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A 29-year-old startup founder who built an ecommerce empire shares her advice for entrepreneurs

Unnamed 3Amber Venx Box

Amber Venz Box has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. 

The recent inductee to Forbes 30 under 30 list for retail and ecommerce told Business Insider that she started her own business in middle school selling jean skirts.

“This was back when jean skirts were a big thing,” Box said.”I figured out how to stress denim using old jeans, bleach, and razors.”

She was in sixth grade.

The business didn’t last long. Box had yet to learn one of the most fundamental lessons of business: the market price of a firm’s goods must exceed the cost of production. 

“Also, my teachers didn’t take too kindly to me mending my wares in the back row of their class,” Box added.

By the time Box was a student in college she was a seasoned entrepreneur. She was making $US100,000 a year from a jewellery business she started as a senior in high school. 

“I was making them in my dorm room and then selling them to local department stores in Dallas,” Box said. 

Box’s love of fashion and retail only grew as the years went by. In 2011, when she was 23-years-old and working as a personal shopper, she launched a blog to attract potential clients. That project led to the creation of RewardStyle, a platform that allows so-called influencers “to make cash from their social media content.”

In 2014, in response to the exploding popularity of Instagram, Box launched LIKEtoKNOW.it. The service makes it possible for users to buy merchandise that their favourite Instagram influencers post. When a shopper likes a picture on Instagram, they receive an email with information about where they can buy the item they liked. Since 2014, shoppers have purchased more than $US250 million in merchandise via the service. 

On March 6, LIKEtoKNOW.it launched an app that would allow consumers to buy products they screenshot

According to a press release, “By downloading the app, consumers get a push notification with ready-to-shop product information when they screenshot enabled influencer images across the mobile web, including the content they discover inside of closed mobile social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.”

Box told Business Insider that being a young entrepreneur came with numerous challenges. One of the most difficult hurdles was striking the perfect balance between her personal life and her professional life. The fact that her husband was her business partner made this an especially daunting task.

“In the early days my husband Baxter and I shared a phone and a desk,” she said.”Over time it became difficult to have a healthy relationship.”

Box said the she and her husband overcame this by setting boundaries around their work day and personal life.

“They include simple things such as designating times when we allow each other to talk about work, when we start our work day and end it, and cutting dow the number of night events we commit to,” Box said. 

We asked Box to share her best advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs thinking about starting their own company. She said they should consider the following:

Learn as much as you can about your industry. Learn what motivates people in your industry and take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. When I was in college I took advantage of internships in different cities and different sides of the fashion industry in order to expose myself to everything.

Be your own costumer. We created RewardStyle to create something that I really needed. Look for problems in your own life, a real problem that you and other people have, and try to fix it. And if you continue to be your own costumer, then you will be able to properly critique and improve your product.

Build the right team. The founding team is so vital to a firm’s future success. If you’re a tech firm, and most startups these days are dealing with some sort of technology, then you have to find experienced engineers. They’re going to be more expensive, but it’s worth it. Hiring the cheaper engineers will result in a bunch of speedbumps and cause a ton of headaches. The second thing is finding people with operational experience as early as possible.  You can have the vision, but you need the management. And don’t underestimate the importance of marketing. You can have a great idea, but if you don’t have a solid team or resources to market it, then that idea won’t go anywhere.

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