Actress Turned Start-up Influencer Shares Her Secrets to Success
Michelle Bacharach is CEO and Co-Founder of FINDMINE, an award winning automation technology allowing large retailers to ‘complete the look’. An accomplished technical product and strategy expert, Michelle is experienced in growing startups. She’s launched apps and websites to millions of people, structured various joint ventures, and concepted new products from the ground up. She has an MBA from NYU Stern and a BA from UC Berkeley, where she wrote her honors thesis on managing innovation in multinational organizations. Michelle is a go-getter, an inspiration, ever curious, and always wears a smile. Today, she shares her experience and advice with FemmBoss.
Your career has spanned media to strategy to fashion-tech. Can you tell us how you got on this path and some tidbits of learnings along the way? I majored in “innovation” in college (I went to UC Berkeley where they let you make up your own major!) and worked at a startup out of school so I didn’t have to commit to what I wanted to do in my career. I got my MBA so I could keep my options open after grad school and get a general business degree. These moves helped me learn to see the big picture. When you see that you can sort of be useful in any role and in any industry, the only risk is that you become a “strategy person” who doesn’t actually do anything. So I switched off between big picture strategy stuff and deep, painful execution mode.
Let’s get into the deep, painful execution mode. Can you give us some behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a founder in this industry? Even when things are going really well, it still feels like you’re dying. That’s because the better you do, the more there is to lose, the more there is to do, the faster you have to move, and the tougher the decisions you have to make. When we had nothing and were just starting out, I thought that was hard, but now I’m realizing that it will ALWAYS be hard no matter the stage, so just get used to it and stop expecting things to be easy. If you want easy, work for someone else! Level setting my expectation so the new normal is chaotic, stressful, and incredibly busy has helped my sanity, but I still have a lot of work to do to be more chill.
So switching gears, you’re also an amazing public speaker. Did you have to grow into that or has it come naturally for you? I was a professional actress for 3 years, so that helped! When acting however, I could hide behind a character; it wasn’t my identity or my idea on the line. Then when I first started pitching FINDMINE, I was SO nervous. I had a lot of work to do to overcome that fear. My favorite tips for public speaking are: practice after running up and down the stairs - being out of breath simulates that feeling when you’re nervous, so you’ll practice with the feeling you’ll have while doing it for real, improve your memory with google-able techniques so that you don’t have to remember word for word but always hit the main points, learn how to properly use a mic, and practice your face off. 10,000 hours is a real thing!
Finally, what does FemmBoss mean to you? To me, a boss is a gender neutral term to describe someone in a position of power and with great expertise who leads a group to achieve more than they could do alone. A FemmBoss then is someone (and it could be a man!) who harnesses the power of their femininity to be a better, bigger, badder boss: they use maximum emotional intelligence and self awareness, seek to collaborate not dominate, see the big picture, and look out for the needs of the community rather than just the self.
Michelle, you’re an inspiration! Please share comments and questions below or on Instagram.