There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.
Meet: Carly Martinetti, who launched her small business on reality TV. Carly is the Chief Feline Officer (CFO) of Pretty Litter, which is based in Santa Monica, California. Carly, 24, is currently starring on ABC Family’s Startup U, which is held at Silicon Valley-based Draper University’s entrepreneurial program and airs on Thursdays at 5p.m. ET through mid-October. On the show, entrepreneurs compete for funding under the guidance of famed venture capitalist Tim Draper. Carly’s crowdfunding campaign kicks off on Kickstarter in mid-September.
Carly is disrupting the kitty litter market. Her brainchild, Pretty Litter, which is low cost, lightweight, scoopable, flushable, dust-free and eco-friendly, changes color to detect common feline health problems early so “pet parents” can save on vet bills.
Being on Startup U has enabled Carly to “to collaborate with chemists, marketers and successful entrepreneurs” to create her innovative, diagnostic kitty litter product.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Carly Martinetti: A zookeeper! I’ve been obsessed with animals for as long as I can remember.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Martinetti: It was less about starting a business and more about solving a problem. My cat had gotten very sick and the vet told me that had we caught the infection sooner there would not have been as many complications. I wanted to figure out a way to prevent this from happening to my cat and others in the future so I created Pretty Litter.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Martinetti: When I actually went from idea to real product. It’s incredible knowing that you can dream something up and nowadays, thanks to all of the incredible technology out there, you can probably create whatever it is you want made!
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Martinetti: Surround yourself with smart people. Never be the smartest person in the room. If you are, you’re in trouble. I always want to have people who are willing to work just as hard, if not harder, and can complement my skill sets.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Martinetti: Don’t reinvent the wheel. I mean, you can, but there is so much you can do with what’s already out there that you’re better off, in my opinion, improving something rather than starting fresh. It also gets you out the door faster, which can be hard for entrepreneurs scared to take the leap into owning their own businesses.
Lesonsky: Do you have a small business prediction?
Martinetti: To play in the social media world, small businesses will have to start paying. The organic reach on Facebook and Twitter is not at all what it once was , so if you’re looking for any kind of engagement, you’re going to have to set aside some of your budget.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Martinetti: The Harry Potter series. I love all the mythical beasties.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Martinetti: “Sometimes you never realize the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” —Dr. Seuss
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.