Meet The PE Class Of 2018: Tracy Bitterolf, Co-Founder and CEO of Bundl
The 2018 PE Intensive, taking place April 13 & 14, brings together the the top 200 female founders from the PE Venture Competition for hands-on workshops and mentorship in New York City. Among the 200 are 10 finalists who have been given the additional opportunity to participate in the pitch competition on Saturday, April 14 for a chance to receive a $10,000 grant and a spot in a five-week accelerator program hosted at Rent the Runway’s headquarters.
In the week leading up to #PEIntensive18, we’re featuring the 10 pre-selected finalists (two additional wildcard companies to be chosen during the Intensive will also present at the live pitch competition) and introducing them and their companies to our PE Community. Visit our 2018 PE Intensive website to meet the entire #PEClassOf2018, join our mailing list for Intensive updates, and follow Intensive highlights and behind-the-scenes with hashtag #PEIntensive18.
Tracy Bitterolf is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bundl, a long-term rental service for premium baby items. Tracy is also an award-winning producer and comedy writer, and we had fun hearing how Tracy came up with the idea for Bundle, learning how she stays motivated while working full-time as a producer and writer and raising her young son, and learning what she’s most looking forward to at #PEIntensive18.
Photo courtesy Tracy Bitterolf
What inspired you to start your business?
When I was pregnant with my son two years ago, I basically had a nervous breakdown while trying to register for baby items in Babies R Us (RIP). I remember standing in the middle of the stroller aisle, paralyzed by way too many choices and a complete sense of overwhelm. A mom friend was with me and trying to explain all I needed to know in order to plan for the next few years of my life (and my baby’s life.) She told me I would need one infant carseat that goes with an infant stroller. Then, when my son grew out of the infant car seat in a few months, he would graduate to a convertible car seat and I would need a different stroller to go along with that one. Not to mention a stroller for my husband’s car, one for each of the grandparents, and probably a back up one in case we had a nanny. I gawked at this idea, picturing myself being swallowed up by a mountain of adorable baby gear. It was in that moment that I thought to myself, “There has got to be a better way!” I didn’t come up with the idea for Bundl until about a year later, but this experience planted the seed.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Finding the time to keep pushing forward has been extremely challenging because as of right now, Bundl is still my side-hustle. I work full-time as a producer and writer for a YouTube company, and I’m mom to a two-year-old, so I feel like my life is a constant juggling act. I know many working moms feel guilty that they’re not doing enough, and I have certainly experienced my fair share of mom guilt, especially since I constantly feel that neither of my babies is ever getting 100 percent of me. But I tell myself that as long as I do something every day to keep moving the business forward, then I’m right where I should be.
What’s been the greatest reward?
I really enjoy creating from scratch. I’ve been a storyteller and writer for most of my career, and one of my favorite parts is creating a world from nothing. I find that building a business is really similar. I like putting things together piece by piece, experimenting, putting something out into the world and sharing it with others. The process alone is so rewarding. In the wise words of the great Miley Cyrus, “It’s the climb.”
I also really enjoy getting to do this with my co-founder, Mike Tinio. I learn something new from him everyday. He is phenomenally talented, and I love that he comes at problems from a different angle than I do. Even though we are fairly early on in this whole process, it’s amazing to look back and see how far we’ve come.
What changes would you most like to see in your industry, and how are you working to make those changes happen?
I’d love to cut down on the amount of waste the baby gear industry produces: waste in money and waste as in the products themselves. There are so many items that babies only use for a few times, and then parents resell them for a huge loss in value, or they end up on the side of the road, taking up space in a landfill. My company works to significantly cut down on this wastefulness by expanding the life cycle of baby products, by encouraging parents to rent instead of buy brand-new, and by cleaning and restoring products instead of immediately replacing them.
Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
When I have a bad day, I think about one of my favorite quotes from Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Okay actually I read it in that self-help book “You Are A Badass.” Yes I read that book and I’m a fan!) I think the costs of going for it are many. You make yourself vulnerable, you put yourself out there, you fall down and fail, but all of that is so much less scary than getting to the end of your life and never taking a risk. Reminding myself of this always helps to lift my spirits.
And if I really need an extra pick me up, a good belt-your-heart-out song in the car with the windows rolled up always does the trick. I’ve been known to act out the entire Hamilton soundtrack on my commute home on especially stressful days.
What about #PEIntensive18 are you looking forward to most?
The community of other incredible women that I’m about to meet. I love being surrounded by creators, by doers, by go-getters. I was lucky enough to attend the 2016 PE Summit in Los Angeles, and I met some incredible women that day, many of whom are still in touch. Seeing them in action is what gave me the courage to let myself dream a little bigger, to finally call myself an entrepreneur and really go for it. I don’t think there’s anything better than a bunch of women in a room that know how to get sh*t done. Can I cuss in this?