Connections: An Interview Series with Entrepreneurs

10/31/2016 01:34 pm ET

Orit Hashay is a serial entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in software and business development. She is a former investment manager at Carmel Ventures and founded Israel's most successful wedding platform, mit4mit.co.il, which she coded herself. Hashay was named one of Forbes' 10 Female Founders to Watch in Israel and TechCrunch's Three Israeli Femme-preneurs to Keep an Eye On in 2013. She was also named one of Globes Israel's Top 50 Most Influential Women and picked for the top 100 Girls in Tech throughout Europe by Girls in Tech Network in 2012. As the CEO of Brayola, Hashay has dedicated herself to solving real problems facing women today and simplifying the process of finding the perfect bra through crowdsourced algorithms and a data system.

What does IMPACT mean to you?

IMPACT, to me, means many things. First and foremost, it's changing the way people perceive something or the way that they do something. With Brayola, we are changing the way women shop for bras by introducing smarter recommendations that personalize the experience. As a female entrepreneur, my success can be impactful for many young women out there -- especially those who are in software development or engineering who one day dream of being an entrepreneur, founder and CEO. IMPACT means doing something so well that it leaves a lasting impression on generations to come.

What gives you the drive/passion to do what you do? In other words, what is your WHY?

I am fueled by my passion for solving the challenges that women encounter when shopping online. I was inspired to build Brayola because during my first pregnancy, I experienced just how terrible it was looking for a new bra -- especially in brands that I've never worn before. While we can buy an entire walk-in closet worth of shoes, bags, jackets, shirts, skirts and everything else, many women are less adventurous when it comes to buying new bras.

My passion for wanting to help solve this conundrum for women is what drives me, and when I see how much women in the Brayola community have benefitted from our technology and shopping experience.

HOW do you get your mission out into the world?

When we first started, we knew that building a community on social media would be important. We launched a bra-fitting game called "Fit or Not" and challenged women to share photos of themselves wearing bras to let other women in the community vote on it. Surprisingly (and totally unexpected), more than two million women have played Brayola's Fit or Not game, and this not only helped refine or recommendation algorithm, but it also helped us grow a community of avid fans.

To reach our U.S. customers, we knew that we had to do something fun, engaging and delightful. Recently, we hosted a a #FindYourSize challenge during NYFW to engage with women in New York. For this activation, we installed two massive cash machines in Union Square Plaza so women could go inside and try to find a pink dollar bill with their bra size on it. #FindYourSize was designed to showcase how difficult it could be to shop for a bra. The turnout was impressive and more than 200 women gave it a shot.

If you can bring anyone to lunch (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

I know we can only say one...but I'm going for two! I would love sit down with Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi. This quote always stays with me "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." This is an amazing ethos to remember when building a company, and it has proved to be very true for me now that I am running Brayola.

What is one thing you are doing right now that is taking your business to the next level?

Just last year, we turned on the ability for women to shop directly from Brayola.com. Previously, we would only give them recommendations, and then send them to a third-party site to complete the purchase.

Since we've allowed shoppers to purchase bras directly from us, we've seen our sales grow exponentially. Not to mention, bringing on lingerie-industry veteran, Margo Andros, as our SVP in Merchandising really helped us ramp up our brand partners and inventory variety.

What habits helped make you successful?

Persistence and fearlessness are habits that have helped make me successful. As a female founder pitching VC's about the woe's of bra shopping, it not only took a lot of guts, but also, a lot of patience. Being persistent and unafraid of shocking the audience or investor is one trait that helped me get through the initial embarrassment that men feel when talking about topics like lingerie in a non-sexual context.

What mindsets helped make your successful?

Anything is possible. If you believe you can do something, you can. The first step is to acknowledge the goal, the next is to believe in yourself.

What did you learn from your biggest failure?

The first company I founded was very successful, and because it worked so well, I thought that I could do it again. This time, I brought on a co-founder: my significant other. Needless to say, we were barely able to get the startup off the ground -- it was a huge failure, and on top of that, we also ended our relationship. Starting and growing a business is hard enough, but when you don't give yourself a sanctuary to escape and instead, combine your work life and personal life like I did, you run the risk of losing both the person you love and the business that you were hoping to build. Through this experience, I learned to never go into business with a significant other again, and also, how to balance my work life and home life so that I can stay sane.

What was your first concert?

I went to my first concert when I was 15 years old when Michael Jackson came to Israel :)

Andi Wickman is a Business Strategist who helps business owners increase traffic through strategy and high vibe marketing.

She helps them stand out and works with them to create and target a message that will reach and resonate. She teaches clients how to be authentic, relatable and consistent, allowing them to be seen as THE expert in their industry.

You can hang out with her in her Facebook group for business owners who are building empires while having fun! The group is for the passionate, high achieving go-getters who want to collaborate with other high level entrepreneurs.

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