Free x Rein Co-Founders Andrea Vogel and Dana Schwartz sit down with Lucy Davis and Lindsay Douglass of The PonyApp to chat women, startups and the challenges and opportunities of the horse world.
Andrea: Have you guys had any specific experiences as female entrepreneurs? I feel like the riding world is pretty evenly split, male, female, but obviously the tack world is more male dominated. Have you had any experiences on either side?
Lucy: Growing up in California, and in this riding world where it's pretty even, men versus women competing at all levels, so I think we had a pretty good start to things in that sense, we just never really thought there was anything different. But we definitely ... We're two blond girls pitching a PonyApp. There have been a few occasions, especially in fundraising, where people are like, "This is a nice little thing." Or we had one occasion where a guy asked us if we were sure we wanted to set a target for the amount we wanted to raise for our first round of funding and questioned if that wasn't too high, if we weren't shooting a little too high and ... because we would have to deliver on that. And we were like, "Yeah, we know that. Thank you, but we got it. Yeah, we did math. We're engineers from Stanford, because we did some math."
Dana: For us, something that's been coming up a lot with clients and consumers is saying, "Oh, of course. This makes sense." Whether it's a body suit or a mid-rise pant, and oh, because it's actually designed by women. We know what it feels like to wanna be comfortable in our own skin and wearing flattering clothing and ... so that's been the example for us, too, of people have been very drawn to that. Of oh, we've now ... of meeting them and people meeting us, being like, "Oh, they get it." They understand how to dress us and dress ourselves, so that's been very cool to experience.
Dana: Even if there's gender-tension going on, on the business end, at least it's been great to see on the consumer end, and people who we're dressing really love it and they felt understood.
Lindsay: One of the best things about the start ups in this horse space is that we are all, as pony freaks, obsessed and religious about the horses and this sport and this lifestyle, and so many people do it when they're in high school and then maybe have to give it up in college, or after college, and you have to abandon ... a lot of people feel like they have to abandon this sport and the lifestyle to get a real job, you always call it. But we all here have real jobs, and it's really cool to be working on something that's doing well and talk to so many young girls who are just like, "Oh my gosh. I also am doing my third grade project on horses, but how can I continue that in high school and college?" Whether it's an internship or a job in the horse world, that there's ... it's such a big sport, there's so many people doing in it, there's enough money to run all these businesses.
Lindsay: It's just really cool when new companies come up and show these young girls and boys that you can continue working in the horse worlds, and not ... if you don't wanna be a rider, if you don't wanna be a trainer, there's other things you can do in this world.
Andrea: Yeah. And also, the great thing about this sport, too, is that you can take a break. I was on the riding team in college, and most of my friends stopped riding after college 'cause they moved to New York and couldn't keep it up, or moved somewhere else. And now, most of them are coming back to it almost 10 years later. I think that's the great thing about the sport, it's not like lacrosse or something ... another sport where it's over after college. You age out of it, you can't play it anymore unless you're gonna do a rec league that maybe isn't as serious, and you can always come back to it.
Andrea: People, I think later on even, if you don't get a horse job right out of college, you realize later on, "Oh wait. I could come back to this in some capacity." It's always there, which is ...
Andrea: Well, thanks again so much for joining us today. We love spending the day with you at the barn and learning more about your lives, with pony, as equestrians, and city women. So thanks again!