Erin Newkirk

Erin Newkirk

CMO

Bright Health

“There is no such thing as failure, just a bad market fit. Failing can tell you a lot, so confront it and understand it. It can save you from throwing good money after bad, and it can eventually lead you to success if you dissect and learn from it.”

Erin is Chief Marketing Officer at Bright Health, a health insurance startup that recently secured $80 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Before this, she was CEO and founder of social commerce company, Red Stamp.

Years in industry? 10+

Who or what inspired your career in tech?
Tech is a tool that enables multi-dimensional experiences of brands, products an services. It’s a solver of problems, a crusher of barriers. I fell in love with tech because of the hope it represents. Of course, you have to apply creativity to make it move the world. That’s the fun part.

What’s been your best hack ever?
Amazon Prime. Being able to order everything from milk to office supplies to nearly-missed kid birthday party presents to Halloween candy in a day (or now less!) with a click of a button is amazing. I’m just getting into subscriptions, which means my dog gets his beloved pills in his special Greenies Pill Pockets without missing a day, I get my vitamins and veggie powder, we have detergent and paper towels– and we are all happier for it!

What has been your greatest career challenge and how have you handled it?
Leading my company through one failed and one successful acquisition. Wow, it’s tough. Playing nice, being tough. Poker face to the nines.

What is your biggest career success to date?
Jumping in, head first, into mobile. I’m so proud of our Red Stamp app– it’s award-winning, top 1% performing and loved by the press. I’m also proud of the small but mighty team we’ve built.

What advice would you give to other women starting a business?
1. There is no such thing as failure, just a bad market fit. “Failing” can tell you a lot, so confront it and understand it. It can save you from throwing good money after bad, and it can eventually lead you to success if you dissect and learn from it.
2. Be ready for people not “getting” your concept. Listen, take the good advice and leave behind the bad.
3. You have to be able to stand the highest of highs and lowest of lows. There is no middle ground. Sometimes it will want to make you leap for joy or throw up from stress.

If you could go back in time, what’s one tip you’d give your teenage self?
You are smart! So, don’t play dumb.

What do you do when you’re not kicking butt at work?
Kicking butt on the home front. 🙂

Flats, heels or kicks?
Flip flops.

Best career advice book? 
Linchpin by Seth Godin

Who are the women in tech that you most admire?
So many. Have to insert the “dearest friend” filter or the list would be #thelist. Top tops in no particular order: Joanne Wilson, Tara Hunt, Whitney Johnson, Kelly Hoey, Heather Cabot, Tereza Nemessanyi, Rachel Sklar.

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