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Founders Everywhere: Michelle Huie
Michelle Huie is the founder & CEO of ShopDot, a platform helping retailers never lose a sale by providing them with direct access to inventory and drop-shipping capabilities of their favorite brands.
Welcome to Founders Everywhere, where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at Everywhere Ventures, a global pre-seed fund supported by a community of 500 founders and operators.
Where do most Americans shop? It might surprise you that more than 80% of retail sales in the United States are still from brick-and-mortar stores, NOT ecommerce. What happens, however, when the item a customer wants isn’t in stock (size, color, style)? Oftentimes, the customer leaves without the product, the retailer doesn’t complete the purchase, and the brand doesn’t sell to the customer. Lose-lose-lose. ShopDot is intervening to help brand suppliers and brick-and-mortar retailers partner together to better serve the end customer. Retailers and their staff can easily access available inventory and drop-shipping capabilities from their favorite brands, making it a win-win-win.
Founder and CEO, Michelle Huie has decades of experience in the retail industry and this is her second company. She comes from a family of small business owners and she feels very passionately about helping brick-and-mortar retail stores succeed. As for the name, it symbolizes the ability for any independent retailer to offer a virtual stockroom to their customers. Shop.YourBrandHere!
Why did you create ShopDot?
My first company, Vim&Vigr, is a brand that makes stylish compression socks. I sell via ecommerce, but I also sell to many independent brick-and-mortar stores. As a brand, we rely so much on our retailers for customer acquisition, as they’re the ones engaging with the customers. Supply chain has always been an issue and over the past several years I really noticed the challenges I faced as a brand and my ability to really serve my independent retailers and help them get the right product to their end customers. I knew this could be fixed with the right tech platform, so I created ShopDot.
Why is ShopDot going to win?
ShopDot is enhancing the in-store experience between the customer, the brands, and the retailers, which is crucial to making brick-and-mortar stores more competitive. I find it interesting that over the past few years most of the investment dollars have been directed towards ecommerce and online retail, when that only makes up 15% of retail sales. Brick-and-mortar stores have been a neglected area for investment and technological advancement, but that’s changing and ShopDot is the perfect example.
Tell us about a recent milestone ShopDot crushed.
In April we launched our platform to our beta testers. We’re getting brands and retailers onboarded as we speak and we have close to 1000 brands on our waitlist right now. It’s a two sided platform, with brands listing their products in the backend of shops, and retailers going on to access inventory directly. ShopDot is a many to many platform with a great opportunity to create a network effect here.
How has your background shaped you as a founder?
My parents immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong in the late 1960s and they both started small businesses in New York City. I grew up with the hustle and grind mentality, but also the passion and love that comes with it. My first company was bootstrapped so I inherently learned how to make every dollar count and build in a lean way, which is especially important in today’s fundraising environment.
Any advice for other founders?
One thing I learned really early on in my first company is that the highs are really high, and the lows are really lonely, especially as a solo founder. Make sure you have a really strong community because it’s 100% a mental game of having enough stamina, energy, and passion to move towards the next milestone. Also don’t take things too personally, which is easy to do, particularly at the early stages when investors are really investing in you and your idea. It’s about realizing things that are triggering and rationalizing them or creating balance around them.
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