Bella Acton

Bella is an entrepreneur from down under who got truly inspired by a company across the pond and saw the silver lining in a breakup which took place 5 days before Christmas. Growing up in Melbourne, Australia her at home culture was British considering her parents origins. So much that she even rooted for the British cricket team, which apparently is highly taboo. A middle child in a family with two sisters and very supportive parents, she describes her upbringing as very fortunate and creative. Her family traveled to England often, at least once a year for the holidays. It's worth mentioning that when we spoke it was in two parts, the first half she was in England and the second she was in Spain. Though she currently calls Los Angeles home. Quite the traveler. She explained to me that neither of her parents were entrepreneurs, but both of them were in full support of her pursuing her startup full time, even before she was. Most people that I speak with, their parents are the last person that they convince that being an entrepreneur is the best route for them. Most parents want the simple, secure life for their children, they want them to get a "good job". 

"I can't imagine what it would be like and I think I underestimate the value that helped to bring."

Growing up in a creative environment, she was always the first to ask "why?". Always looking for a way to do things better, or just simply different. "There's always some other side that no one considers." In college she studied media and communications, in order to get into the program she had to have at least a 99.3% GPA, so pretty much straight A's.  After college she started her career in marketing and advertising, fortunately she was able to work with some industry gurus from the beginning. She was more of a disciple than an employee and regards these jobs as essential moments in her career.

While at her first job, still in Sydney she was required to read a book by her employer: Eating The Big Fish. Essentially the book is about: how do you compete with brand leaders in their own game? Well, you don't. You rewrite the rules. This book was and still is important to Bella, it helped shape her approach to helping clients build brands. After 2 years and a realization that she could predict how the rest of her life would play out, Bella decided to move to London to pursue another chapter in life. While looking for a job she realized that the company responsible for one of her favorite books, was located in London. She reached out, requested a meeting and landed a job. 

While working with Eat Big Fish, she had the opportunity to fly to New York City frequently to conduct business on the company's behalf. During one trip that lasted 3 months, she realized that NYC was the place for her. It was the young, appreciation for creativity, entrepreneurial spirit that she fell in love with. When she returned to London she made a case for the company to move her out to New York permanently. At first they didn't think she was old enough to run her own office and operation, she was 25. After one year she was able to prove herself and moved to the Big Apple. After a year and a half in New York, she made a transition to a new company in innovation consulting, ?Whatif! Innovation. While working at ?Whatif!, Bella came up with the idea for a website called: Never Liked It Anyway. A marketplace for items one wants to get rid of after a break up. You can find anything from engagement rings to dining room sets, all at a discounted or break up price. The dating space is worth Billions, the breakup space was non existent...until Bella. 

When Bella first started this site she attempted to raise some to capital but was quickly laughed out of the boardroom. She was told the project was cute and she should be proud. Determined to win, Bella found some guys to build her site for her for a price she could afford and five days after she launched the site it was written about by Mashable. A great achievement, but was just the first drop of an incredible storm of press. Soon after she was doing radio interviews, and being written by the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post. Awesome. 

For most startups a vital goal is to capture the eye of public, afterwards the goal is maintain the eye of the public. After about six months, the online traffic had taken a nose dive and it put Bella at a fork in the road. Now that she knew the amount of time required to be successful, she had to decide to either continue to work on the business full time and quit her job or to let it go.

What did Bella do? She quit her job and went full time. Not only was she now working on her site again, but she was in talks with some studios in Hollywood to turn the concept into a reality TV show; which is what brought her to Los Angeles. In addition, she also started on a new product that's quite the innovation of the breakup space which she created, called the Bounce Back Box. The BBB is a box full of items from different brands, for ladies to bounce back from a break up. Everything from Lyft gift cards for a night out on the town to new makeup and yes, a vibrator. A great collection of items to help take your mind off a recent relationship loss. 

I am always curious how people who don't come from a tech industry background deal with the day to day struggles of being a tech entrepreneur. Bella's approach to it is simple. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Focus on what you are good at and find good, trustworthy people to do what you are not good at. "I had to realize that this is a tech startup, but not a tech startup for the tech world, but a tech startup for the entertainment world. I have extreme confidence in my ability to build brands, to tell stories and to market those stories." She outsourced what she wasn't good at and stuck to her specialty, "and as a result we are close to closing a reality TV, sitcom and a book deal, which I am super jazzed about." Most things that you will learn while being an entrepreneur will be self taught and as Bella explains, "No one prepares you for that."

"It's a funny lesson and I think that's like a huge thing of being a CEO overall; managing your own energy. Because there are ups and there are massive downs and I definitely wasn't prepared for it." 

Bella's company the Bounce Back Box was requested to sponsor the Miami Swim Week as an item to gift to the models. Of all the gifts that the models received at the end of the show, the BBB was by far their favorite. She sent 300 boxes, which was thus far the largest order that she had to fulfill. What are Bella's future plans? Continuing the growth of her market place, distribution of Bounce Back Boxes, see her two shows air on TV, write a book and launch the Bounce Back Stack. A deck of cards made to motivate you to do activities that will also help you get over your ex. She owns this breakup space. If the dating space is a $2 Billion space, assuming most people don't get married on to their first significant other, there's no reason the break up space can't also be a $2 Billion space. If not more.

What is some advice that you would give to entrepreneurs that are just getting started?

"My number one piece of advice is to just make a start. No matter how small, even if you think it's a crazy idea. You got to start by telling people about it. There's a lot of people that say, 'oh I have an idea but I can't tell you about it.' It's actually really difficult to make ideas happen, so the first step is to just start telling as many people as you can. Once you do that, you make the idea, real. In a weird way. Suddenly it has a life of it's own and people know about it and people will ask you about it when they see you. So it starts to have a little bit of weight. Besides that, people will start to give you great feedback that you never thought you would have on your own idea. Which is completely invaluable. That's a way of looking at things at different angles and opportunities, in order to strengthen your idea in ways that you didn't even think possible. Another piece of advice is to start spending money. Because it's all very well and good to talk about things, but the minute you put some capital down, you're committed to it in a way that you're not beyond this sort of, "I have an idea, wouldn't it be funny if?'. So those are probably my biggest ones. Just tell as many people as you possibly can. Get it going, don't worry about getting it perfect. Things will evolve and change as you go, it's all about just getting a start...and spend money. Which is probably quite counter intuitive to entrepreneurship, but it's symbolic!"
Chadwick Daniel