LEORA KADISHA, 26
StyledOn.com, a fashion social network for finding and buying clothing, Beverly Hills
FINANCIALS: Not profitable.
Leora Kadisha has known that she wanted to be an entrepreneur since she was a young girl.
Maybe it’s because she grew up watching her father, tech entrepreneur Neil Kadisha, and cousin, hotelier Sam Nazarian, run their own businesses.
So in 2009, as a 22-year-old senior at Boston University, Kadisha developed the idea for StyledOn as part of an independent research project.
Kadisha initially self-funded the venture but eventually called on her father – a former Qualcomm Inc. board member who also runs private equity and investment firms – to be her first and only investor.
“When I started the company, I was very stubborn and wanted to do it on my own,” she said. “The professor I was working with said, ‘Don’t be stupid.’ That was the catalyst for me to stop looking at my dad as just my dad and instead look at him as a brilliant, successful entrepreneur.”
After two years beta testing the site, she launched StyledOn to the public in January. The website has an audience of more than 80,000 each month.
The company draws visitors to the site with photo spreads of trendy clothes. People can post their own pictures of the latest Prada handbag, for example. StyledOn makes money by creating affiliate partnerships with high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus. So when people click on those Prada handbag photos, they are sent to a website where they can buy that purse.
StyledOn’s first offices were in New York, but Kadisha has since moved the headquarters to Beverly Hills to be closer to the technology community. She found her first employee, an editor who has since been promoted to creative director, from a Craigslist ad. The company has eight employees.
The biggest challenge in starting StyledOn at such a young age was flying solo.
“I was never opposed to the idea of a partner, but I underestimated the importance of it,” she said. “There’s nothing like having a true co-founder that shares the highs and lows of building a company.”
Kadisha regularly pulls 12-hour days. She said her youth has helped her compete in the tech industry, where many company founders are younger than 30. And because she’s young, she’s not afraid to admit when he doesn’t know something.
With more than two years of experience, Kadisha has realized nothing – not even her father’s entrepreneurial success – could have prepared her for the job.
“You’re never as ready as you think you are to start a company,” she said. “So much of the journey is in the unknown and figuring it out one day at a time.”
– Natalie Jarvey