Entrepreneur Profile: Kate Harrison, The Green Bride Guide
We hear it every day in the news – small business drives the growth and job creation in our economy.
Independent’s Entrepreneur Profiles celebrates the people out there changing the world every day. We ask each entrepreneur eight questions to give us a little insight into their vision of the future, and their take on building a company.
This month, we feature Kate Harrison, founder and CEO of The Green Bride Guide. The company helps to connect couples with eco-friendly products and services.
Eight Questions for Kate
1. What does your company do?
The Green Bride Guide is the comprehensive, credible resource for eco-friendly wedding ideas, products and services. We offer couples a one-stop-shop for planning including: green wedding content (real green weddings, expert advice, decor blogs, etc.), a directory of local eco-friendly vendors (e.g. organic caterers), and a green wedding gift shop and bridal registry with free carbon neutral shipping.
2. When did you start your company? Why?
I met my husband Barry at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and when we got engaged in 2006, we had a hard time finding eco-friendly options and vendors for our wedding. Based on our experience, I wrote The Green Bride Guide: How to Plan an Earth-friendly Wedding on Any Budget (Sourcebooks 2008) -the book I wanted to buy for planning our wedding but couldn’t find.
It is a comprehensive green wedding resource organized by timeline and price. When the book came out, I started a blog to keep it up to date as new vendors and options came online. Before I knew it, the blog had taken on a life of it’s own and I decided that a more comprehensive website was needed to keep up with the quickly evolving and expanding green wedding market. I also wanted to create a space for couples to share pictures, stories and lessons with each other. I launched www.greenbrideguide.com in Spring 2009 and it quickly became the leading green wedding website online.
3. What are your funding sources?
Most of our funding has come from Yale and the greater CT community – and I am extremely grateful to both. To start, I won two business plan competitions – the Yale Sabin Environmental Venture Prize and the CT Business Plan Competition. These two competitions allowed me to hire my first employee and to start building the current website. I then raised a friends, family and angel round (with support and mentoring through the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute where I was a summer fellow in 2009). A year later, we are doing a second seed round with Connecticut Innovations, Advantage Capital Connecticut I, LP, Launch Capital and a group of CT angels.
4. What have the top 3 challenges been in your start-up process?
1. Finding funding. I went out to raise money at the height of the economic downturn and it has been extremely challenging. I have been lucky to find financiers who really believe in the company and what we have to offer, but it has been a long an arduous road.
2. Finding tech help. In fact, we are currently looking to hire another full time developer (Drupal/PHP) – if anyone reading this is interested…
3. Creating systems that work without experience – especially around order processing and accounting. We have done a lot on a small budget with outside firms but it would be great to have someone on the team with this expertise.
5. Define ‘entrepreneur’.
An optimist with enough passion to push an elephant on roller skates up a hill.
6. Read any good books lately?
My two latest reads were The Effect Executive and the Happiest Baby on The Block – both great. I am clearly only concerned with two things in life right now - being a better CEO and getting enough sleep with a newborn (expected Feb. 9th) to keep working full time.
7. What is your advice for an entrepreneur starting out?
Being an entrepreneur means foraging new territory. Just remember that there is no one right way to do something. There are many paths to success, so let your vision be your compass.
8. What is your favorite entrepreneurship quote?
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~Thomas Edison
If you are an entrepreneur in the Northeast and are interested in being profiled, we invite you to contact us.