Sarah Kunst, creator of the app Proday, which provides workout routines from fitness celebrities and world-renowned athletes, has been making it big in business. Her app has been funded by the L.A. Dodgers, Arielle Zukerberg, and features routines from athletes such as Delanie Walker from the Tennessee Titans. She is on the board for Venture for America, a venture capitalist herself, and a successful entrepreneur.
Sarah offers us some helpful tips for those trying to navigate the business world and create a successful startup.
How did you get started in your career? What were the pivotal moments that helped you realize that you were on the right path?
I got started in college working for Apple in a marketing role and found a passion for tech and strong brands, which took me to Chanel out of college. Then I got into the Startup world. There was never a clear path, but I always worked hard, read about industries I was interested in, and helped people.
“If you’re smart, hard working, well read, and helpful, being successful becomes much easier because people like you, need you, and want to help you in return.”
What are ways to stand out when raising money for your startup business?
Be prepared. Read books on how to raise venture capital money. Listen to podcasts and read articles. Find old pitch decks from other startups. Comb the websites of VC funds who offer advice on how to pitch them.
Once you have an idea, digital presence, and proof that it works, you can try raising money from friends, family, or accelerators. No one is too far along for an accelerator. It’s often the easiest $100K you’ll get in your life.
How do you overcome the continuous challenges in your career while staying passionate about your app, Proday?
Life is a challenge. Being a black woman might mean more or different challenges, but everyone has internal and external roadblocks to overcome. Controlling your mind and body helps a lot.
Meditate, workout - even just getting your 10k steps in everyday - drink lots of water, sleep a lot, give hugs to your people, dance to happy music, and eat healthy. Those things can’t be overlooked. You have tons of time each day to struggle with your business and other problems, so make sure you spend a few minutes chasing joy too.
How do we encourage speaking out about issues of discrimination and harassment?
As the late, great Whitney Houston would advise, keep impeccable receipts. You will be discriminated against or harassed - we have research that shows it’s a virtual inevitability for women and people of color in the workplace. So keep a record when it happens. Take detailed notes, screenshots, or confirm it in writing. Read up on EEOC laws. This stuff is wrong, often illegal, and women need to hear that they are allowed to report these people.
I’ve been overwhelmed by support from men and women since I spoke up in a New York Times article about being sexually harassed. Often men don’t hear about sexual harassment so they don’t know how common it is. When you tell them, they will listen and be better allies.
What advice do you have for women that have no prior knowledge about managing money to take charge of their finances?
Sign up for mint.com to get your credit score. See what you’re spending on monthly and decide to save a little. Set up a 401k or IRA and contribute just $20 from each paycheck to it.
If $20 sounds like a lot, try just $5 a week. Tally up what you spend money on that isn’t rent, bills, or transportation and see what you’re spending on that you’re not really enjoying.
I’m a big at home coffee person. I know I can’t fund my retirement on the $5 a day I save, but it covers gas money and my phone bill and that’s not trivial.
The most important first step is understanding what you make, owe, and spend, then trying to save or pay down debt a little more.
Investing is easy and apps like Acorns and Robinhood are simple to use. Download the Yahoo! Stocks app and start following stocks that you like and understand - Apple, Amazon, Stitchfix etc. If you can afford it, put some money into buying those stocks once you feel you can explain to a friend why they’re good buys that you’ll want to hold for a while.
Women make great investors, the data proves this. We just need more of us to invest!
Follow Sarah at @sarahkunst