endless pandemic.

I decided to step up and do my best to keep the company alive for its members and employees. I invested heavily in my growth as a leader, hired a leadership team to manage my growth, and clarified my role in the company. We launched a crowdfunding campaign to encourage members and gift providers to invest in the company’s next stage of growth. And we went through! But they were some of the most difficult years of my life. Responsibility for the company, team, and customers can sometimes be a heavy burden.

But the benefits to me far outweigh the drawbacks, as the opportunity to grow and become a leader in something remarkable comes once in a lifetime. I see it as a journey and it is constantly evolving in the process.

SZ: Over the last few years, there has been an increasing tendency for women to quit their jobs and start their own businesses during the Great Resignation. Based on your experience, is there an “appropriate” time, or is there an ideal situation for a career change?

SM: Inquiries between careers and families are very difficult. In many respects, the specific number of hours of work you can get out of is much healthier than a startup for the balance of the family and your personal self-care. I don’t think there is a good time to start about yourself. If you are passionate about it, do it. However, there is one caveat. Women with partners and children need to think long and seriously about the time and concentration they want to give their families. And dedicate what remains to a new venture. Everyone will tell you that you have to give the startup 200%, but that’s not really true. Also, if you are not careful, you will have burnout syndrome.

Instead, start your adventure with a team that can give them full focus. If you have a vision and goals, you can and should reserve time for self-care and your family. This can be very difficult to achieve, but I’m a realist, so I break it down like a simple math problem. Looking at how many hours a week I have, I try to prioritize my self-care first, then my time with my child or partner, and then my work.

I also consider the seasonality of my business and my child’s school. Summer is a great time to give your kids a little more and your business a little more. But if you’re starting a business with high summer demand (like me), that can be difficult. The important thing is to be very realistic on your own about how many hours you can focus on your new venture.

SZ: What advice would you give to a woman who wants to change her career but doesn’t know where to start or feels discouraged?

SM: I think you’ll be able to really get good at them while working for someone else with stable working hours, profits, and wages, starting with a shift to the industry or skill you want to learn. Or join a volunteer organization. Once you are confident in your skills and have an accurate understanding of how to manage your time and concentration, set up new ventures within those parameters.

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