5 Tips For Running A Self-Funded Startup

5 Tips For Running

A Self-Funded Startup

We launched BOXFOX in 2014 in order to bring gifting into the 21st century with the mission to create stronger relationships through personal and purposeful gifts. Our idea was powered by simple user experiences, driven by premier service, and grounded by a commitment to authenticity. We launched with a clear vision of both the services we wanted to offer—expertly pre-curated gifts and the ability to build your own custom gifts—and the type of principles we wanted to guide our company with—thoughtfulness and an excellent commitment to our customer. All three of us co-founders came to the table having experienced good and bad bosses, as well as good and bad company cultures. There was no way we were going to sit around for 10+ years working on someone else’s dream and seeing if it was going to get better. We had a good idea, we had co-founders, and we had a common belief that it would be a much more fulfilling life working out-of-our-minds hard for ourselves versus for someone else. We also knew we wanted to do it on our own and build a functioning business out of pocket to prove that it was profitable and scalable. In three and a half short years, we’ve grown from our small apartment in Venice, CA to a self-funded, female-led enterprise and have had a few behind-the-scenes honest looks at what it takes to use our philosophy to both run and grow a business.

“We knew exactly what our company was and how it was going to be. There are always shiny opportunities or disappointing setbacks, but that doesn’t take away from the path we set out in 2014.”

BOXFOX Co-Founders: Chelsea, Jenni, and Sabena (Photo courtesy of shopboxfox.com)
1. Conviction / A firmly held belief or opinion

Starting a business is the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever done. Most people can’t handle the lack of validation, but it’s important to be self-motivated day in and day out. I’ll never forget telling a former boss my idea, only to have him quickly say, “Gifts? Well, 90 percent of business fail so why even try.”

But I knew in my heart that this was going to be a successful company. That conviction is what kept me sane through the countless dismissals from acquaintances and colleagues (spoiler alert, most are jealous you decided to jump out of the rat race and start your own), and through every time someone told me, with much condescension, “You know what you should do?”, and in every instance, a client, brand, or influencer has told us “no.” We’re building a family business, expanding our offerings, and evolving as owners, so I wear that conviction and prepare for the long haul.

2. Vision / Knowing where you’re going, even when you haven’t gotten there yet

We knew exactly what our company was and how it was going to be. There are always shiny opportunities or disappointing setbacks, but that doesn’t take away from the path we set out in 2014. We have a solid foundation that helps us strategically evaluate expansion and partnerships because we’re here to do what we do and do it best. A prime example of this comes into play in the real world is celebrity gifting suites. You’d think gift box company plus gifting suite equals a prime opportunity. However, our (maybe) unpopular opinion is that we’re not in this for that. We know we’re here to offer an aesthetically elevated and accessible service to aid in the maintenance of real relationships, both personal and professional. It’s easy to get distracted by big names and seemingly big opportunities, but maintaining a connection to our vision helps us not get distracted by opportunities that won’t benefit our business goals.

Starting a business is the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever done. Most people can’t handle the lack of validation, but it’s important to be self-motivated day in and day out.”

3. Re-vision / *Ross voice* PIVOT, PIVOT!

As much as we’re planners and we know who we are, complacency is not key. While we aren’t fans of getting distracted at every opportunity, we are proponents of evolving in verticals that make sense for us. It’s important to incorporate methodic reviews of what’s working, what isn’t, and how it can be made better. The best example of this is Corporate Gifting. It wasn’t always in our plan, but with the many customers inquiring about gifts for their businesses, we knew we could take the authenticity, personalization, and purposeful gifting to scale. It’s almost like our vision draws the roadmap that guides us, but the revision is necessary to meet consumer needs.

4. Resilience / Elasticity, bouncing back from adversity

Something both beautiful and challenging about having a self-funded startup is that everything is on our shoulders. The good, the bad, the laborit is all our responsibility to move the brand forward every single day. That being said, we’ve adopted the mentality here at BOXFOX that with the right attitude, we’re in control of a lot more than others may think. It is the attitude we approach problems with that make them easier to get through. We face all challenges head-on. Whether it is cleaning up our own mistakes, de-palletizing 70 palettes before it rains, or needing to ship out 1,750 boxes when our tissue supplier is back ordered. As founders, we encourage our team to bring a can-do attitude to the hardest days because then they end up not being so bad.

"We launched with a clear vision of both the services we wanted to offer—expertly pre-curated gifts and the ability to build your own custom gifts—and the type of principles we wanted to guide our company with—thoughtfulness and an excellent commitment to our customer" (Photo courtesy of shopboxfox.com)
5. Resourcefulness / A little goes a long way

When you are purposefully being scrappy, it’s important to be lean and resourceful. We’re able to keep our investments, expenses, and big moves both clear and organized. When it comes to the fun stuff, there’s no waste or unnecessary spending. Not only does it help against physical clutter, it keeps mental clutter light as well. That being said, we are very resourceful, and keep that approach as we grow. We are a bit too big to be relying on favors of friends and family like we did when we first got off the ground, but it is important to still leverage your network and their connections as you grow. We also get creative with airline miles, credit card rewards, and reusing materials, because you’re never too big to be mindful of how you are spending.

Chelsea Moore

Chelsea Moore co-founded Boxfox in 2014, at just 22, after spotting a gap in the lifestyle and service space for elevated and effortless gifting. While studying at UCLA and simultaneously working in marketing at Brandy Melville and Ogilvy & Mather, Chelsea fell in love with the power of branding and witnessed firsthand the importance of humanity in every aspect of the business.

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