Online vendors no longer need store fronts or even websites to sell products online - Meet Katherine Hague and her company ShopLocket!
Katherine Hague is the co-founder of ShopLocket, a Toronto based startup that wants to make it easy for everyone to sell anything online from anywhere. On this new platform users are able to sell without ever needing a store front or even a website – according to Katherine selling on ShopLocket can be as easy as sharing a link or embedding a video. I recently caught up with Katherine to learn a bit more about the launching of her new company.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and the start-up story behind Shop Locket.
Katherine: I was doing some theme development for Shopify and running a small consulting business on the side. I had some shirts that I wanted to sell for the business but there didn’t seem to be a good solution to the problem. Building out a full online store seemed like over-kill for a single product and listing in a marketplace just seemed too unprofessional. It seemed like I had a simple problem—I only had one product to sell—but there wasn’t a good solution to that problem. ShopLocket was born out of that need.
Q: What are some of the projects you are working on right now?
Katherine: I’m currently doing a HackerYou course on HTML and CSS. For those that don’t know HackerYou is an amazing organization co-founded by my friend, and ShopLocket investor, Heather Payne that does hands on, project based learning on different web technologies. I’ve mostly been using it to work on ShopLocket related projects, which has been very helpful.
Q: How many users are currently on this platform, and how do you plan to keep the numbers growing?
Katherine: We currently have over 10,000 sellers using ShopLocket. The amazing thing is that so far it’s mostly been from word of mouth and and press coverage. We’ve been fortunate to been covered in things like TechCrunch, Wired, The Next Web among others. Going forward we plan on continuing to make an amazing product that our sellers can’t wait to tell everyone about.
Q: Please share a few tips and advice for first time tech entrepreneurs on bringing new ideas to life?
Katherine: I think the most important thing that any first time entrepreneur needs to do is just something. You need to start something, you need to try. People get so hung up on running it by everyone to see if it’s a good idea and thinking through all the possible scenarios that they never end up doing anything. It’s great to get feedback from very smart people that you respect, but the best people to get feedback from are customers and you can’t do that without a product.
Q: What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew before launching Shop Locket?
Katherine: You can’t just be a little bit better than your competition; you have to be leaps and bounds better than them. To really build a huge company, like we’re trying to do, you have to fundamentally change how people do something. That’s what we think we’re doing at ShopLocket.
Q: What was the biggest problem you encountered with Shop Locket, and how did you overcome it?
Katherine: I think that the biggest challenge that any entrepreneur faces is answering the question: “Are we building something that people want?” So many great businesses start from a personal need, but you have to find out if you’re the only one with that problem. We overcame it by really listening to your customers. This isn’t something that you can be reactive about, you can’t just only be taking in-bound feedback, you have to teach out to people and really dig in to find out what their challenges are and how you can solve them. Doing that, we’ve received amazing feedback that lets you know that what your building has a purpose. You really get a lot of motivation from that.
Q: What is one thing that you do on a daily basis to grow as an entrepreneur?
Katherine: I always try to learn about different things. Creativity begets creativity. You always need to be learning new things, even outside of the business world. It sounds strange that learning about a new topic that has nothing to do with business can actually help you in the business world, but it can. There’s so many great ways to learn about new things, from Khan Academy to TED Talks, there’s such a wealth of information on the internet that you can’t help but learn.
Q: How is running a tech company different than what you thought it would be?
Katherine: It’s always tougher than you imagine it’s going to be. Projects always take twice as long and cost twice as much as you plan for. That being said, it’s very satisfying. You work hard as an entrepreneur—you have to—but to see someone using your product or raving about your product, it gives you such an amazing sense of drive and pride in what you’re doing. That’s even more satisfying than I thought it would be.
Q: What was the best entrepreneurial advice you have ever been given and by whom?
Katherine: The best piece of entrepreneurial advice I ever received was from my mother. She told me that you need to take control of your own destiny. It might sound cliché, but it really impacted me. I knew that I didn’t want to put my fate in someone else’s hands; I wanted to work for myself and build something from the ground up. I wanted to make an impact.
Q: What 3 advice would you offer prospective founders about knowing when they have an idea worth making a leap for?
1) Its going to take twice as long and cost twice as much money.
2) You can never be fully prepared, you just have to go for it.
3) Have a great team. You can do it all by yourself, so you need to surround yourself with amazing people.
Q: What is your definition of success?
Katherine: I think success really varies from person to person. For me, success isn’t an end point, success is being in control of your own destiny. As an entrepreneur you still have people that you’re responsible to—investors, customers, your employees—but ultimately you have control over the direction that you want to head in. That’s an amazing thing.
Q: What is your favorite success quote?
“Real artists ship” — Steve Jobs