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Woman-Owned Spotlight with Joylet Co-Founder and COO, Natalie Poston

This week's women-owned business spotlight is the incredible Natalie Poston. Natalie is the Co-Founder and COO of JoyLet, a premium baby and toddler gear rental company that envisions a world where every piece of gear is loved by multiple families. Prior to JoyLet, Natalie was a venture capital associate at StepStone group, investing in early and growth-stage startups as well as venture funds.

Natalie holds an MBA with a certificate in sustainable business from Georgetown McDonough School of Business and is passionate about increasing the representation of women in the VC and startup ecosystem.

JoyLet Co-Founders Natalie MBA

Thanks for sitting down with Confidence Daily! Tell us about what you do.

I am the Co-Founder of JoyLet baby and toddler gear rentals. While no two days are ever the same as an early-stage founder, I tend to focus my time on our marketing efforts like social media, PR, influencer partnerships, community building, events, digital marketing, and brand collaborations. I also work on a variety of corporate functions like managing our investor outreach and communications, handling some aspects of HR, and supporting Alli with operations when needed.

How do you cultivate confidence?

Confidence has always been a moving target for me. It’s something I have spent years working on and continue to work on even now. The most effective way of building confidence for me has been to put myself in situations and roles outside of my comfort zone. While it can be terrifying in the moment, working through these challenges has built confidence in my ability to handle whatever comes my way. When I need to muster confidence, I think back to my previous successes and the uncertainties I have overcome in the past. I also try to trust the timing of my life. The older I get the more firmly believe that we are always right where we are supposed to be and always have the tools needed to move forward within ourselves.

What does being a woman-owned business mean to you?

I am very proud that JoyLet is a woman-owned business, especially because as a baby gear rental service most of our customers are moms. This allows us to relate to our customers in a personal way and passionately solve their problems. In the last few years before starting JoyLet I came from a very male-dominated environment in business school and venture capital, so having the ability to lead our business alongside my female co-founder is something I deeply value. I feel strongly that women need to be better represented in the startup and venture capital ecosystem, and hope we can encourage more women to take the leap into founding their own companies.

What was your business origin story?

My co-founder, Alli, and I built the initial business plan for JoyLet in an MBA class called “Lean Startup” while at Georgetown McDonough. Everyone had to pitch an idea on the first day of class. Alli pitched a baby gear rental business–an idea she’d wanted to explore at business school. Alli had been deeply passionate about reducing her waste after moving to a small rural town without a curbside recycling program and no nearby donation centers. Shortly after she started working at a construction rental company called United Rentals and started to explore how to live a sustainable lifestyle with children. It turns out that early parenthood is one of the most hyper-consumptive periods of our lives. She thought there had to be a better way to access baby gear that’s only used for a few months, and started questioning - why is there no United Rentals model for baby gear?

I was just beginning my step-parenting journey at that time so I had firsthand experience with the problem. I loved the idea, joined her, and JoyLet was born. JoyLet is a monthly subscription platform for baby and toddler gear and toy rentals, which helps parents gain flexibility, while saving time, money, space, waste, and stress.

In the Lean Startup course, we used the Lean Canvas framework to build the business plan, had the opportunity to interview and survey over 100 parents and pitch our idea to local investors. We got positive feedback, but it took a few months for us to decide to take the idea out of the classroom and into the real world.

Bark Tank Georgetown Pitch Competition JoyLet

Okay, coming up with a great idea and actually taking the steps to become an entrepreneur and launch your company are two very different things. How did you know it was time to start?

As we were both in the MBA program we took advantage of pitch competitions, which are a perfect way to secure non-dilutive funding to get student ventures off the ground. While at McDonough we pitched our business and secured over $40,000 of funding from the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge and the Bark Tank pitch competition. After securing the initial capital from the Entrepreneurship Challenge we incorporated JoyLet, and spent months building our MVP website. After the website was ready, we used organic and paid Instagram content to acquire our very first customers. From there, we tested the viability of the business model - we wanted to make sure that the gear would hold up over multiple rentals. Over the few months, we validated its viability and continued to acquire customers along the way, which allowed us to be in the position to formally launch the business.

Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy feat. What are some of the lessons you learned along the way?

Everything is “solvable.” Big problems can sometimes feel insurmountable at the beginning but approaching problems with a solutions-oriented approach can make all the difference. Start from the principle that solutions will come with a mix of investment of time and/or money.

Strive for progress, not perfection. I have perfectionist tendencies which I have learned can impede action and progress at an early-stage startup. However, in business, your goal should be to experiment, test hypotheses quickly and strive for progress. Don’t let perfectionism stand in your way.

Sometimes entrepreneurship can be a hard and isolating journey. How do you stay confident along the way?

I stay grounded in our purpose and vision for JoyLet by talking with parents and our customers who tell us they need this service. Every time we get a positive review we celebrate because it means we are on the right track by providing an easy and convenient offering for young families.

Having a strong co-founder relationship can help entrepreneurs avoid isolation. My co-founder and I speak openly about our feelings which helps us both feel understood and not alone on this journey.

If you had to list three traits or attributes that have been pivotal for your success, what would they be?

Strong work ethic, care for others, and the desire to change the status quo.

How is your company making a difference?

When a child ages out of their gear, parents are faced with the challenge of storing the gear or disposing of it. Busy parents find storage space limited and find resale to be unpredictable, time-consuming, and inconvenient. Because most gear isn’t eligible for donation due to safety concerns, parents end up tossing perfectly good gear into the trash. That’s why, over a ten-year period, 23.7 million pieces of functional used baby and kids gear will be thrown away, according to OfferUP.

JoyLet offers a white glove delivery experience providing gear package-free and fully assembled. JoyLet professionally maintains, cleans, and sanitizes its gear, extending its useful life, making JoyLet the more sustainable choice. We eliminate packaging waste and reduce Co2 emissions by more than 86% versus buying new.

I know you probably have many, but what’s your proudest moment as a founder?

A very proud moment was the day that myself and my co-founder quit our day jobs. We had been dreaming about that moment for a long time and I was so proud that we made it happen.

What's one myth you'd like to debunk about your line of work?

A common misconception is you need to know everything yourself. I recommend surrounding yourself with peers, mentors, and advisers that are experts in their respective fields. You can always learn from others who are willing to lend their time and expertise.

What advice would you give to burgeoning entrepreneurs?

Just start! Go out and test your idea in the market. I hear from a lot of people who have had great ideas that they’ve never tested. Take the first step, and then the others will come.

What does the future look like for your company?

We have big ambitions for JoyLet. In the future, we’ll be expanding into new markets and growing our team.

What words do you live by?

“I can do hard things” - Glennon Doyle.

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