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October 29, 2010 / TechFemme

Melissa Miranda is Living My Tech Startup and Travel Dream

Melissa Miranda, Co-Founder, listcharming

TechFemme isn’t the first time I’ve dipped my toes into the blogosphere.  I also have a travel blog, Passport To Everywhere, and a now-defunct blog that started when I began my very first business.   I love technology.  I love to travel.  I love entrepreneurship.  Melissa Miranda, Co-Founder of ListCharming, a Get-Whatever-You-Want online bridal registry that is seemingly the answer to every bride’s prayers, loves these things too.   The difference between Melissa and me is that she has somehow cracked the code  to being able to live the best of (in my opinion) all worlds.  I drooled with envy as she described that much of ListCharming was built from a laptop in the cafes of Paris, Stockholm, Cairo, Tel Aviv.  Her and her husband (ListCharming’s other Co-Founder) are temporarily in California but headed to Japan very soon to continue their travels, with other Asian stops on their list of probable destinations.

I’m glad I was able to catch her before she heads off on her next trip and hoped that during our conversation, I’d be able to pick up just how she does it all.

TechFemme:  Let’s start from the beginning.  How did you get started in technology?

Melissa Miranda: I wasn’t really interested in Computer Science as a  major.  I got a BA in Economics from Dartmouth and for 5 years, had nothing to do with tech.  I loved design, though, and really wanted to do product design.  While I was in grad school at Stanford, I interned at IDEO.

TF:  Wow.  I imagine that’s a designer’s dream internship!

MM: Yeah, it was amazing.  It was all about design, though, and somewhat frustrating to not actually be building the products we designed.  We had all these great ideas but didn’t see them through to building them. And then at Stanford, I was surrounded by technology and I wanted to do a startup too, even though I didn’t really know anything about technology.

TF:  So how did you get into it?

MM: I went to work for Mubi in product design.  They needed someone to draw pages in (Adobe) Illustrator.

Then when I got engaged and didn’t love what was out there in terms of registries.  So I used Illustrator and drew what I wanted the website to look like.   We built listcharming for our own wedding.

TF: That’s a major component to a lot of startups – building a product to solve a problem that you personally have.  But how did you do build a website without any experience?

MM:  While I was in Australia, I read an HTML and CSS book cover to cover, basically.  And then Google’s your best friend for anything you need to know too.  And  whenever I ran into trouble, I asked someone.

TF: So you designed listcharming yourself?

MM: Yes.  The entire site.  But the branding was done by a friend in NYC.  She did a really good logo and color scheme that works well for us.

TF: What kind of marketing are you doing?

MM: We haven’t really done much marketing yet and we have weddings signing up, even international ones.  We may do some Facebook ads.

TF:  How is ListCharming different from your competitors?

MM: Our site really is the easiest to use.  And we have the lowest pricing.

TF:  You’ve taken an indirect path to your tech startup. Do you have any advice for women who are thinking to make a similar kind of switch?

MM: It’s not so hard if you put the time in.  And as you begin thinking about your product, start a blog.  Write about it, develop your idea, share it with everybody.  If you stick with the idea over time, you can develop it and do it.

Melissa did just that.  And she really believes anyone else can too.  Once thing that’s immediately apparent about Melissa is that she’s very engaged – in the truest sense of the word.  We spoke almost as much about me as we did about her.  She’s supportive about this blog’s mission to create awareness of the amazing things women in tech are doing.  She asked me about my startup and gave me some much-appreciated tips and advice.  And most impressively, she has been in touch since we spoke earlier this week, sharing links and info she thinks will be interesting and useful to me.   I can’t wait to follow ListCharming, her newest startup and anything else she develops in the future.  And it goes without saying that I’m also interested in following (and by following, I mean envying) her travels as well.

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