GET IT GIRL: NAAMA AND SHADIAH OF HONEYBOOK

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Today we’re thrilled to be chatting with Naama Alon, Cofounder and Head of Product, and Shadiah Sigala, Cofounder and Head of Customer Experience, at Honeybook. Honeybook is a modern event planning resource for vendors and their clients. They assist event planners by connecting them with vendors and others in the field, allowing the event planning process to become much simpler, as they build a strong network of quality, vibrant vendors. We chatted with them about the how Honeybook got its start, how these creative female entrepreneurs run their business, and what their day-to-day process looks like.

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What was your “aha!” moment when you realized that you wanted to go full throttle with your passion?

What was your “aha!” moment when you realized that you wanted to go full throttle with your passion?

 Shadiah:

Naama and I were sort of born rebels :). We have both gone against the grain since we can remember, so entrepreneurship was never a question, it was just a matter of what and when.

My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up. We immigrated to the US when I was seven, and our schools were always severely lacking. But I made it my life’s mission to become a successful “career woman.” I eventually went on to attend Harvard for a Master’s in Public Leadership. I took a fabulous corporate job that soon lost its luster, so to vent creative steam, I found myself hosting my own whacky public access television show in Boston and acting in community theatre. After leaving my job and organizing my own bi-coastal wedding, I joined forces with Naama to build HoneyBook.

As for Naama, this woman is fearless. A favorite story entails how she was the very first girl to be admitted to the premier Israeli youth group in its sixty years of existence (think of the ultimate, most commando unit of the Boy Scouts, if such thing existed). Naama was determined to be the best, so she rolled up her sleeves, proved herself, and cracked the proverbial glass ceiling. And she was only thirteen! A born creative, Naama found the sweet spot between passion and talent in visual arts, studied at the top design university in Israel, Shenkar, and worked at a creative agency before leaving to become the lead designer and product mastermind at HoneyBook.

The creation of HoneyBook itself was the team effort of four cofounders — including Oz Alon (CEO, and Naama’s husband) and Dror Shimoni (our technical cofounder). Oz and Naama had planned their own 400-guest wedding, and I had organized my West Coast wedding from the East Coast. The process was suboptimal, to say the least. Fearless (or crazy) people that we are, we dove headfirst into the ambitious challenge of reforming the events industry for both vendors and clients.

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What’s your philosophy on running a successful business?

 

We’re kind of obsessed with our customers.

 

From day one we set out to delight our customers at every support touchpoint. We love the story about the man who walked into a Nordstrom to return a pair of 20-year old tires, only to find the chain had never sold automotive parts — and yet he still received a refund. Urban myth or truth? Who cares. The point is that people are loyal and fiercely vocal about brands that place people at the center and care deeply about their customers.

 

Because of this philosophy, we’ve developed an incredibly loyal community of customers and enthusiasts in a short time. Our supporters feel like they’re part of something really special — like they’re on a journey with us.

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What have been some of HoneyBook’s biggest benchmarks or accomplishments?

The ultimate predictor of success for a company is its people. Venture capitalist and startup king, Ben Horowitz, says in his book that no matter how great (or bad) the product, market or economy, you’re dead without a rock solid, committed team of people. At HoneyBook, we have the dream team. We’ve handpicked the very best, most perfect rockstars for us. What’s more, we feel like a family.

Also, we’re thrilled with how enthusiastically we’ve been received by event professionals all over the country, and how willing our supporters are to talk with others about their positive experiences. We haven’t done any paid advertising, yet we have a long waitlist. Our community has been the most powerful engine. We know it sounds cheesy, but our secret weapon is to treat our customers like gold, and the rest will come.

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What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is at once the most liberating and terrifying experience. There’s an undeniable pride in being able to create a compelling vision and then bringing amazingly talented people together to achieve it. The drawback is that there is intense pressure. As a burgeoning tech startup with a very ambitious agenda, we have incredible pressure to deliver huge results every day — to customers, investors and (probably most of all) to ourselves.

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What can we expect from HoneyBook in the near future? Any new goals or plans?

Ohmagosh, yes! HoneyBook’s going through a quick expansionary period, and will likely continue at this pace for the foreseeable future. Hiring is a huge priority right now. We have a pretty long waitlist of people wanting to use the product, so we’re looking forward to beefing up our team in order to sustain new customers at the same level of service people have come to love and expect.

 

The growth also means that we are literally, physically bursting at the seams, so we’ll be moving into a larger office in the heart of startup-San Francisco by summer time!

 

Oh, and we almost forgot: we’re now accepting applications from cuddly, furry creatures to become the new HoneyBook dog honeybook-team-women

So what does a day in the life of Naama and Shadiah consist of?

Naama:

Ha! That’s actually a complicated question considering we have two offices in different time zones: one in San Francisco, and one in Tel Aviv, Israel. That means that while one office works, the other sleeps. Except that my job is to manage across the Product, Design and Development teams in both offices — so I often end up working around the clock! (I know, I know, it’s not sustainable…). We’re growing at a very rapid pace, so I find myself interviewing at least a few people per week. Our goal as a company is to provide the best technology all rolled into beautiful products, so hiring the very best developers and designers is tantamount to our success. So far, we’ve been fortunate to hire some of the best talent in Tel Aviv (one of the leading technology innovation markets in the world), and we’re now looking to build out our Design team in San Francisco (ahem…calling all web designers :).

 

My favorite time of the day is when I get to spend time wireframing and thinking through some of the more challenging aspects of the product. It feeds my inner creator.

 

Shadiah:

Because we have two offices, we start every single morning with a company-wide touchbase on video chat. We have an extremely tight knit team and familial culture, so we like to stay connected and on target. But beyond that, every day looks entirely different for me. My role is to lead and manage the Customer Experience — that’s anything having to do with customers! From sales and marketing to support and community building. I spend time with my team to goal-set for the day or week, and we’ll discuss any customer issues or product hot topics. Then I might hop around town meeting with customers and potential partners. But I’ll tell you what I never, ever miss: my breakfast first thing in the morning. (Oh, and a little R&R time with my awesome husband in the evening.)

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 Photography by Talia Cruz of Talia Studio

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