Lindsay Marles - Founder and CEO of Austin Lloyd™

I honestly do not believe in failure. I make mistakes, adjust, and move on. The only failure is not trying or being stagnant.

Lindsay Marles is the Founder and CEO of Austin Lloyd™, a subscription service of premium educational toys for infants and toddlers. Every month that a customer subscribes, they receive 3-5 toys and at least one book that are customized to the development stage of the child. Knowing that 80% of a child’s brain develops by the age of 5, Lindsay launched the company in 2013 to make it easier for parents to jump start their child’s development before they even enter pre-school.

Her interest in early childhood education started with an MBA internship at Dell. She helped launch an educational product for kids and was responsible for the partnerships with Hasbro and Nickelodeon. After receiving her MBA, she worked at UPS in New Product Development and Marketing where she focused on supply chain trends within the retail and ecommerce industries. Austin Lloyd™ allows her to blend her interest in early childhood education with her supply chain and retail experience from UPS.

Lindsay is originally from a small town in eastern Pennsylvania. She moved south to attend Emory University where she received her Bachelors in Business Administration. After college, she worked several years as a consultant at Deloitte before attending Duke’s Fuqua School of Business for her MBA.

Where did the idea for Austin Lloyd™ come from?

My interest in educational products for kids started with my MBA internship at Dell where I launched a product for the Families with Kids segment. The content on that product developed and “aged” with a child as they learned, but it was also fun and entertaining. After I graduated with my MBA, I started working at UPS and I was first introduced to subscription commerce. I started researching the available subscription boxes for young children and saw a gap in the education space. I knew I always wanted to work for a start-up, so when I had an idea that helped blend my interest in early childhood education with my supply chain experience, it was a no-brainer.

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

I ease into my day by having coffee and eating breakfast while I catch up on the news. Then I get to work answering emails and managing any social media comments/requests that occurred overnight. The rest of my day is really dependent on whether or not we are fulfilling orders. If it is the first half of the month, I am ordering toys and fulfilling orders. If it is the second half of the month, my focus is mostly on marketing, selecting the toys and themes for future months, and building relationships (both strategic and with customers).

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have built a strong network of fellow entrepreneurs who help keep me motivated and act as a sounding board for all of my ideas. They have either been through it before or have unique perspectives on how to approach something. Other than that, it’s a lot of trial and error along with not being afraid to take calculated risks.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The entire subscription box industry is still a pretty new trend, so it’s exciting to be in the middle of all of it. There are constantly new companies moving in and out of the market. The opportunity to learn is endless.

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

Without a doubt, staying active. I always make time to work out. It helps clear my head, relieve stress, and keep me focused.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I had a marketing role where there was a ton of bureaucracy and everyone suffered from analysis paralysis. I learned very quickly that I work better in a fast paced environment and that I need to feel like I am making an impact.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Spend a little more money on a web developer. I initially tried to cut corners with an inexpensive web developer, but I ended up paying more in the long run because of all the rework that had to be done. We have a wonderful web developer now and I wish we found him sooner. Overall, I have learned a lot from my mistakes and there is not much that I would change.

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

Network, network, network. I stay motivated and learn so much by surrounding myself with other people in the start-up community. It is also really rewarding to share my experience and help other people. Entrepreneurship can get a bit lonely, so it is also an excuse to socialize and meet new people.

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

Mommy bloggers have helped grow my business more than anything else. Moms base their purchasing decisions on word of mouth, so having mommy bloggers write reviews of our boxes has helped grow the business significantly.

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

I honestly do not believe in failure. I make mistakes, adjust, and move on. The only failure is not trying or being stagnant.

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

I would love for there to be a way to share gym memberships. As more specialty shops open (i.e. Barre classes, spin, etc.) it would be nice to be able to mix it up without having to buy entire memberships to every specialty gym. I could buy a membership to a spin club and swap a class or two with a friend who bought a membership to a barre club, for example.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

When I was seven or eight years old, I set up a stand at the end of my driveway to sell rocks. Not lemonade…rocks. I thought they were cool and assumed everyone else would too. Needless to say, I didn’t make a single sale. I should also mention that I grew up on a small farm with very little traffic on our street. I learned at a very young age that it does not matter how much you like something, there has to be customer demand for it to sell.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

MyEmma for email marketing and I love their templates and customer service. Google Analytics for tracking promotions and traffic. WooCommerce for our shopping cart. for payment processing. Postage Pirate for all of our shipping.

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

Most of the books I read are fictional and just pure entertainment, so I’m not sure I’d recommend them to this audience. However, I am an avid reader of Inc. Magazine and I’d recommend that to any entrepreneur. It’s encouraging to read the stories of other entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Sara Blakely
The founders of BirchBox:

Lindsay Marles on LinkedIn:
AustinLloyd Box on Twitter: @austinlloydbox
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