The social media maverick describes her entrepreneurial journey.
4 min read
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Rachel Tipograph is a self described adrenaline junkie and extrovert. Her hobbies include boxing, running and spinning. She also loves to travel and host parties. Somehow, she manages to do all this while also steering the helm at MikMak, an online platform creating native commerce experiences for the social video generation. During her time at Gap Inc., Rachel identified an opportunity for brands to take advantage of the shift in how audiences behave on social, especially as it applies to mobile.
Listen in as Rachel describes her beginnings as an entrepreneur, the lessons she’s learned, and her take on the future of social.
An entrepreneur from the start
“I grew up outside of NYC in Woodcliff Lake, NJ. At a young age, I was seeking financial independence. By the time I turned 13, I became an eBay power user. I received a digital camera from RadioShack as a gift and started photographing items my neighbors were trying to sell via garage sales. With my eBay sales, I took 20% of every transaction I drove.
“Equally important was my first job in physical retail. When I was 18 years old going to NYU, I got a job being a salesperson at the Apple Store in SoHo. I learned an important lesson there: Never ask a prospective customer a ‘yes or no’ question. You should only ask open ended questions to get the prospect to talk, so you can then figure out how to close the sale. I’ve made millions of dollars in my career with that lesson.”
Founding MikMak and the lessons learned
“In 2014 I founded a company called MikMak, where we help big brands like L’Oreal, LEGO and Unilever improve their eCommerce performance at retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Sephora and Ulta. We have software called MikMak Attach, that allows brands to have the most optimal eCommerce product details pages, and creative services called MikMak Studios, that helps brands with content that results in an eCommerce lift. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about entrepreneurship.
“There are two major lessons I think about often: First, you want to ensure your product or service fits within the existing budget line item of your buyer. If you’re coming out of your buyer’s experimental budget, there’s a strong chance they don’t have a permanent home for you after an initial trial. Do the extra work during the sales cycle to get paid out of a budget that will be there next year too.
“And two, if you’re just starting a business, don’t do it alone. Make a list of your top strengths, then make a list of your top weaknesses. Now go find a co-founder whose strengths are your weaknesses. Building a company alone is isolating; you can’t be the best at everything. The next company I build I will absolutely have a co-founder.”
“I got the meeting to pitch Gary and his fund VaynerRSE because of my reputation while leading global digital marketing at Gap. It was the shortest investor meeting I ever had. After my three minute elevator pitch, Gary said he was in. His reasoning was, ‘Why didn’t I think of this?’ As for working together, Gary is a man of his word. And his endurance is inspiring. Whatever help he offers, he follows through on. He has also built an empire behind him, and I collaborate with some of Gary’s amazing team including Phil Toronto, Ryan Harwood, James Orsini and Andrea Sullivan.”
The future of social
“The future of storytelling on social will have shorter feedback loops. Watch creators on Twitch and TikTok — they see how audiences respond to content in real time and optimize their approach in the moment. This dynamic is difficult for big companies to execute on as their marketing departments often justify their jobs by ‘approving creative.’ You can’t operate that way anymore. Dynamic content (storytelling) optimizations will be the way you win.”