Get to know... Holly Hurd, Darien’s Venture mom
Published 12:00 am, Friday, September 8, 2017
DARIEN — Holly Hurd prides herself on never having worked for anyone else.
An entrepreneur from an early age, the Darien resident of 22 years grew up studying commodity trading and futures management “at the elbow of her father,” and from there went on to manage her own funds.
Since 2010, she’s made it her mission to help other moms — Hurd is a mother of three — who share her entrepreneurial spirit. It was at that time she launched the site Venture Mom, which started as a blog highlighting women in business and has now grown to include an online marketplace, consulting and lessons for prospective Venture Moms.
Hurd published an instructional book in 2012 called “Venture Mom: From Idea to Income in Just 12 Weeks,” and continues to profile entrepreneurial women.
Q: Before Venture Mom you were involved in entrepreneurial ventures of your own. What were those and when did you decide to get into that kind of work?
A: I’ve never worked for anyone else. I grew up trading commodities and managing futures. I had my own fund in the 1980s, Holliston Hills Cta, Inc., and then I had another fund, Hill Financial Group, and we developed algorithms that we placed on top of markets to tell us when to buy and sell. In 2002 we sold that technology to a large commodity trading advisor (CTA). I had become a real estate broker then, here in town and also in Nantucket.
I love motivational books and I read them all the time. So I said, ‘I’m going to write my own motivational book.’ I came up with the title “10 Ways to Find Your Fulfillment.”
We had a ski house at Mount Snow and it was a 3-hour drive and I get really bored in the car. So I was working on this motivational book and I wanted to find stories of people who were motivated as examples. So I started interviewing women, and when I looked around my world — I had young kids — the women who I thought were fulfilled and motivated were moms who had started businesses.
Q: How did the idea for the book turn into Venture Mom?
A: I started interviewing moms and writing their stories for the book. What I realized is that I didn’t have an agent, a publisher, followers. I didn’t have a platform. Getting the book published with none of that was really difficult.
And so I started thinking about what these women were that I was writing about. They were moms that had ventures. They were venture moms. And I was a venture mom.
Blogging was in vogue then. So I decided to start a blog around 2010. I got the domain. I wasn’t very tech savvy, so my son would help me, up until the point when he was leaving for school and said, ‘I’m leaving for school soon and I’m enabling you. If you want to figure something out, Google it.’ I figured out how to do it.
Q: Having never blogged, were you nervous?
A: It took me two weeks to hit the send button because I was scared. I was thinking, who’s going to read it? What will people think? Who am I? Why do they want to listen to me?
But I was putting it out there and the feedback was great. I was going to do profiles once a month but I got so much great feedback and so many people who wanted me to tell their stories that I started doing it once a week. It grew from there.
Q: At first how did you find the moms you were profiling?
A: I reached out to them. They were people with a product I had bought or a service I had heard about. Or I read about them in the paper. Venture Moms are everywhere.
Q: How many moms have you profiled to this point?
A: Over 250.
Q: Where are the moms located?
A: It’s nationwide. I do have a concentration in Fairfield County because that’s where I live. But I’ve profiled moms in Boston, Atlanta, North Carolina, California, Canada. All over.
Q: What advice would you give to a mother who might have entrepreneurial motivations but is hesitant to start her own venture?
A: There are five things I’ve found in interviewing these women.
The first is if you want to be successful, you have to start a business around something you really enjoy. And it’s usually something you’re already doing.
The second thing is if you’re going to start a business, tell everyone you know what you’re going to do.
The third thing I would tell them is you don’t need a business plan. You need a business model, but you don’t need a 40-page business plan.
The fourth thing is you don’t need to borrow money. Ninety-five percent of my women are self-funded. Granted, a lot of the women had the luxury of their husband supporting the family. But you can start a six-figure business with one email. In this day and age, everyone has followers who have followers who have followers.
The fifth thing I would tell them is everybody is scared. So don’t be scared, just do it, get started and go. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Q: In addition to profiling established Venture Moms, do you get Venture Moms reaching out to you for advice?
A: Yes. I’m sort of a venture detective. I have what’s called Venture Hour — find your venture in an hour. I have a whole questionnaire. I have a way of honing in on what they like to do, who they like to be with and where they like to be.
I also have a Quick Start. It’s basically defining what you’re going to do, branding yourself and putting it out there.
And then I’ve taken my 12 Weeks from Idea to Income and I’ve put it into a webinar.
I’m about getting to your paycheck. You can’t wait till it’s perfect, you have to get to your first paycheck.
Q: What is your goal for Venture Mom?
A: My goal is to help every woman in America start her own business, or her own sideline business or earn her own extra income. I just think it’s that easy. I want Venture Mom to be in the national vernacular. I want to take this message to everyone. Especially now, I think times are really tough economically and I think even if women have full-time jobs, there is so much they can do to make extra money.