Lisa Fetterman is an inventor, CEO, wife and mom to son, Zechariah 1. With a background in fine dining service with stints at high-brow restaurants like Babbo and Jean-Georges, Lisa, and now-husband Abe, had a life-changing moment when they first tasted a sous-vide egg made with a roughly hacked sous vide system they had concocted. Sous vide, the technique of cooking food in vacuum-sealed bags in a temperature-controlled bath, often results in perfectly cooked proteins that magically maintain their moistness while being fully cooked. And the egg was no exception. After experiencing its creamy custardy yolks surrounded by delicately silky whites, Lisa and Abe decided right then and there that everyone should be able to make such an amazing dish at home if they wanted to.
And we all know what happens next, right? What a girl wants, she makes happen. So after taking some classes and overseas trips to manufacturers, the Nomiku was born.
Nomiku, an immersion circulator that allows home chefs to sous vide in their very own kitchens (yes, just like those fancy chefs on TV!), has taken on a life of its own. After launching a 2012 Kickstarter campaign for funding to manufacture the device, Nomiku quickly became the most successful Kickstarter campaign in the food category at the time. And while previous sous vide machines cost well over $1000, Nomiku retails for less than $300, allowing fine dining to be enjoyed and experimented on by the masses. And with a new Wi-Fi version about to be released, this little device that could just keeps on gaining steam. Pretty awesome, right?
So how exactly does a woman who wears so many hats make it all happen and launch their own company? Let's find out!
Starting your own company is huge and terrifying! So how do you make the leap from a secure paid job to starting your own business?
I've never held a secure paid job! I always worked as a freelance writer or on start-ups inside of larger companies. It was definitely an easy transition. My hardest day in my own business is better than my best day for a big company!
So we all want to know the nitty-gritty details, like how much money should someone have saved before starting their own business?
Well, I didn't save any money and went $20,000 into debt making my prototype. Based on my own experience, I say start from zero. Literally have nothing to lose.
And how long did it take for you to be profitable?
A year! One very intense year. But it's different for every business.
Was there a moment when you wanted to give up but pushed on through anyway?
I think it comes in waves where I'll feel depressed but I never want to give up. There's definitely burnout but I cherish this opportunity I have and have a deep hope for it that is boarderline religious.
At what point did you consider yourself successful?
I consider myself successful in that I actually try to live the sort of life I want. I believe I'm successful when I'm true to myself.
What was the best and worst advice you ever received?
Best advice: You know the most about your company. And you know, I can't even remember bad advice. My brain automatically rejects it as "advice" even.
Since you’ve been through it, what would you tell someone who's just starting out?
Don't wait for anything to start. Just press go. Get going today to the best of ability. It may not be your full-fledged vision but you need to start somewhere. So go write that blog post, take that class, build that prototype. Do it today.
How do you balance your work and home life?
Everything is work and everything is home life. There is no separation. Work is so much fun I just consider it a part of living my life. And Zech still sleeps with us in bed! We're not home during the day so it's really special for us to be able to snuggle during bedtime. I love cupping his little chubby face in my hands when he's sleeping.
It takes a village for any mom, but for a mom starting her own business, it must take a huge village. So who are your go-to people?
My mother-in-law lives with us and is a spectacular caretaker of Zech. We also have a great nanny named Rosa who comes 3 days a week. Abe changes every diaper! Talk about leaning in, he says "you take care of input, I take care of output" like a true scientist. I love my nerd!
What do you do to unwind and recharge? And related, what are you reading right now?
Wine is good, am I right? But my husband is always up for chillin' with our little guy so I can have some with my girlfriends. I just finished "Zero to One" and it was fantastic! Reading "Kitchen as a Laboratory," "UX for Lean Startups," "Ideas in Food," and "Art of Fermentation." I enjoy non-fiction pieces I can dip in and out of and can kind of choose-my-own-adventure. God knows I pick up books and put them down and then pick them up and have to put them down and then pick them up and then put them down!