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This weblog put up was written by Ellie Gershenwald (Steinhardt ’22) primarily based on an interview with September 2022 Founding father of the Month Lia Winograd (Stern ’19), Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Pepper. 

Pepper is a physique constructive e-commerce firm that makes higher becoming bras for small-chested girls.

Rising up in Colombia, Lia Winograd was uncovered to entrepreneurship from an early age. Her grandfather, an immigrant from Poland, had dropped out of highschool and labored his means as much as proudly owning a button manufacturing unit to assist his household. His story and dedication impressed her to take dangers and begin her personal firm. 

Lia attended Tufts College the place she pursued a level in Economics and Worldwide Relations. After graduating in 2012, she was supplied a job at McKinsey & Firm as a advisor, however determined to take a 6 month hole to affix a startup accelerator in Brazil the place she discovered about totally different startup fashions and labored on constructing a startup within the authorized area. Following this system, she joined the McKinsey group in Colombia and labored there for a number of years earlier than shifting to New York. In New York, Lia labored at Conversocial, a tech startup, the place she ended up assembly her Pepper co-founder, Jaclyn Fu. 

Lia and Jaclyn each struggled to seek out bras that match correctly and comfortably. Realizing that there was an unrepresented class of ladies who usually are not the central piece within the design course of, they determined to take issues into their very own fingers. The co-founders launched Pepper as a Kickstarter marketing campaign in April 2017 with their traditional “All You” bra, which was created particularly for ladies with small chests. In beneath 2 weeks that they had overwhelming assist, reaching over 950 backers and greater than quadrupling their preliminary $10,000 fundraising goal. Seeing this success, Lia utilized to MBA packages to entry extra sources that will permit her to speed up the corporate and she or he was accepted into the full-time program at NYU Stern

Lia instantly targeted her NYU journey on alternatives that have been related to rising Pepper. Lia took benefit of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute’s sources as a participant within the Startup Dash, a two-week buyer discovery and mentorship intensive, and as an attendee at numerous networking occasions and workshops. As Pepper has continued to develop, her most useful takeaway has been the significance of staying in contact with prospects to assist form the longer term technique of the corporate. Through the Dash, she was capable of meet Nobu Nakaguchi (Tisch ‘10), Co-Founding father of Zola, and listen to his recommendation that some of the essential targets as a founder is to make your self invisible. This resonated together with her as a result of founders are usually concerned in each resolution, however with the ability to step away is essential as a result of it means you make the suitable hiring choices. She participated within the Stern Enterprise Fellows program by the NYU Stern Berkley Heart for Entrepreneurship the place she was capable of broaden her community of founders and buyers. In 2018, Pepper raised a pre-seed spherical with participation by the NYU Innovation Enterprise Fund

Since graduating from NYU, Lia has been named to Forbes’ 30 Underneath 30 record for Retail & Commerce and Inc.’s Feminine Founders 100 record. This recognition alongside together with her quite a few packages and experiences have offered entry to worthwhile connections by networking. 

Trying again, Lia reminisced about her most rewarding second alongside her journey as a founder: constructing Pepper’s provide chain in Colombia. It had all the time been a really particular mission for her to offer again to the group the place she grew up, so visiting the manufacturing unit there a number of months in the past for the primary time since earlier than Covid was extremely impactful. She famous how thrilling it was to see how a lot the operation had grown and to study that Pepper has generated over 200 jobs in Colombia.  

Lia stays dedicated to offering excellent options for ladies with smaller chests. With the purpose of proudly owning the closet for each lady within the goal dimension vary, she seems ahead to tapping into different classes sooner or later. 

When requested what recommendation she has to share with aspiring founders, Lia really helpful beginning small and testing demand as a lot as doable utilizing artistic avenues that don’t require quite a lot of funding and emphasised the significance of permitting startups to develop first with out rising the group.