Gizem Mishi Akin - Founder of UpFund.io

I factor learning into every day. If we aren’t learning and growing, we stagnate.

Gizem Mishi Akin is a passionate entrepreneur with multiple successful start-ups in her portfolio. She is a goal driven businesswoman, determined to leave her mark on the world.

She started her career as a Marketing Director at XuQa.com, a social network that she helped grow from 0 to 3M+ users, and was later purchased by a competitor. After her successful exit, she joined Orkim‘s executive team as VP of Sales, where she leveraged her deal-making expertise to personally land major accounts for the chemical solutions manufacturing company based in Europe. Orkim partners with BASF, world’s largest chemical solutions company. During her tenure as VP of Sales, Orkim realized a 12% growth on their revenue.

As an entrepreneur at heart, after leaving Orkim, Mishi decided to create her own startup. She turned her attention to 3D design, and quickly became one of the world’s foremost 3D design modeling experts, within a span of 2 years. Her business, Blueberry Inc., focused on developing 3D models of high-end fashion for virtual communities. Within two years and with less than 5 employees, Mishi’s business was generating millions in revenue. Today, Blueberry Digital, Inc. remains active, with its highest revenue to date.

With Blueberry Digital, Inc. in full swing, Mishi partnered up with two Sillicon Valley veterans to create an Amazon FBA business called Hayswell. This business grew into a million dollar business within six months. What Mishi and her partners learned in the process was that building an online retail business was difficult. They asked simple questions like: how were other sellers funding their businesses? Once they answered these questions, they decided to start yet another business called UpFund.io to help other Amazon sellers fund their online retail businesses. To date, UpFund.io is growing by leaps and bounds and constantly looking for new ways to innovate.

Where did the idea for UpFund.io come from?

I am a passionate entrepreneur who is always looking at ways we can improve how we do business. In one of my startups, we realized that Amazon sellers were challenged with funding for inventory on an ongoing basis. So, my partners and I decided to create a way to innovate and help Amazon sellers sell. It just made sense.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day includes a variety of meetings and appointments. I mix some family time into my schedule and then go back to work. I start early, continue my own learning and education, through the use of several tools I like, and then start my meetings. Most days I have lunch either with my team or by myself. If I am alone for lunch, I try to go for a long walk and then return energized to begin the second half of my day. I find that having structure to my day helps me be far more productive. I also use tools, like Pomodoro, to help my productivity!

How do you bring ideas to life?

When I have ideas of how to innovate, for products, or for company-related changes, I talk to my partners. We try to find every possible hole to fill and once we accomplish that and we know the idea is solid and will work, it then comes to life. By the time you see one of our ideas, it has been through far more testing than most products!

What is one trend that really excites you?

I love that we have grown into an Amazon Lifestyle. Just think about how we used to have to go to so many places and do so many extra errands and now we just live the Amazon lifestyle, which enables us to not only be more productive at work, but also at home.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I factor learning into every day. If we aren’t learning and growing, we stagnate. I also use Pomodoro regularly in the afternoons to help me focus on what I need to do in a defined time period.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To give more to charity. Karma always comes back to you and every time I think I have leveled the playing field with competitors somewhat I give to charity again. It never hurts and you always feel good. I would also tell my younger self to become part of a team you trust and are able to bounce ideas off of regularly. It is easy to have a team that tells you what you want to hear. The real value is in working with those that don’t. When you poke holes in your ideas, they always turn out better than you expect.

Tell us something that is true that almost nobody agrees with you about?

We need to take time to power down to become more productive, even if we have to schedule it for ourselves.

As an entrepreneur, what is one thing that you do over and over and recommend everyone else does?

I never ever stop learning. This is the five year old approach to life. If you are always learning, you are always growing and you never know what great ideas will come out of that as a bonus!

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I always play devils advocate with my co-founders when it comes to new ideas and new products. I keep doing this until we have identified every “what if” and how we will handle it. I don’t let the excitement of a new idea deflect from our business model and makeup. It is so important to stick to that.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

At a prior job I hired someone I knew in my gut was not right for the position but I let their college pedigree get in the way. In the end, the person did not have the qualifications for the job and was unable to do it. I found someone else that could do what I needed, but to this day, I have never forgotten that decision.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Self Cleaning Smart Homes. No more worrying about the cleaning lady. The Jetson’s basically had it so why can’t we?

What is the best $100 you have recently spent?

I went on a customer’s website on Amazon and bought $100 worth of merchandise, without them knowing it, just to support them. I gave the merchandise as bonuses to my team. They felt great. It was a win/win for everyone!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Pomodoro. Definitely. I use it to tune out the noise around me, center my thoughts, and get work done in a defined period of time.

What is one book you recommend our community should read and why?

Broca’s Brain by Carl Sagan. When you read this book you will understand. It will motivate you in ways you never expected.

What is your favorite quote?

“Don’t let a win go to your head or a loss go to your heart.”

Connect:

http://www.upfund.io

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