Lauren Foundos | Founder, FORTË

"I focus on what I can do. Fear is a negative state of mind that you can control. You must be fearless, open to experiences, live, learn and grow from them."

How do you start your day? 

By reading or listening to the news, and getting myself excited to conquer the day.

Who inspires you? 

My family.

What would you tell yourself as a teenager? 

Listen to your parents, they will almost always be right.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? 

Action is the key to foundational success.

What do you need to get you through each day? 

A workout, even if it’s super short. Keeping that ritual is an integral part of keeping me grounded and focused.

What are you reading?

I have little time to read now because in my spare time I’m always working, but I love Peter Thiel’s book, Zero to One, and listening to Tim Ferris’ Podcasts.

Briefly describe your business and inspiration for it.

FORTË is a tech company (b2b) and a subscription based fitness streaming platform (b2c). We built hardware and software that can be installed in boutique fitness studios so that the studios can seamlessly stream live and on-demand classes directly to our elite platform. We are creating a Netflix-style hub of leading boutique fitness studio classes from around the world.

We are empowering the best brands in boutique fitness and elite coaches from around the world to reach far beyond the confines of their studio walls. They are creating incredible content daily, and we are enabling them to share that with the world. The boutique fitness sector makes up nearly 25% of the fitness industry’s revenue; and with their increasing popularity, it was evident that I needed to find a way to empower studios and make the boutique fitness experience more accessible to all.

How has your passion fueled your business?

My company fuels the core of my existence. Being active has always been a huge part of my life and instrumental in helping me to stay focused and grounded. I aspire to make others feel the same. My earliest memories are all about playing sports and being active. I would have spent every minute outside if my parents would have allowed me to, but fortunately they strongly advised me to focus on school for which I am thankful today. I wanted to be a professional hockey player and practiced enough to become a two-time all-American field hockey player. I went on to play Division One at the University of Maryland for the nation’s top ranked program. Your body is a machine; and if you train it, you will become stronger and continue to improve. I aspire to make everyone love working out as much as I do.

What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I didn’t wake up one day and say “I want to start a company.” I saw a need and demand in the boutique fitness industry, and so I started to think about how I could fill that void. I began asking people if they would be interested in working with or using a service like the one I had in mind; and before I knew it, people were ready to get on board. They wanted to know when the platform was going to be created. At that point I realized the journey had already began.

What was the tipping point for realizing you had a good business?

After launching my company and building the technology that we did, we very quickly and successfully scaled on the B2B side. Realizing that we had the ability to successfully scale on the B2C side that was most exciting. The flood of letters we began to receive from users about how much we were positively impacting their lives was thrilling. These letters continue to fuel me today.

What has been the key to your success?

Never, ever doubt yourself. Confidence, hard work, and a positive attitude will always yield great results.

What lessons have you learned along the way that you wish you would have known at the beginning of your start-up career?

I definitely learned that it is difficult for me to manage people. I’ve always been in charge of my results, and now I have a team that I need to rely on and have faith in. Whether I was succeeding or not at my corporate job in the banking industry was very cut and dry and evident by my profits and losses. I don’t have that control anymore, and its not only unto me to be successful. Success is determined by every member of my team.

What challenges did you face in the early days of being the Founder of your own business?

Founding a technology company without being an engineer was certainly challenging. In order to bring my vision to fruition, I needed to build a talented team. Finding the best engineers who shared my work ethic and were the best at what they do was a difficult process, especially when you don’t know where to start. I continued to look for talent until I found my partners. Once I found them, I knew they were the right people to be part of my team.

What is the biggest mistake you have made in your business to date and how have you moved past it?

I make mistakes every day because I’m doing many things for the first time. If I make a decision that turns out to have an outcome that I did not expect, I just try something new. I don’t spend time lamenting about why I made the decision or feeling frustrated — there’s no time for any of that!

What is the biggest challenge you have had in your business to date and how did you pull through it?

I focus on finding a solution and moving forward. Every day I am faced with challenges and tasks that I don’t know how to do. I don’t waste any time harping on the fact that it’s challenging; I devote all of my time to learning how to get it done, and doing it.

When self-doubt hits, what do you do?

If I am having a difficult day, I usually workout and escape for an hour, which always brings me back to an even stronger place. Feeding into self-doubt can be a vicious cycle; you have to trust yourself.

What aspects of being a start-up entrepreneur do you love and/or dislike?

The best part about building Forte is that we are making people’s lives better, making them stronger, healthier, and ultimately happier. The worst part is that there aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve the things I want to do. It’s hard to remove myself from working on my company.

Which books, articles, blogs have helped to shape your business and/or leadership style?

I read a ton of books when I first decided to build my company. I read books about all the great Founders of our time. I studied their very different personalities, management styles and formulated my own over time. I read about Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Peter Thiel, Steve Jobs and others.

Are there any go-to resources that you have found useful to run your business (service, web site, etc.)?

Surround yourself with great, like-minded individuals. I found these people in a women’s only group called Dreamers & Doers, which I highly recommend. Don’t do this alone; being an entrepreneur can be tough, and there are people that understand exactly the types of challenges you are facing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and utilize the community’s great resources.

What has been your best strategy for selling your product or service and what have you learned along the way?

The best strategy for selling my service is to truly be authentic, genuine and passionate. I am learning that people appreciate that I practice what I preach; my company is also my way of life.

How did your experiences in the corporate world prepare you for entrepreneurship, or not?

Working on Wall Street taught me to be strong in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment. It also taught me the importance of having thick skin. As an entrepreneur, you need to let rejection and difficult days roll off you and keep working towards your goal.

What do you think the most important attribute a female entrepreneur/ business owner can possess?

Confidence. You must be confident and believe in yourself or you can’t expect others to. It starts with you.

What would you say to another woman who asked you if they should take the leap and start their own business?

Make sure you are passionate about the company that you want to build because it will consume most of your time. Life is too short to do things that don’t make you happy. Then, just get started! Trust your instincts; stay true to yourself. Always believe in yourself because if you don’t, others won’t either. It all starts with you, and never forget that you are capable of anything you set your mind to.