Lisa Barnett is the co-founder of Little Spoon, a brand built for the modern parent that is rethinking the sleepy industry of highly processed, unhealthy baby food by delivering high quality, fresh baby food right to your door.
Prior to Little Spoon, Lisa spent 6 years as an investor in and operator at some of the world’s top consumer brands. Her investment focus was on B2C technology startups, namely, e-commerce, marketplace, and brands - leading her to be recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 VC in 2017.
What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?
First and foremost is persistence and hustle. As an entrepreneur, you cannot be afraid to put yourself and your ideas out there and figure out how to give them life. I honestly assume I am going to have to try 1,001 ways before something starts to work. I think people often overemphasize ideation as the typical and essential entrepreneurial activity. Ideas are great, but they are a dime a dozen. Having ideas doesn’t make you a successful entrepreneur. The real differentiator between ‘people with ideas’ and ‘entrepreneurs’ is how hard you can hustle and execute, even after things don’t work.
Second is experimentation: I tell my team - treat everyday like an experiment, and I really mean it. I’ve worked on both the corporate and startup side, and one of the biggest factors that enables an underdog - i.e., a startup - to upend out a massive, well-resourced incumbent is it’s ability to be nimble, to test everything and listen and react to the customer until you get it right. As a startup, you have nothing to lose, no core business to upset, no stakeholders to cross. So you need to lean into your advantages. Why not try and put something out there, see how it does? By nature of being an entrepreneur and running a startup, you are rethinking how things are normally done in an industry. So experimentation should be a natural part of the process and teams should be empowered to try and learn without fear of “making a mistake” or not getting it “right” the first time around.
Last but definitely not least is communication: I’ve found most problems on a team or in a business are a result of lack of or miscommunication. And unsurprisingly, the most effective teams are the ones that can clearly and consistently communicate and have healthy dialogues about key decisions. Two heads are better than one, and no business can function collaboratively and efficiently if people are working in isolation or in a silo. You can’t expect a fast moving company to be successful if there are breakdowns in how the team communicates and a lack of team brainstorming and collaboration.
Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?
I remember feeling like I failed the first time I heard “no” when I was fundraising for Little Spoon. I know it sounds crazy - no one can expect a “yes” every time - but as a founder, you are so passionate about what you are doing and so sure of your vision that it can feel like a failure when you don’t convince someone else, such as a potential investor, to share that vision.
I moved past it by first - giving myself reality check. You hear “no” more than you hear “yes” as an entrepreneur, and the persistence to keep going and resourcefulness to adapt is what differentiates a good entrepreneur from a great one. And second, I reminded myself that you can always figure it out! That’s your job as an entrepreneur, after all - to problem solve. And as an entrepreneur, you simply have to have unrelenting confidence not that you will always get it right or always get that “yes”, but that you will always figure out how to get the results you need. You have to forget about making mistakes or “failing”, and focus on just getting out there and trying.
On this note, I have two favorite quotes that are worth sharing to all entrepreneurs and creators: One is from Thomas Edison, who said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And one from Reid Hoffman, who said: “An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down." These remind me to focus on being resourceful and solving problems vs. getting hung up on “getting it right” every time.
What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future?
Little Spoon is building the brand for the modern parent by designing high quality, convenient products for all the milestones that matter to a child’s health and wellbeing. We started by bringing fresh, organic baby food directly to your door nationwide (and we delivered over 1 million meals in just our first year!) and we aren’t stopping there. We recently raised $7M to continue to scale our fresh, organic baby food business and will be continuing to serve our families as their children’s needs evolve, so keep a lookout for lots of new offerings this year 😊.