For Kaylin Marcotte, puzzling was a way to relax and unwind in the evenings after her long work days as the first employee at theSkimm. As one of the only things that really helped her unplug, she fell in love with the activity…but wasn’t so inspired by the designs themselves. In 2019, she launched JIGGY. JIGGY is a modern approach to the classic pastime. Each JIGGY puzzle features art by emerging female artists from around the world, with a percentage of every sale going directly to the artist. Each kit also comes with puzzle glue and tool to help you apply it smoothly, so you can frame and hang your art after completion.
I had the chance to sit down and speak with Kaylin over video last month. Based in Brooklyn, Kaylin is no stranger to early stage businesses, having consulted several start-ups, media companies and VCs during her time between theSkimm and launching JIGGY. We chatted all things business-building, from ideation to procurement to expansion.
What has been the most surprising part about starting JIGGY?
“The process of procurement. Especially coming from a more service-focused business. I thought that once you have a product or idea, there are factories out there that you can easily tap into to make that product or idea come to fruition. I had no idea that you actually had to convince a lot of these factories to take you on, especially if you’re just starting out. They really view it as a partnership and I didn’t realize how important it is for you to sell them on your vision and get them onboard. Finding the right partner is so important and is something that can really make or break your business.”
Let’s chat a bit about funding. How has the business been funded to date?
“Bootstrapping. I used personal savings and luckily the factory had pretty decent credit terms and I was able to start selling before I had to start paying. I’d love to see how far I can take it before raising outside capital. Profitability is so important and I think that if you can show good numbers, there’s a way to sort of hack it together.”
For someone looking to start their own business, what are the top three pieces of advice you’d give them?
- Be honest with yourself.
“I find there’s a lot of obsession out there right now with being a founder, almost like this founder fetish that’s broadcasted on social media and like how the idea of being a founder is super attractive. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that’s not so exciting. Even if your company does have a high valuation, doesn’t mean you’re making that money. So before you do it, make sure it’s for the right reasons. You need to really have conviction with your idea to make it work.”
- Start getting feedback early.
“Don’t be scared to talk about it. Early on, it’s important to have the idea still be malleable. Don’t be too precious with the idea itself. Talk to anyone who will listen about and start to see their feedback. In tech, there is a lot of talk about getting the MVP out there and then iterating, but if you’re trying to build a brand and position it in any kind of premium or elevated way, I don’t think you can really launch without a great product. Your first release needs to be representative of the brand and really strong. So test by talking about it instead.”
- Just do it and get started.
“There’s so much imposter syndrome, especially with women. The only difference between your business idea existing or not is just jumping over the hurdles and doing it. Most of these things aren’t rocket science – it’s grit and conviction in your idea and pushing through any obstacle. The idea that you’re not set up for success because you don’t have whatever XYZ degree is not true. You can pretty much figure anything out, it’s just a matter of doing the work.”
What are you excited about for 2020?
“I’m really excited about some big collaborations. We started off with 6 puzzles in our initial collection and we’re excited about new partnerships and collabs. . We’ve had lots of imbound which has been super exciting. Right now, a percentage of each sale goes to the artist who created that design but I’m really interested in expanding and widening impact to support women in creative fields and women in design. We’re also launching new products like cards and accessories. For Valentine’s Day, we launched some fun greeting cards so really looking to continue that.”
For more on JIGGY, visit https://jiggypuzzles.com/