Nicky Jackson is the Founder & CEO of RangeMe. The concept of RangeMe came to Nicky while developing a range of baby skincare products. Looking for ways to achieve fast distribution, she had the idea to create a single network to match sellers with buyers looking for products like theirs. Before launching RangeMe Nicky worked as a Marketing Executive at Kellogg’s, Uncle Toby’s, Goodman Fielder, Pepsico and Jim Beam.
A keeper of an entrepreneurial spirit, Nicky is also a leading voice for women in business and technology. The accelerated growth of RangeMe with her at the helm has catapulted Nicky as a true pioneer in the CPG Technology space. Nicky currently resides in San Francisco with her beautiful family of four.
In this interview, Nicky shares her early frustration in the retail market which led her to start a business. She also shares how moving from Australia to US was her greatest decision, a big leap of faith to expand RetailMe.
Her advice to entrepreneurs starting a business in California:
One of the best decisions I've ever made was to base our business in San Francisco - the technology capital of the world. Whether you’re looking for A+ talent to join your team, knowledgeable top VCs or just the energy of innovation, there’s no better place. One caution: it’s not cheap. Expect to pay and pay well to live and build a business here.
What motivated you to start RangeMe? Did you see a way to serve customers better than your competitors?
About 3 and a half years ago, my infant daughter had terrible eczema. I tried creams, ointments, basically anything and everything a mother could buy - nothing worked. I actually ended up working with a local dermatologist to develop a cream that worked specifically for my daughter’s type of skin and ailment. And it worked miracles! My first thought was I needed to get this into the hands of mothers dealing with the same helpless situation.
I realized quickly that even despite my connections in CPG, I had worked for major players like Kellogg and Pepsico, that there were no doors open to me and my product, no channels for distribution and the pain of getting a product to market was real. That’s when the idea of RangeMe came to me as an answer to the antiquated ways products were being discovered.
Most businesses evolve over time. Is there a way that you slowly evolved the mission of RangeMe to serve your customers better?
RangeMe has absolutely evolved into the award-winning platform it is today. Originally, we launched as a way to simply connect retailers and suppliers. Since then, we’ve worked with retailers to further solve associated pain points within the realm of product discovery like managing inbound inquiries.
Additionally, as we continue to work with suppliers, we're delving deeper into not only helping them get discovered, but further guiding them through the journey of getting a product to market.
What do you consider the biggest milestone that you have hit with your business? What was the biggest thing you did to get there?
Wow, there have been quite a few that stick out in my mind. But in terms of impact, I would say the biggest milestone was definitely when we expanded into the US from Australia. This major decision for RangeMe paved the way for more recent milestones like raising capital from leading US VCs, the building of our amazing team and launching with some of the largest retailers in the world like Whole Foods Market and Target.
For me, moving to the US was probably the most difficult decision of my life. This really meant taking my family across the world to follow my dreams. The crazy thing is, when I look back at it, I don’t see any other way it could've gone.
In your experience, what is the best way to find your ideal customer? Are there any mistakes that our readers can learn from?
One of the things that drew me to the tech industry was the ability to scale and grow quickly. Finding your ideal customer takes patience, but that doesn’t mean it has to take too much time.
Initially, you should have an idea about the market you’re looking to serve and, if you build a great product, ideally your customers will come to you. Aside from that, my advice is not to be afraid to fail...but if you do fail, fail fast, learn and iterate.
As a business owner, what is your greatest fear and how do you keep it under control or harness it?
As my previous response alluded to, failure is probably everyone's biggest fear. The lesson here is to not let the fear of failure stop you from trying and putting yourself out there. Many people have ideas of the business they want to launch, but then there’s that giant step of turning your amazing idea into reality...and that takes self-belief and confidence. In business as in life, you will fail more times than you succeed, but it’s how you respond that’s most important.
A quick story: Recently, I was on top of a ridiculously steep ski mountain in Lake Tahoe and I was petrified of going down. Mind you that I hadn’t been skiing in 8 years! The friend who was with me said something that I feel really brings things into perspective: “C’mon Nicky! You run a startup! This should be a piece of cake!”
Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape RangeMe?
About 3 years ago, I was connected to the co-founders of Yes to Carrots Inc. (The 2nd largest beauty brand in the USA) via a mutual friend after I posted a business article about RangeMe on Facebook. Both Ido Leffler and Lance Kalish have been hugely influential in our journey, they continue to believe in RangeMe and have always encouraged me to think big.
They were extremely instrumental in our US expansion and I don’t think we could have done it without them. Ido currently is our non-executive chairman and also resides in San Francisco. Both continue to have a marked impact on our success!
What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as a business owner? Do you have any advice for how future entrepreneurs can overcome it?
Focus. At multiple points in your journey, you will come to realizations that you just can't do everything all at once. Smart people have great ideas, but what can be the difference between success and failure is how you focus. Focusing your resources, focusing your energy and focusing on what you can do now that will deliver the most impact.
This is never an easy decision, and it shouldn’t be, but often you have to step back to reassess - especially with a startup that is moving fast and things are constantly changing.
How does being an entrepreneur affect your relationships with your friends and family?
What a great question! The roller-coaster of being an entrepreneur and a mother is pretty difficult to understand for people who aren’t actually IN IT. That being said, I'm extremely blessed to be surrounded by amazing family and friends. There is no doubt that I would not be where I am today without them.
What are your visions for your business? Where do you see it in the next 5 years?
I see RangeMe as THE place where suppliers and retailers connect and do business. But, what’s really exciting is that RangeMe will eventually become the B2B hub for the Retail and CPG industries. We aren’t just a part of the Retail Revolution, we are helping to lead it!
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business in California? Where should they start?
California is a big place. One of the best decisions I've ever made was to base our business in San Francisco - the technology capital of the world. Whether you’re looking for A+ talent to join your team, knowledgeable top VCs or just the energy of innovation, there’s no better place. I sound like a commercial for the City!
One caution: it’s not cheap. Expect to pay and pay well to live and build a business here.