She started off her talk giving a short background on her journey to The Grommet, from her schooling to working at Continuum, Zigg and following her mentor Meg Whitman (currently the CEO of Hewlett Packard) from Keds to Stride Rite and Playskool.
It was on that journey that Jules realized that big corporations had too much say in the products that succeeded in the market and alternately, failed in the market. Thus, The Grommet was born. Jules went on to explain, “One of the reasons we exist is I learned that retail is secretive… retailers hide product success, it’s the opposite of what startups need. The Grommet doesn’t accept that notion.” Over the past 8 years Jules and her team have worked to make that statement ring true. Being the original champions of companies such as Sodastream, Goldieblox, Fitbit, Cuppow and Cognitea, giving them their voice and letting consumers decide what products succeed.
“Makers are who we worry about all day long, how do we help them.” Jules said. But millennials, by nature, have helped this model work. “Millennials have a different way in thinking about their participation in the industry. You embrace capitalism and for-profit companies but you expect more from businesses. When you buy something there is a larger sense of ‘What am I supporting, what is it doing in the world?’ ” Jules explained.
Jules wrapped up her discussion, before opening up to questions, by talking about the difficulty of securing funding, 1) as a women and 2) in 2008 (during the recession) “I literally walked my shoes off trying to fund this business”, she laughed, clicking her slide deck to a picture of her shoes that had fallen apart while walking from one VC office to the next in Boston. But she received funding and The Grommet continues to grow.