Helene Berkowitz is a Retail Tech executive and startup founder with a background in finance and international payment systems. She is passionate about technology with a human component. In 2017, Helene founded ReceetMe to create a digital retail experience focused on the customer experience.
Where did the idea for ReceetMe come from?
I bought a pair of jeans for my husband because he doesn’t like shopping for himself. When he tried them on, they didn’t fit. I went back the next day to exchange them for a different size, only I couldn’t find the receipt.
You know how frustrating it is when you go digging through a purse or pocket searching for a receipt and it’s just gone? It’s a moment of incredible frustration. You’ve lost money and you’re stuck with a purchase you can’t (or don’t want to) use. This was my lightbulb moment. I knew there had to be a better way. After all, we live in a digital world, so why aren’t receipts digital?
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m pretty sure the phrase “typical day” is a myth. Life is a constant juggling act. Between my family and my business, being productive means prioritizing things while being super flexible.
That means when I’m on a business call at precisely the moment my kids need help with homework or a Zoom class, someone else deals with it. On the flipside, I don’t schedule meetings during family time or holidays. Having a supportive spouse and older teens makes this feasible.
If a business matter comes up that requires a ton of focus or research, I try to do that early in the morning or late at night when things are quiet.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always have the consumer in mind:
- What drives consumer behavior?
- What do they need or want?
- How can we use technology to make things easier, more convenient, frictionless, and fun.
I also read a lot. Market research never ends.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Contactless dining. Our new reality is pushing the boundaries of innovation. The concept of contactless retail isn’t new, but taking this into the restaurant industry is, and it may very well become a game changer.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Taking a lot of small breaks throughout the day. The culture of constant hustling too often leads to burnout. Making the time for breaks in between so many projects and responsibilities keeps my perspective fresh and helps me avoid burnout.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Limit the business events you attend to the ones that are industry-specific or serve a real purpose. You don’t have to go to 100 events. Choose wisely.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Cash is still king. Many people have come to believe that the world is completely cashless, that credit cards and touchless payments rule and cash is dead.
This could not be further from the truth. The data speaks for itself, especially in the US, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Singapore. In fact, according to the European Central Bank, three-quarters of consumer transactions in the euro area are made in cash, making it the primary method of payment in the EU.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Tag other companies and media sources in your social media posts. If I share an interesting article on ReceetMe’s social channels, I don’t simply click the ‘share’ button. I put a lot of thought into the content, and I tag the company and/or individual mentioned in the article as well as the publication, ie. Forbes, NRF, Total Retail, etc. You’re more likely to gain exposure by tagging others, since this adds to their (and your) credibility.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I use LinkedIn extensively. It’s a critical resource for developing authentic business relationships. People are more likely to talk to you even from a cold LI message. Of course, whenever possible, I utilize mutual connections for warm intros.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When we were just starting out, I chased investors far too much. I talked to quite literally anyone who would listen, and I didn’t do much research into them beforehand. This wasn’t helpful or a productive use of my time. I overcame it after listening to mentors and businesspeople I held in high regard explain how much more important it was to focus on my team and the product.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
On-call tailors and seamstresses. Despite hi-tech solutions to many everyday issues, clothing alterations haven’t really evolved. They should. Even before the pandemic, who had time to take clothes to a tailor?
We can book a doctor, dentist, electrician, plumber, or massage appointment on our phone. Why not a tailor? I know many people (myself included) who would gladly pay higher prices for the ability to schedule an on-call clothing alteration, especially for urgent situations like a wedding, business trip, prom, holiday party, etc.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Dinner delivery. It was a particularly stressful week, personally and professionally. My family was hungry, no one felt like cooking, and I had a conference call that evening to prep for. We ordered dinner and within the hour, were sitting down to a delicious, stress-free meal.
Too often, people – especially women – feel like they have to do it all. No, we don’t. This was the best $100 I spent. It completely turned the day around.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Kapwing. I use Kapwing’s subtitle maker to automatically add subtitles to our company videos. This service uses AI tech to auto-generate text according to voice. It’s a huge time saver, super easy to use, and really amplifies our video content quality.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Around the World in 60 Seconds: The Nas Daily Journey”. I loved it because I followed the author’s FB videos and was so often inspired by his travels and messages, and the short formats kept me engaged and interested. The book puts Nas’ global video journey into print format. I believe that unique insights into different cultures can change our perspectives in positive ways.
What is your favorite quote?
“Authenticity is your most precious commodity as a leader.” – Marcus Buckingham
- Approach your business from the customer’s perspective. Does it solve a problem for them? How will it impact their lives? Keeping this at the forefront of everything you do is a winning strategy.
- Have a strong support system in place. Whether that’s family, close friends, former colleagues, whomever they are, make sure they’ve got your back.
- Failure isn’t always a bad thing. Use it as a stepping stone for learning and growth.
- Just because others don’t agree with you or share your vision doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Very often, it means you’re right and they just can’t see your insights. Stick with what you know to be true.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.