Q&A with Tech Entrepreneur & MBA, Estee Goldschmidt
Estee Goldschmidt is the CEO and Co-Founder of ShopDrop, an app that helps fashion lovers find sample sales so they can wear brands they love for prices they can afford. Estee started working on the app while pursuing her MBA at Stern School of Business. Prior to Stern, she worked in marketing at Estee Lauder.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
Dressing fashionably on a budget had been a challenge from the time I worked at Estee Lauder. I was on a team of 3, managing over $400MM in annual sales, and making around $50K a year. That left me living in a closet and eating noodles to save some money to shop at the 30% BCBG markdown at the end of the season. I was a young ambitious professional living in New York City – I should have been the queen of sample sales, except that I didn’t know what a sample sale was.
What inspired you to start your business?
I was inspired to create ShopDrop after experiencing my first sample sale. A friend from business school sent me to the Marc Jacobs sample sale, where I spent $200 on $2,000 worth of items. That was the eureka moment for me.
How do I open this world of luxury designer clothing for mass prices to a larger relevant audience? That’s where ShopDrop and I clicked.
Where is your business based?
ShopDrop is currently based in NY.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
I joined the business as a consultant in December. My first steps were geared toward building awareness, and I did that by growing our social media presence, running events, showing up at sample sales to talk to shoppers and by spamming friends. Ultimately, ShopDrop took over my life and with time, I started playing a larger role in the company,.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Word of mouth and press have been the most effective tools for us to grow our business. This story from last week is a great example: a woman walked into our sample sale and when ShopDrop came up, she started screaming: ‘My friend knew about the app. She knew about it and didn’t tell me!!’ She was furious with her friend for not sharing information about ShopDrop. Ultimately, this kind of attitude will ensure loyalty among our users.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge was developing relationships with brands. At first, our traffic was too insignificant to make a difference to the brands. As our audience grew, brands became more willing and interested to engage with us. Another tool we developed was a detailed database of brands and contacts, which we then leverage to build connections with brands that result in further perks for our users.
How do you stay focused?
Deadlines are the only way for us to maintain focus and to ensure that the app is progressing on schedule. On a weekly basis, we have different meetings with different teams: some are meant to keep us on track and others are there to inspire creativity and to force us to think of new ways to reach large audiences.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
None of our competitors move past discovery. There are numerous email lists (none of them complete) that list different sample sales. Our goal is to go beyond listing – to connect you with other shoppers, to show you what will be available, to check you out when you’re done and to use that data to recommend the next most relevant sample sale for you.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Our best organic marketing tool is Instagram. It is such an organic way for us to connect with users, explain what we are doing, show content from sample sales. Our followers naturally gravitate towards us and download the app as a result. The app and Instagram became two supporting networks where one feeds on and directs traffic to the other.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Keep plugging away. Most people quit too early. I was working on a functioning product for two full months before we had even one active monthly user that wasn’t one of the co-founders. It takes time to build awareness, fix mistakes and build a viable product. Giving up too early is one of the biggest mistakes.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
My favorite app is definitely ShopDrop. And I am not saying that because I am biased. People who discover the app wonder why it hasn’t existed earlier – and that’s exactly the kind of feeling people have about their favorite applications.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
My favorite business tool is Trello. It makes project management so easy by allowing for easy deadline setting, feedback, and tracking. For our app development, this has proven to be by far the most effective tool.
Who is your business role model? Why?
Estee Lauder is my role model. She came from a modest background and didn’t have any form of financial support. Yet she managed to establish a beauty empire by believing in herself and not taking no for an answer. Time after time, she was thrown out of department stores and told to never return again. That never deterred her.
As an entrepreneur trying to introduce a new form of discovery to an industry that hasn’t changed much in over 20 years, I hear "no" more often than I hear "yes". Whenever that happens, I think of the original Estee, my namesake, and push on.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
ShopDrop’s primary goal in the next six months is to validate ‘payment through the app’. This feature will enable a new way of offline shopping and will streamline our growth.
Our other exciting project on the horizon includes the ‘Traveling Sample Sale,’ where we bring the experience to WeWorks and other co-working spaces in New York, thereby introducing a whole new market segment to the world of sample sales.
How can our readers connect with you?
Please stay in touch to get the latest updates on sample sales, exclusive deals, and ShopDrop updates!