Lara Crystal previously was a founding member at Rent the Runway, an e-commerce business that rents luxury clothing and accessories to women, where she served as the Vice President of Marketing. Lindsey Andrews, meanwhile, spent her career in consumer products at Fresh Direct and Soap.com; she most recently helped launch Wag.com and built it into a leading pet e-commerce business.
Together, seeing a need in the market, they turned their love for entertaining and tech-savvy into Minibar, the on-demand service which gives users access to personal delivery of wine, liquor, beer, mixers and more through its simple app and online ordering page. Minibar has expanded rapidly and is now available in dozens of major cities across the US including New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Houston, Dallas, and growing.
How has your life experience made you the leaders you are today?
Both of us benefited from a non-linear career path. Lindsey started out in real estate and Lara was an actuary. I think now as leaders we appreciate hard work and a willingness to learn more than anything. We look for people that are passionate and want to build something - regardless of whether they've done it before. And it's helped us build the incredible team we now get to work with every day.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenures at Minibar?
We both were incredibly lucky to have some amazing experience prior to starting Minibar. Lara was part of the founding team at Rent the Runway and learning firsthand how to build and scale a business. Lindsey was part of an incredible team at Quidsi (Diapers.com, Soap.com, Wag.com), where she learned how to scale acquisition and operations effectively.
What have the highlights and challenges been at Minibar?
I would say these are one in the same, the best part of Minibar is our amazing team and getting to work with people you respect and enjoy spending time with but that also means we set the bar high and it can be a challenge to find the person that fits culturally, that we want to spend everyday with and that has the right skillset.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
I think one lesson we've learned is not to let a lack of experience in a particular industry scare you away. It can be an advantage to look at things with a fresh perspective.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your careers to date?
Make mistakes. You hear it a lot but it's so important to push yourself and constantly be learning.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Having each other and a great team helps. With two of us there's someone there to pick up the slack. And hiring great people makes all the difference as you grow. You can't build a company by yourself.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Finding great mentors that can help you navigate your growth and your career.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal lives?
Since we've both made several career changes, it's hard to imagine navigating our own paths without great mentors along the way. It can be incredibly difficult to make changes and find your next step without the help of mentors who believe in you - and people in your personal life that support you.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
It's always incredible to see female leaders that help and support other women; I think Jenn & Jenny have done an incredible job of that at Rent the Runway. And one of our earliest investors, Anu at Female Founders Fund, has built an incredible network of female founders that we look to for support.
What do you want Minibar to accomplish in the next year?
Our mission is to build the best way to shop for wine, beer and liquor - this year, we'll be focusing on refining our operations while growing quickly. That will mean scaling our team and doubling in size, while retaining a great culture where we're able to retain our ability to move fast.