What’s in a Pitchfest Entrepreneur? Meet Mina Yoo
— HEROCLIP —
Behind every great idea is an inspired leader and a story—one that speaks of unique experiences, backgrounds, and paths. As Pitchfest 2018 nears, we’re diving in with our finalists to learn what drives them and what has shaped each of their journeys. This week, we spoke with Mina Yoo, Founder and CEO of HEROCLIP, to hear about her vision of creating an “extra hand” for people juggling the responsibilities of everyday life—so they can do more of what they love.
What was the inspiration for starting your company, and how has it evolved?
I came up with the idea for HEROCLIP during a whirlwind of life changes: I had my first child, was remodeling a house, and was diving back into physical health and wellness by training to summit Mt. Rainier. Between traveling, being a mom, exercising, and everything else that comes with living life, I realized I was always lugging stuff around and that two hands were simply not enough. So, I decided to create an “extra hand,” in the simplest possible form: a HEROCLIP! Over the past four years HEROCLIP has evolved from an idea, to three wildly successful crowdfunded campaigns (with $400k total in pledges), and now to a rapidly growing company working with investors and major retail players.
What is the mission and vision of your company? What does the future trajectory look like?
We believe the people who need creative solutions to life’s problems are living life to the fullest—juggling families, work, home, travel, and outdoor recreation. HEROCLIP was invented to provide a multi-purpose solution for everyday problems, and our mission is to unburden and free people from their “stuff,” so they can do more of what they love.
HEROCLIP’s future revolves around growing the brand and positively impacting lives. We’re actively scaling into new verticals through both wholesale and DTC, while also staying true to our roots by launching new products to consumers through crowdfunding campaigns.
Why did you apply for Pitchfest, and what are you hoping to get out of your experience?
Mentorship and guidance are two of the cornerstones of HEROCLIP’s success, so of course, I jumped at the opportunity to work with some of the industries’ best. Pitchfest offers us the opportunity to work with these inspiring leaders in the outdoor consumer industry that are not only willing and eager to impart knowledge and advice, but are hand-matched to each Pitchfest finalist so that we have the most customized and helpful experience.
Through Pitchfest, I’m hoping to gain or help grow a network of founders that are dedicated to getting people outside and active. Growing our brands in the outdoor consumer market can be a challenge for anyone, so banding together and learning from each other will lift us all forward. I am also very excited to meet potential collaboration and distribution partners through this experience.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned, thus far, in founding your company?
Trust your gut, hire the right people, and experiment for sales growth. If your instinct is ever a bit confused, make sure you have people who will tell you. These same people were hired because they are experts—trust them to help grow your brand and sales. Things go wrong all of the time, but things also go really right. We try to embrace that while not forgetting to celebrate those small wins.
What did you not see coming, and how did you respond?
The amount of support, encouragement, and help we have received from industry leaders has been incredible and totally beyond expectation. I have been around the block several times (professionally speaking), and I have never been in an industry where people offer their time so generously, and without expectation, to help a near-stranger succeed. I think it is a real testament to the quality of people the outdoor industry attracts. I am so thrilled to be part of this community!
What’s your superpower? I don’t take “no” for an answer. The corollary is that I don’t take “no” personally. Instead, I study the reasons behind the “no” so that I can turn it into a “yes” as circumstances change.
Outdoor adventure of choice for daily release? Walking meetings.
What book would you recommend? I just finished reading Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. It’s about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and is a horrifying reminder of how not to run a business and how even top minds can get swindled.
Your number one outdoor hack? Heroclip! No but seriously, I make sure everyone I know has one.
One word that you think of when we say outdoors? Expand.
Shortly after I had my first baby, I decided to summit Mt. Rainier as a health and fitness goal. Carrying my baby’s stuff and carrying my weighted backpack for training on a daily basis led to a realization: Two hands are simply not enough for all the gear that comes with living a full, adventurous life. I was a professor of business at the time at the University of Washington Business School and had no background in manufacturing or design, but after fruitless searching for an all-purpose, crossover hanging tool that could go from activity to activity, I decided to create an “extra hand” in the simplest possible form. Heroclip, now with two utility patents, is the result.