Zipster Profile: Hutch’s CEO Shares Design Tips, Productivity Hacks, and Advice for Young Women
From being featured on “Shark Tank” to building a start-up from scratch, one of our favorite Zipsters is Beatrice Fischel-Bock, co-founder and CEO of virtual interior design app Hutch.
She let us pick her brain about starting her first company while still in college, what it’s like to be a female business owner, her tips for staying productive, and how she uses Zipcar to keep moving.
When was the first time you used a Zipcar?
I signed up as a student at George Washington University. We started our business junior year and part of it was going to clients’ homes and decorating their spaces. So, we used Zipvans to transport furniture and materials. I don’t know what we would have done without Zipcar during that time. I was also using it personally because I didn’t have a car.
How did you come up with the concept for your first business, Zoom Interiors?
We were studying architecture. Being a city school, a lot of people moved into apartments their junior and senior year and a lot of people were reaching out to us about design help for their small spaces. There was also a business plan contest, so we pitched a concept: for a low fee, you could buy time with a virtual designer. We came up with mood boards and then actually went to people’s apartments and installed the designs around D.C. and Virginia. It went well for a college business. When it came time to graduate, we didn’t have a business background, but we knew about “Shark Tank,” and so we applied to be on the show.
What was the experience of being on “Shark Tank” like? Would you do it again?
It was intense! But the best part of it was that we met the founder of Tinder through “Shark Tank,” Sean Rad. He was watching the show and saw us on there and reached out. We met and starting chatting. Now, he’s our chairman and my mentor.
What was the most challenging thing about starting your own company?
Figuring out how to get past all the other challenges, and keeping your stamina and your vision can be challenging when you’re in the thick of things. Also, I think building the right team. People are everything. Finding those people is not easy.
Tell me a little bit about your newest company, Hutch.
Hutch is what came after Sean. It became clear that in order to be a profitable business, we needed to make some changes. So we switched the name and focused on this one piece of the business, and built the technology behind that.
Any favorite design tricks you often use for small spaces like city apartments or dorm rooms?
I always say, “when in doubt, light it out.” Keep the colors light and let the light come through. Also, declutter—it’s hard to do, but worth it if you can. It feels good mentally and physically.
What home design trends are you seeing gain popularity?
Mixing patterns and color—playing it less safe. A palm-tree patterned pillow next to another print. Have some fun with your interiors!
You’re busy. What role does Zipcar play in your life now?
I still use Zipcar—my husband lives in New Haven and we have a Zipcar station in the building (we actually picked that building in part because it has Zipcars) and so we’re not getting a second car. Sometimes I still use Zipcar versus my car when I don’t want to deal with parking. I also use it for investment meetings in San Francisco. I prefer to drive myself, rather than taking taxis or Uber.
What advice do you have for other young female entrepreneurs?
My advice would be just go for it. What I kind of feel, and I know this is a blanket statement, but women can be a little less ego-driven than men. Get going. Stop talking about it and just start the process. The only way to do it is to just dive in. You can’t prepare to prepare.
You’ve accomplished a lot—how do you stay so productive?
The way I have my company set up, and how I work, is I believe in quality over quantity, meaning I don’t believe in my employees working 15-hour days. Business has a culture of always working, but you can burn people out, so I take that very seriously for my team and for myself. If I have to work on the weekend for example, I don’t drag it out—I work for a few hours on Saturday morning and focus and just get it done. I find that I’m more productive when I’m taking care of myself, too. I’m also an old-school to-do list person—pen and paper. I like to check off the boxes.
Want to be more productive? Sign up for our Zipcar for Business webinar this Wednesday, October 18th: Get It Done: 5 Ways to Focus Your Attention and Improve Workplace Productivity.