Phoebe Scott – CEO and Founder of Laudville

[quote style=”boxed”]It is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to succeed without the help of those who succeeded before you.[/quote]

Phoebe B. Scott is a creative entrepreneur with an uncommonly diverse background. Originally from suburban Chicago, she has lived in London, Stockholm, and Shanghai and now calls Southern California home. Her formal education includes a JD from the University of Illinois and a BA in Philosophy and Studio Art from Hamilton College. Her work experience spans from teaching English in China to practicing corporate environmental law at a large law firm in Chicago.

Now, as CEO and founder of Laudville, Phoebe is ambitiously pursuing the goal of creating the perfect sharing and discovery platform for social entertainment enthusiasts who share her frustration with existing overly broad or anonymous platforms. Wishing for a way to filter literary, cinematic and cultural recommendations from trusted friends on Facebook, she launched a tech startup – Laudville – a social entertainment platform for sharing and discovering movies, TV shows, music, and books with friends. Phoebe’s blog highlights some of her top picks for fellow entertainment enthusiasts.

While working as a corporate environmental lawyer, Phoebe started a family. She is committed to succeeding at home and work—a dual goal that regularly requires wrangling an energetic 16-month-old with one hand and conducting Laudville’s internal and external affairs with the other. Often with “help” from Klaus and Cappy, the family pets.

Phoebe strongly believes technology can and should help people. As a volunteer for technology-related charity events, Phoebe hopes to bring more diversity to tech and help educate those curious about careers in tech. Phoebe is speaking at Digital Hollywood in October, and some of her past professional talks include:

• Bootstrapping a business — leaving the professional world behind to become an entrepreneur
• Managing your social identity
• Navigating the tech landscape as a non-tech person
• Learning to work effectively with developers
• Succeeding as a woman and mother in tech

What are you working on right now?

My startup, Laudville, just launched open beta so I am busy working on acquiring users, improving the product, expanding the team, and raising funds to keep things moving.

Where did the idea for Laudville come from?

I was sitting at my law desk watching TV online (work was slow) wishing there was an easy way to figure out what entertainment my friends and favorite influencers were enjoying and lamenting that I had to go to several sites to get an incomplete and dissatisfying answer. I was tired of waiting for someone else to come up with the perfect product so I decided to try to build it myself.

How do you make money?

We are affiliates of content providers like Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu and plan to launch advertisements and sell marketing data once our user base has grown.

What does your typical day look like?

I know a lot of entrepreneurs say this, but there truly is no such thing as a “typical” day. Each day is balanced between working in the business and working on the business. For me that means communicating with the leaders of each of our teams, keeping up to date with news in both the tech and entertainment industries, strategizing next steps for business development, tracking all of our analytics to make sure things are headed in the right direction, and finally playing with the site to make sure it’s working and is still something I get excited about.

Because I am a mom as well as an entrepreneur, my days also involve making sure to spend quality time with my wonderful 17-month-old daughter.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I start with a big, crazy idea then create the simplest version of that idea, test it with a sample audience, learn from their feedback, iterate based on my findings, put together an incredible and growing team to bring the idea to life, and continuously strive to make the product better.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I am thrilled about the trend toward really high-quality dramatic television with a level of production that used to be reserved for the big screen. Some of my favorite shows include: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, and Homeland.

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

I tried my hand at several different jobs before becoming an entrepreneur (teaching English abroad, editing for a business publication, clerking for a federal judge, practicing corporate environmental law at a big firm) and there truly was no “best” or “worst”. They were just wrong. I learned that even the “best” job can feel like the “worst” job when it’s not right for you and you have an idea or a passion that’s eating away at you and begging you to pursue it.

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

I would learn to code. I don’t think I ever would have been a master developer but the more you know, the easier it is to find the best people to work with and the better you are at managing a development team.

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

I start and end every day with learning–I have a variety of programs, blogs, news sites, and Twitter feeds I follow to stay current on events and connected to people.

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

One of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship is failure but I prefer the term “learning moment”. On more than one occasion, I have failed to follow my gut when an employee or contractor was working on an important project, things didn’t seem to be going smoothly, and I chose to hold my breath and wait instead of dealing with the problem head on. This cost me big time and I had to learn some tough lessons about management styles and skills. When I look back on these moments, I remind myself of one of my favorite mantras: “fail again, fail better”.

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

Job-o-pedia–the first true and useful, user-generated encyclopedia of jobs. You would use it to find out about all of the different jobs that are out there and read personal accounts from the people who hold them about what they actually do on an average day. Everyone I have ever mentioned this to loved the idea and I hope someone has the time and dedication to make it a reality one day. It will be an invaluable tool.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I would make it so that more people in the world respect the environment and work together to alleviate the incredible stress we put on it each day. This can be more easily accomplished now than ever before because of the internet and the general accessibility of information. I would accomplish this by: educating myself as much as possible on the topic, sharing what I learn with my network, and encouraging everyone I meet to do the same.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I get incredibly anxious about being on time. I love the saying “early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable”. It is one of my personal mantras and if it ever starts to look like I’m going to arrive somewhere late, look out!

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Basecamp for project management because it is inexpensive and easy to use.
Buffer for organizing and scheduling Tweets and posts because it keeps all of your social media activity in one place and provides you with a toolbar widget to easily grab and post anything compelling you find on the web.
Tumblr for blogging because there is an enormous, passionate, engaged community to tap into and it’s incredibly easy to create something beautiful and substantive.

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

I highly recommend Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It is very interesting to learn about all of the nuanced but important factors that are behind great successes. It is an informative and inspiring read.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

@slate – they tweet news stories at an incredibly rapid pace and the tag lines are always direct, informative, and intriguing.
@nprnews – if you like listening to NPR on the radio, you’ll love their Twitter feed.
@richardbranson – he tweets about a wide variety of topics and has a genuinely interesting point of view to share that anyone can learn from.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Earlier this week, I walked into my daughter’s room (17-months-old) to get her ready for breakfast only to discover the seriously upsetting news that she had discovered how to unsnap her pajamas and remove her diaper along with its contents. It looked like one of those movie scenes where you think and hope “that never happens in real life”. In our house, it did! But hopefully never again.

Who is your hero?

J.K. Rowling. It took her a long time and a lot of persistence to get her stories published. She had to look at a lot of closed doors and listen to a lot of “no” before she finally got a hesitant “yes”. But as soon as she got her window, she introduced the world to her wonderful imagination and became one of the most important voices in popular culture who has added tremendous value to millions of lives.

What is one thing no entrepreneur can succeed without?

Mentorship. It is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to succeed without the help of those who succeeded before you. Everyone who has achieved some level of success in their lives should ask themselves, “what am I doing to help the next generation?”. If the answer is nothing, get out there and share your wisdom with someone struggling to get to where you are.

What was the scariest thing that ever happened to you?

When I lived in China, my boss stole my passport and kept it from me for almost three months. Eventually, I had to run my own secret mission to steal it back. It sounds funny now and I love telling the whole story but at the time, it was pretty terrifying.