City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Startups

Twitter@KateEndress

Website: www.ditto.com

When Kate's company www.ditto.com got sued by patent trolls and a big company 1-800 Contacts, Kate could have given up - because I would have, I thought. In true Kate fashion, she chose to fight this impossible battle, and fast forward to today, is on her way to win it. This story says everything about Kate, the entrepreneur. It is a story of tenacity, determination and optimism. Kate has inspired me throughout my own Pause & Shine journey to keep going. I have called her when I needed advice; friends call her when they are on the verge of giving up. Kate left her finance job and attended Stanford business school, soon to be reunited with her true passion. Today, she is the CEO and co-founder of www.DITTO.com, an ecommerce site selling designer sunglasses and eyewear, featuring cutting edge new video “try-on” technology.

On Passion

kate_13_passion.jpg
Ask my mom and she’ll tell you I’ve never been a ‘rules person.’ In high school, I started training girls on how to play basketball out of my driveway. I realized I could make money doing something I enjoyed, control my schedule and not have a boss. The idea of becoming an entrepreneur excited me and I believe it is my life’s calling.

On Mastery

kate_6_seeyourselfedgy.jpg
I decided to major in Entrepreneurship in college, and it just clicked. I felt it was a good match with my inherent skill sets, which gave me confidence needed to start my first business while in college.

On Transition

kate_5_glasses.jpg
I ended up working in finance for four years. It paid well and I was learning a lot. One day I was watching a co-worker/friend work through a financial model and he was just loving it. I realized that I did not feel like that about the work and that’s when I decided it was officially time to make the transition back to entrepreneurship. I applied to business school so I would have time to get an idea off the ground.

On Failure

kate_10_vision.jpg
My current business, DITTO.com, has not always been a smooth ride and certainly there have been stretches that didn’t look like we were going to survive. I think the key to getting through the rough patches is just to keep moving forward and keep refocusing on things you can control. From my experience, that tenacity usually lands you in a good place.

On Fear

kate_4_cards.jpg
If I’m being honest, I really have never feared failure because my ‘worst case scenarios’ were never THAT bad. I am lucky to come from a strong and supportive family that I know will be there for me if I ever truly fall on hard times. I’ve also had instances in the past that were hard and that I managed to get through in one piece.

On Money

kate_2_ditto.jpg
It’s been somewhat stressful to make financial concessions but I don’t regret it. I’ll take happiness over a new cashmere sweater any day!

On Self-Love

kate_12_laugh.jpg
Starting a company is a very stressful endeavor because there are just a ton of things to do and simply not enough resources to do them well. There are a lot of unknowns and even more ups and downs.
There are three things I’ve learned to do that have really helped me cope with the stress: stop feeling guilty when I’m not working, get a good night’s sleep and work out. It seems impossible at times to fit it all in but I’ve found that when I feel good about myself, it translates into lots of other good things for me. I’m my best self when I’m working out 3-4 times a week so I make time for it.

On Inspiration

kate_11.jpg
I’m inspired by my Uncle John. He had a catastrophic neck injury while hiking that has left him as a quadriplegic. He has handled his injury with an incredible amount of grace and courage. While not as easy path forward, John is happy and remains an incredible father, husband and uncle. Truly unbelievable!

On Support

kate_7.jpg
I don’t love the idea of ‘seeking a mentor.’ I like getting support from authentic, naturally formed relationships with friends, family and investors. I have a few female friends in particular who are also starting their own businesses so I have a network of people around me when I need to vent, swap stories or ask for an opinion.

Advice to the Community

kate_9_advice.jpg
I have dozens of friends who talk to me about their passions but don’t seem willing to take the necessary steps to make it happen. My advice is to stop talking and starting acting. Start small if you have to by taking a night class, selling things on Etsy, doing weekend work, etc. But success only comes to those to are action-oriented. My key advice: take active steps to improve your situation. You’ll only regret what you didn’t have the courage to attempt.

Comment