Startup founders have infamously unpredictable daily schedules as they work to establish and grow their businesses. What does such an entrepreneur’s weekly, daily, or even hourly routine look like when sometimes there aren’t enough hours in a day? In the Startup Diaries, founders walk us through a week in their lives and show what it really takes to get a fledgling business off the ground.
December 2017 was a period of change for Rebecca Lima. First, she decided to shave her head. “For the longest time my hair was my security blanket,” she says. “Shaving it was kind of a release for me—from what other people thought of me, from what I thought about myself, and what made me feel beautiful.”
Then she decided to jettison the startup she’d been working on for two years. It was an airport navigation app called Ment, and she wasn’t happy with her work. “I was doing it to fulfill some selfish need of mine to be bigger than I was,” she says. “It was an ego trip, basically, and I realized that because I was doing it for myself and not to help other people, I had to put an end to it.” In January 2018, she sold her company assets, and in February, she incorporated The Lieu.
Her new idea was to provide women with a space (and tools) to freshen up so they didn’t have to schlep their beauty supplies around every day. “I shaved my head because I didn’t need any more distraction—I didn’t want to carry this straightener around anymore,” says Lima, a WeWork Labs member at WeWork 142 W 57th St in New York City. “But shaving your head, that’s not a solution that’s scalable.” She wanted to pay forward her newfound freedom by creating what she calls a “24 hour fitness for beauty”—a pit stop for fixing your hair, applying lotion, changing clothes, or putting on spray deodorant.
She started by hosting pop-ups at WeWork locations around the city, bringing lighted mirrors and curated beauty kits to conference rooms. “I got a lot of validation that women wanted this,” particularly in their workspaces, Lima says. “[The service] integrates so beautifully into the life of a corporate woman.” So she shifted her focus from launching a storefront to creating corporate subscription kits with hair, body, and feminine-care products for businesses.
Though opening storefront locations is still a long-term goal, Lima says the subscription model allows her to build a following. Right now, she’s working with a team of contractors to build smart beauty cabinets, which are set to that launch in July. “Think of them as big retail display cases curated with grooming and personal care products,” she says. The smart part: The cases will have QR codes and the products will have RFID tags. “This provides brands with a new distribution channel to connect with their consumers.”
Below, Lima shares a breakdown of a recent workweek.
8 a.m. Wake up in Florida. I was here for my best friend’s baby shower over the weekend, and I fly back to New York [City] this afternoon. I enjoy the hotel pool for a few hours.
2 p.m. Take a branding call with my contract designer while I’m at the airport. We’re rethinking the logo, the feeling of it. Pink’s been done 50,000 times. We want a level of sophistication and playfulness.
4 p.m. Board flight.
6:30 p.m. Layover in Atlanta. I use the time to answer emails. Any free time is a time to answer email.
7:40 p.m. Off to N.Y.C. I try to detach from the world on planes. Since it’s a short flight, I listen to music.
10 p.m. Land at LaGuardia and hop in an Uber home. Order Seamless (a burger from my favorite spot), unpack, and shower.
1 a.m. Bed. I have so many meetings tomorrow, but I’ll manage.
7:30 a.m. Wake up. I used to start my morning—and end my day—on social media, but I’ve been detoxing from Instagram and Facebook for about a month and a half. At first, it was super hard: I was too caught up in everyone’s lives, comparing my situation to what I saw depicted on IG, and it was really unhealthy. Forty-five minutes go by and you’re like, I just did nothing. All I’ve done is watch other people’s lives.
Now I don’t even open those apps. I wake up, spend some time meditating and praying, get out of bed, shower, and start my six-step skincare routine: cleanser, toner, elixir spray, hyaluronic acid, serums, and moisturizer. (It used to be 10, but I cut back on face masks and certain serums.)
9:30 a.m. Leave my apartment in Astoria, Queens. Today I have three separate investor meetings—we’re in our pre-seed round—so I spend the morning prepping for my first meeting at noon.
12 p.m. The first investor wasn’t the right fit for my company. The more meetings that I’ve taken, the more I can instantly tell if a person’s a good fit or not. Most of the time I’m talking to a white, older male—that’s just the reality of the situation. It’s another human, and they have predisposed thoughts and beliefs. And it’s not my job to persuade someone to do this if they’ve already been convinced otherwise.
3 p.m. The next meeting went better. The conversation was more fluid and the investor understood the true vision and importance of the company. My business partner, Domonique Sims, came with me, too, and we feed off each other really well. She joined the company in November 2018 because I needed help with operations. We’re the only full-time employees, but we have eight contractors, including an industrial designer and a two-person manufacturing team.
4:45 p.m. Last meeting of the day. At this point, I’ve traversed the entire city. I’m tired, but this is what it takes. Fundraising is a two-way street—founders tend to forget that. You always feel like the investor has the upper hand. But you have to switch your mentality to think, This is the partner that’s going to be with me for the long haul of my company.
7 p.m. Dinner with a founder friend.
12 a.m. Go to bed exhausted after watching videos on YouTube. I don’t own a television—I haven’t had a TV in, like, three years —and I don’t have any streaming subscriptions. I do watch YouTube—I love educational videos and things that will make me learn more about life. I’ve been really into growth hacking my life.
6 a.m. Wake up earlier than usual for an 8 a.m. event.
8 a.m. Arrive at the Female Founders Day event hosted by the venture- capital firm Female Founders Fund for International Women’s Day. It is so cool to see such a diverse group of women connected by entrepreneurship networking under one roof.
11 a.m. Attend a panel with Glamsquad CEO Amy Schecter about building your brand for scale.
1:45 p.m. Attend panel featuring Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss, Birchbox co-founder Katia Beauchamp, and Female Founders Fund partner Sutian Dong. I asked the question, “When fundraising, how do you initiate the close faster?” They suggested putting a few investors on the same timeline to incite a sense of urgency.
3 p.m. Leave the event because reality has hit: I’m flying to California on Friday—more investor meetings!—and I have no clean clothes. I go home to do laundry. I take work calls while folding. The glamorous life of a founder.
6:30 p.m. Dinner with a friend—she just got a new job at Spotify, and we’re celebrating.
7:30 a.m. Morning routine.
10 a.m. Meet with a lawyer at The Wing. She’s super cool—a mutual friend connected us—and really well-connected within the angel phase of fundraising. I already have a lawyer, so I was basically there to hear about what services she provides.
11 a.m. Run into a friend at The Wing and chat for an hour.
1:45 p.m. Call with another potential investor.
2:30 p.m. Salad from Sweetgreen, one of my favorite places.
3:30 p.m. Meet with a top-notch fund. My co-founder is supposed to join but she came down with a cold and can’t make it. The meeting goes well.
4:30 p.m. Crank out emails.
8 p.m. Attend an “interesting persons dinner” hosted by a friend. There are eight of us. We introduce ourselves and talk about how we stay grounded—that’s the topic of the dinner. I talk about my social media cleanse and they’re like, what? One of the guys connects me to two of his angel investor friends, and I have meetings with them on the Friday after I return to California.
8 a.m. Wake up, pack, and hang out at home for a few hours before I head to Newark Aairport.
10 a.m. Answer emails and follow up with previous investors. I feel like these past few weeks got the best of me as I tried to close this round of funding. Going to California is a lot of energy—and money—and I don’t know what’s going to happen.
That’s the frustrating thing about being a founder. There’s a lot of risk, and it’s disheartening when you have a meeting and it doesn’t go as expected. Or I’ll walk out of a really good meeting and then get a bad email. Every single day it’s a battle to see how resilient you are.
2 p.m. Board my direct flight, pop in my headphones, and crank the tunes. Not even five minutes in, I’m passed out. I wake up and watch A Star Is Born and Green Book.
5 p.m. (PST) Land in L.A. and pick up my rental car. I’m staying with my friend in Long Beach.
6:30 p.m. Dinner and ice cream. We catch up and enjoy a lot of laughs.
11 p.m. Back at my friend’s house. I shower and go to bed. The time difference—and this week full of meetings—has finally caught up to me.