Welcome to our second installment of Founding Females, where we share the inspiring stories of passionate women who declared their independence and stepped out on their own to build the company they wanted to see in the world.
Today we meet Lindsay Lenard, founder of Gathr, a platform to help busy hostesses and hosts streamline their event planning and plan the parties that everyone talks about.
When I first heard about Gathr, I was like, “Oh heck yes.” I’m the type of person who wants the Pinterest-worthy party but doesn’t want to put in the work. I’m all about doing something a bit different, experiential and fun, but research and planning just aren’t my things.
Enter, Gathr. The game changer.
Gathr is an automated party planning service. They have local vendors in food, drinks, styling and entertainment to help fulfill all of your party needs. They don’t list any franchise companies; therefore they support independent freelancers and small businesses which in return supports Chicago and Chicago families.
You can even search by mood on Gathr! If you’re feeling wild they’ve got fire breathers that’ll put on a show for you and your friends. If you’re feeling cozy you can book something like a hot cocoa bar. You can filter by category and occasion which makes it SO MUCH easier for anyone to plan a unique event be introduced to new vendors that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Genius, right?! One of those I wish I came up with that type of ideas.
ALV: How did you come up with the idea for Gathr?
LL: I had this idea for a while of creating experiences in the world of entertaining. My husband and I have always been invested in experiences over things, so starting something in this realm felt natural to me.
The concept for Gathr really hit home when my husband and I threw our house warming party. I found from my own personal experience that throwing a party can be a ton of work. I wanted to create a seamless way for customers to plan a party without having to put in all the upfront work researching vendors and running errands. On the plus side, when someone hosts a Gathr during their party they can enjoy the company of their guests.
Though she’s passionate about entertaining and creating one-of-a-kind experiences, Lindsay didn’t set out to create them herself. She set out to enable others to achieve this through innovative technology and a hand-picked community of vendors.
LL: Everyone thinks I am trying to become an event planner. They’ll say things like, “Have you always wanted to be an event planner?” I am not an event planner, I am the founder of a tech company.
I wear all the hats from designing our user interface design to being the finance department and the sales guru. In some respects, I see where the misconception is because I do help others plan the ultimate party in conjunction with our catalog of incredible vendors!
From the moment she entered the corporate world, Lindsay knew she wouldn’t be there forever. She didn’t quite fit exactly into the 9-5 mold. She was far too excited about pursuing her own passion projects and doing the things that brought her joy.
She eventually left her corporate career and became a full-time traveling freelancer. This experience validated for her that she was on the right path. Going back to Corporate America was not in the cards. Creating her own destiny was.
But she faced a massive challenge that many of us entrepreneurs encounter. We’re not just sitting on unlimited funds to continue to keep the lights on and food on the table while we bring our visions to life.
LL: I had to make some sacrifices in my career and in my personal life to get where I wanted to be, and I am still living this truth. Initially, I did not have unlimited funds built up, so starting a business with little to work with was a challenge in itself but it’s definitely doable. You learn to take risks, decide where to be frugal in your business, and discover how to scale quickly.
This challenge has taught me to hustle out of necessity. I needed more money to release a new site and to put out a better product. I needed more money for advertising. I wanted to reach the correct audience so I got to work.
If I could enter the praise hands emoji into this blog post, here is where they’d go! Some of our most creative solutions to date have been born from the fact that we have very limited funds. You get creative. You get scrappy. I always say (and hope we honor this when ALV is a huge success!), don’t spend the budget because you have it. Find the most creative solution because it’s possible.
And that’s what Lindsay has been doing every step of the way!
Looking back, there have certainly been lessons learned but no regrets.
ALV: If you could start your business over again, what would you do differently?
LL: I don’t think I would change much. There were things I wish I could have had sooner like a custom site but that sort of project was outside my budget at the start and I didn’t have the resources. It’s all a learning process and it’s so hard to prepare yourself and know what’s right. You figure it out as you go.
You just have to get started. It’ll never be the right time or you’ll never have enough money. I think this applies to a lot of aspects in life such as traveling and starting a family. It can be intimidating but sometimes you just have to take the leap.
I love this mentality. So many of us are waiting for the perfect moment to start living the lives we want and chasing the things we dream of. That moment likely won’t fall into your lap. You have to decide that now is your moment and embrace whatever chaos may come with it.
But you certainly don’t have to do it alone. We all need a support structure around us, especially when we are doing something as bold as starting a business.
ALV: Who has been most helpful to you on your entrepreneurial journey?
LL: My husband. He says it how it is but is also rooting me on every step of the way. He also knows a thing or two about coding!
I am also so proud of the work our vendors have done to make these parties come to life. Without them, our platform would not exist so I feel very grateful for every individual on board.
Whether you’re looking to become the next tech founder or have been putting off that dream vacation for the “right” time, take a page from Linday’s book, Gathr the courage and take the leap.
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