Lauren Pufpaf, female entrepreneur and cofounder of Feed.fm, is making a positive impact on society by using music to improve lives. While Feed.fm amplifies customer engagement with music, the company also recently launched Fitness.fm and Health.fm. Both of these latest ventures are designed to improve people’s health through music. Health.fm will be breaking new music ground by helping people reduce anxiety, increase mindfulness, improve motor recovery, complete physical therapy exercises and even aid in taking one’s medication on time!
Lauren’s love of music started as a child listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40. A self-described vinyl junkie, she later became a DJ at a time when the field was dominated by men. I sat down with Lauren to learn more about her unique background and the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur who manages to juggle work, family and motherhood—all while creating a family-first environment for Feed.fm.
Caroline Castrillon: What was it like being a DJ at a time when it was mostly men in the field?
Lauren Pufpaf: At the time it was so novel for women to be in that field, I would get gigs because I was a woman! It was a double-edged sword though because every male DJ in town would crowd around the table to watch me—kind of waiting for me to mess up. Because of the scrutiny, it actually made me work that much harder.
Castrillon: What gets you through the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur?
Pufpaf: Finding the right partners and co-founders is key. Both of my co-founders are extremely supportive and also family-oriented. Find people that you trust if you’re going to go into something as challenging as entrepreneurship. It has also helped me to find a female mentor who has been in the trenches and can help me step back to gain perspective. Talking to other women who have been there done that really helps.
Castrillon: How are you able to drive deeper customer engagement for your clients?
Pufpaf: The metrics that matter are retention and ROI. For example, we’ve done A/B tests showing that if you are forced to choose your own music for a workout, about 20% of users will just quit. We offer seamless workout music integration and have found that fitness app members listening to integrated music spend four times more time in the app and are three times more likely to return the next quarter. It’s really about getting people to come back more often and when they do, spend more time in the app.
Castrillon: What’s the environment like at Feed.fm?
Pufpaf: The culture is high energy and very collegial. We’ve thought so much about the culture and have tried to choose our team very carefully. It’s fun, and we talk about music a lot! We’ve all been running at a really fast pace, so we try to have a sense of humor about it and support each other in the process. We’re a results-only work environment, so everyone is responsible for delivering—how and when they do that is up to them. It’s definitely not a face-time culture. There’s a lot of flexibility which I know the team appreciates.
Castrillon: How do you juggle motherhood and being an entrepreneur without skipping a beat (pun intended)?
Pufpaf: For one thing, I have an awesome nanny! My husband and I both work so there’s no way I could do this without her. She allows me to be fully present at work—I’m not worried about my daughter’s well-being which is huge. There’s also a lot of planning that goes on. Finding work partners that have families as well also helps. They provide support and appreciate the flexibility that’s necessary when you have kids.
Castrillon: What are some productivity hacks you can share that help you work smarter?
Pufpaf: Know when you are most productive and what works for you. I’m a morning person and am most creative at that time. Just understanding what works for you and scheduling around that really helps. I’m a big believer in blocking time. For example, we use Slack in the office to collaborate as a team. Sometimes, I’ll just block off an hour if I really need to focus on a project and turn Slack off to eliminate distractions.
Castrillon: What’s the one thing you do every day to be successful?
Pufpaf: For me, it really is exercise. Whether I’m running or doing a spin class, I feel better about myself, and it also clears my head in such a crucial way. When I miss it due to travel or other circumstances, I feel the difference in my mindset.
Castrillon: You’ve worked for companies as well as founded your own. What are the pros and cons of working for someone else versus being an entrepreneur?
Pufpaf: The advantage of being an entrepreneur is that you’re charting your own course and really have control over the decisions that you make which is very rewarding. We think about the culture we’re creating for our team, and the opportunity to build that from scratch is really fun. The autonomy and impact you have are things I value. On the con side, you have limited resources, which is especially difficult as a marketer. There also aren’t any clear answers, and there’s no one to turn to for those answers. The decisions and responsibility are ultimately yours—which can actually be a pro and a con.
Castrillon: What advice do you have for women who aspire to start their own businesses?
Pufpaf: Continuous learning is essential. Read as much as you can and keep educating yourself. Seek out successful entrepreneurs who will be willing to share their failures and what they’ve learned along the way. Trust your intuition. Be clear in your goals and what the end game is. You can’t expect anyone else to see your vision if you can’t.
The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity