What I most admire about Kristi is that she turned herself into a success. Kristi saw a problem in the fundraising world, found a way to solve, and put it out there. I have massive respect for women who create the lives they want and that’s Kristi in a BIG way.
Her company Auction Frogs started out as a hobby. She loves non-profits and helping with their fundraising efforts. In the traditional silent auction model, non-profits struggle with how many people will show up and how much people are willing to bid on items. Kirsti wanted to reach more people and help non-profits earn more money. She took this passion and goal and created an online auction which eventually became Auction Frogs.
It grew from a local effort to one that helps non-profits and communities across the country. As that happened it grew from a hobby to a larger scale business that now includes management of bidding and audiences as well as live auctions.
Of course, as this grew from a hobby helping her daughter’s school to an in-demand business, Kristi had to confront some fears. She was worried about how she’d balance everything – family, volunteering, creating a company, etc.
To continue being the present, wonderful mom she wanted to be, she surrounded herself with people who could help her get there. She created mentor programs and a team of people she could look to for support. Most importantly, she asked for help. She asked friends to take on tasks and looked to advisors to give her a new perspective.
From the outside, it looks like some sort of magic fairytale, but the truth is, Kristi had to struggle and “fail” just like anyone else starting a business. There were moments when she had to change direction from her vision because it was possible with current technology or because the clients wanted something different. One of her defining moments was automating the online bidding process before mobile devices like smartphones existed. It wasn’t what she was planning, but it shifted her company’s focus.
Another big shift was moving from having friends help her to hiring actual employees and having to learn how to manage staff. It truly shifted to a business in that moment.
Although Auction Frogs is a technology company, Kristi had no prior experience in technology. She just knew there had to be a better way to online auctions for non-profits and set out to solve the problem. When she saw that what she was looking for didn’t already exist at an appropriate price point, she realized she could do it by finding the right people to help her.
As with most successful entrepreneurs, Kristi credits several people with influencing her success and helping her grow. When she first started, she surrounded herself with people who knew the industry and how to start a business. As she grew, she found people who understand growth and partnerships. Now that it’s an established company with solid technology, there’s a different group of people who help guide her. The key point is that she never tried to do it alone.
Kristi says the best piece of advice she ever got was to trust her gut. Whether it’s business, parenting, relationships, etc., your intuition knows what’s best. If the organization isn’t a good fit or the client isn’t a good fit, it’s important to say that and work only with partners and clients that align with your mission.
The hardest thing about following your gut is that your rational brain doesn’t always agree. We’re told we should make the logical choice, but when your gut disagrees, Kristi has learned to follow that intuition because even though it doesn’t make sense, it’s right.
Kristi is a positive person and always looks to inspire others and be inspired by others. In addition, Kristi is spending time learning about how to find the best ways to align and partner with other businesses that help both companies grow without it being a full merger or acquisition.
Just like many entrepreneurs, Kristi never really shuts off. She’s almost constantly thinking about work and how to grow her business. When she needs to take a break, she spends time with family and friends. Being with people who inspire her helps her renew her energy and take the necessary break to maintain focus.
Kristi’s best advice for women starting their own business is to find your passion and surround yourself with people who support you and understand you. People who will elevate and inspire you in all facets of your own growth. Also, make sure you’re taking time to recharge so you don’t lose yourself.
I think Kristi’s story mirrors the path of many entrepreneurs. What parts of her story resonate with you?