#NewToNext: Natalie Barnes of SquadPlans
January 28, 2019 | Inspiration
Getting together with friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but the task of getting everyone together can be a challenge. Natalie Barnes realized that when planning her own birthday party and developed an app and website, SquadPlans, that helps you plan, invite, communicate and share before, during, and after your event! SquadPlans helps you to stop emailing and texting, and start your epic planning! Meet Natalie and learn about her entrepreneurial journey.
Your career has taken multiple twists and turns. Please share your story with our readers.
I grew up in a time when your parents told you if you study hard and work hard you’ll always find success. However, I always knew that traditional path wasn’t for me. I started my career as an Electrical Engineer and realized I had a passion for consumer behavior and the why behind purchase behaviors. I returned to school to earn my MBA and from there I gained experience in several industries – aerospace, consumer electronics, quick service restaurants and adult beverages. Throughout my career I always knew I wanted to start something of my own. From creating an organic cookie company in my graduate school dorm room to launching an app 10 years later, I’ve always been driven by creating something from a small idea or insight.
How did you conceive the idea for the app and how did you build it?
I love planning parties – surprise parties, impromptu parties, girls’ weekends, pot lucks amongst friends – you name it, I love to plan it. In 2017 I was turning forty and decided I wanted to have an amazing party in Las Vegas where I could invite all of my friends and family to celebrate with me. I was basically planning a wedding minus the groom! As I began arranging hotel rooms, party venues and food selections, I realized I didn’t have a way to share and communicate with my 50+ guests without creating a long email chain or group text. I started researching websites and apps that could coordinate a weekend full of events and the only sites available were for weddings or an online invite that only communicated one event. I shared my idea with a few friends and began conducting extensive research on app development. I found some up-and-coming developers and agreed upon development milestones to meet monthly. Eight months later I launched an app.
How did you manage a full-time career with the demands of entrepreneurship?
I’ve read many articles on starting a business and the success rates for first-time entrepreneurs. I’m not a huge risk taker and knew I would need to be successful in my full-time career as well as meet the needs of my entrepreneurial passion. I dedicated late nights and weekends to launch the app. Although time consuming and stressful, it was a very exciting moment and I’d do it all over again.
What surprised you the most about entrepreneurship and what were your biggest challenges?
Entrepreneurship is difficult, and it will challenge you in ways a full-time career never will. You can give 150% and still not find the success you’re looking for in the timeline you set out to meet. My biggest challenge was trying to develop an app alone. I had minimal experience in the space and found it challenging to find a mentor or organization that could help me take it to the next level. Finding trust in others that shared your same passion and commitment was challenging as well.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I love the idea of building something from just an idea that can live outside of you one day. Some of the largest brands in the world were created from a small idea that now lives in the minds of consumers every day. I would be proud to build a company that could one day bring excitement to a consumer and hopefully create jobs for a team of people.
What advice would you give to other women who are launching or trying to grow their business?
- Believe in yourself!
- Women oftentimes doubt their abilities to be rockstars! You have to take that first step and believe you can do it.
- You should also find a solid group of friends and mentors that can help you navigate through the pitfalls of an early startup.
“Believe in yourself! Women often times doubt their abilities to be rockstars!”