How often do you hear of a successful entrepreneurship story out of Oklahoma? Well, meet Robin Smith.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of circumstances?
Robin Smith: I was born in Oklahoma. I was raised, primarily, on a farm. There were about 12 kids in my class. I didn’t know much about the outside world other than what was there in town. I started my entrepreneurial journey in the second grade making yarn belts on the playground. I was able to talk a few of my friends into making them with me. We had quite the distributorship going with yarn belts until the Principal shut us down. When he asked us to stop making yarn belts, I started making Christmas tree ornaments to sell. He shut that down too.
Sramana Mitra: Why were they shutting these things down? What was wrong with that?
Robin Smith: It was probably just because you were trying to sell things in school that the school wasn’t making any money on. I’m not really quite sure. Whatever it was, they didn’t really appreciate that, which is fine. It was fun for me. I saw that I could employ a few of my friends to double my production pretty easily. I learned that from a really early age. I think growing up on the farm helped me innovate and figure things out. My dad always said that if someone told me no, I would just figure out a way to get around what needed to be done. I think I was born with that desire to do things on my own and have my own company.
At college, I was working for the Washington Post, doing sales. I did really well. I had broken a few records because I didn’t know any better. I was excited and ready to get out in the world. I was in advertising sales for quite a while. My husband at that time passed away in a car accident. I had two boys. I thought to myself, “I really need to be at home as much as possible.” I started my own consulting firm, and that led me to working with a lot of auto dealership, setting up their business development centers, which incorporated their Internet departments and training all of their Internet sales people on how to use the Internet. I fell in love with the Internet at that time. I saw how it was the gateway to the entire world. I was fascinated by it. I thought that it was a very efficient and cost-effective way to reach the masses and be able to target. I fell in love with it.
In late 2009, one of our friends was looking at a high-end projector on eBay. He said, “I wish I had someone to go look at it for me.” He wasn’t sure if the seller was misrepresenting the item. I said, “There’s got to be a company that does that because there’s so many people conducting business online.” I did a little research and couldn’t find anyone. I thought that it was a great opportunity to create a platform. That’s what I did with WeGoLook.