05/17/2015 04:48 am ET Updated May 16, 2016

Women in Business: Katie Shattuck Markov, Co-founder and CEO of MoveMeFit

Katie Shattuck Markov is co-founder and CEO of MoveMeFit, which aims to transform your fitness experience by optimizing workouts for you. Prior to starting MoveMeFit, Katie worked in product management at SCIenergy, an energy efficiency Software-as-a-Service solution for building systems. Earlier in her career, Katie worked in business development at Silver Spring Networks and in management consulting at The Parthenon Group in Boston and Mumbai. She is on the board of Reading Partners Bay Area. She holds a BA from Williams College and an MBA from Stanford's Graduate School of Business.

After playing three varsity sports in college, Katie found that she fell into a fitness rut over the years of constantly repeating the same workouts, which was both ineffective physically and mentally tedious. A friend convinced her to try a series of new workouts which helped transform her body and her motivation to workout. This inspired her to help others optimize their workout time with MoveMeFit.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
From the time I was little, my parents have always taught me that trust and respect are the most important values to share in relationships. The importance of trust and respect remain critically important to me both personally and in business. Both values are key to working in teams and accomplishing goals at work. I might disagree about an approach or decision, but as long as I trust and respect my teammates, I have confidence that they too are trying to get us to most effectively accomplish our goals.

Growing up, I was always into sports. I grew to love the dedication and commitment it takes to make and stay on a team. I played three varsity sports in college--squash, crew and golf. But I was never the best on any of these teams. It's humbling to make a team but then have to continuously keep working harder to maintain that spot on it. I never wanted to let my teammates and coaches down on gameday, so I had to keep pushing myself in practice. This instilled in me a desire to continuously work hard and learn, which continues to help me daily in business. These experiences also taught me the importance of camaraderie and the importance of creating a collaborative culture at MoveMeFit.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at MMF?
At each transition in my career, I've moved into different functional roles which has prepared me well to handle the many hats you have to wear early on at a startup. I started off in management consulting which exposed me early on to a variety of industries, challenges and potential solutions. After business school, I worked at two start-ups in marketing, business development and product management. These experiences allowed me to dive deep in various functional roles for technologies still establishing their product market fit. Through these roles, I also uncovered the areas that I'm not strong in or don't have experience. This is why it's critical to build and rely on an exceptional team. At MoveMeFit, the most relevant of these areas is development. Fortunately, I was introduced to my co-founder Justin Rhinesmith, who is a rock star at building across platforms and leading an engineering team. I've learned that it's equally important to know your weaknesses, as it is your strengths.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at MMF?
By far the biggest highlights come when we hear from customers about how MoveMeFit has helped them reach their goals. We set out to positively improve peoples' lives by making it easier to live a healthy lifestyle. So when we get unsolicited customer feedback that we are achieving this, it really fires us up! Fitness is a quickly evolving space and so we are continuously trying to not only meet our customer's needs, but also develop exciting and convenient new tools to help them stay fit. Staying abreast of what is happening in the industry, what customers want and don't even know they want, and deciding what to prioritize based on all of this is certainly one of our on-going challenges. We have so many ideas we want to bring to market, but only so many resources with which we can achieve this.

What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
Now is the time! There will never be a completely perfect time in life to make the leap. It's easy to always convince yourself that you should wait until the next promotion, equity to vest, your kids to be older or whatever the reason might be. But that truly perfect moment might not come, or the landscape for the potential company might change and no longer be relevant.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
People are what matter most. I started my career at The Parthenon Group. Parthenon's main hiring criterion was that candidates are smart, nice and driven. I've carried this with me and use this to shape the team and culture at MoveMeFit. First, I want to make sure I am hiring A players that are smart to not only get the job done but also bring original thinking to the team. Next, nice is a key criteria of mine. Having colleagues that are nice fosters a collaborative and open work environment that people enjoy going to everyday. Lastly, working with a team that is intrinsically motived and driven helps foster a culture of innovation and learning.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Working out 5 times a week and spending time with my family have always been priorities for me. I've learned that to have a sharp mind and stay focused I need to prioritize these. It not only benefits me, but also my team at MoveMeFit. Everyone has a few things they need to prioritize in life to wake up feeling fresh and energized, whether its making time for dates during the week, seeing friends, or traveling. The key is to identify what really is most important, and make sure you are spending your time outside of work doing these things. I've also come to realize how important having the proper support in place is. As I am writing this, I have a 5 week-old baby. The MoveMeFit team has been incredibly supportive by helping prepare for my time away, taking on additional responsibilities and communicating clearly while I'm working from home in these early weeks. I'm also fortunate to have a supportive husband who is also willing to adjust his schedule to help me maintain my priorities.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I wish this weren't even still a question. But the truth is that women still earn less than men in equal positions. In my experience, women are more timid to ask for what they believe they deserve and express contrarian opinions. Women, in general, are more attune to feelings and emotions of others so therefore don't want to ripple the waters. The solution falls both to women feeling confident to speak their minds in the workplace and asking for what they want, and also to the senior management of organizations. Many women may not realize they are earning less than a male colleague, this is where it is important for colleagues, both male and female, to identify these gaps within their organization and proactively ensure that men and women are being equally heard and compensated.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've been fortunate to have several great mentors. Not only have they been capable people that I respect, but they've also taken the time to help grow my skills. At work, they've gone out of their way to ensure my career objectives are being met and that I'm on a path to achieve my goals. These relationships have lasted beyond jobs and companies, and those people now serve as trusted sounding boards for my career decisions. Friends also serve as some of my most trusted mentors -I'm inspired by their accomplishments and respect the advice that they provide. I'd like to think that I have taken what I've garnered from these relationships and inspired others.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Margaret Thatcher. She wasn't afraid to drive forward efforts she believed in, even if they weren't the most popular at the time. She was straightforward, spoke her mind and worked hard. Her accomplishments are all a reflection of her attitude. Early on in her career, she ran a couple of times for a parliamentary seat which she knew would be nearly impossible to win. She still put her best effort forward and ran. Despite these early loses, she pressed forward. I've also heard that Margaret Thatcher was more proud to be the first prime minister of Britain with a science degree than the first woman.

What do you want MMF to accomplish in the next year?
So much! We just launched our iOS app and we are thrilled to already see the impact it's had on our users. We want to continue to expand and improve our features so we can continue to make it easier for people to live healthy lives by making fitness as easy as possible to incorporate into their daily routines. And we want to expand our business to new platforms to ensure that MoveMeFit is accessible and convenient to all.