A year ago I went for a walk with Heidi Roizen around her house in Atherton. I was gearing up to head out to Colorado to hang with her Mobius partners, and she was pondering her next career move. She had various new business ideas, all fairly eccentric. A few months later I was back at her house because she was helping me with some stuff involving my book. When I asked her if she’d pursued any of her ideas — or joined another venture capital firm or done something else — she said she hadn’t, but wanted to update me on her ideas over a workout. So we went down to her exercise room. I’ll never forget the image: she, in workout clothes; me, in nice clothes (by my casual standards) sweating through it all trying to keep up both my heart rate and the conversation.
Fast forward to December, 2007 and I now see why we were chatting while working out: Heidi has taken action on her idea and launched a new company called SkinnySongs which will produce great pump-up music for women who want to lose weight. Heidi has partnered with some of the leading figures in the music industry to create professional, good natured music to listen to while exercising. Check out this fantastic Forbes profile on Heidi and SkinnySongs. This could be a great Christmas gift for a woman friend who’s trying to lose weight. Available on Amazon.com (ignore the “only 1 left” message). It’ll be on iTunes by Dec 15.
I’ve learned a lot from Heidi over the past few years and respect her a great deal, which is why I asked her to contribute a “Brain Trust” essay to My Start-Up Life (it’s on page 11 for those following along at home). Succeed or fail financially, Heidi’s new venture is a wonderful example to entrepreneurs of someone who’s pursuing a genuine passion (music and exercise). You can feel the passion on the web site and in the songs. As the Forbes piece shows, it’s also a good example of an entrepreneur scratching her own itch to understand a market and problem — the bet is that others have the same itch and are willing to pay for it.
Congrats and good luck, Heidi!
I love pump-up music. Here’s a list of the 10 Most Terrifyingly Inspirational 80’s Songs. I agree with their picks. Excerpt:
Nearly everything is unbelievably dangerous while listening to “Eye of the Tiger.” Here’s a little exercise that illustrates perfectly what this song is capable of. Think of the weakest, most pedestrian chore you can do, for example, doing laundry. Now play “Eye of the Tiger” in the background. If, by the end of that spin cycle you haven’t managed to somehow kill a grizzly bear with fabric sheets or make sweet love to every woman within 40 yards, then you need to see a coroner because you apparently died the night before.
Harvard Business School did a case study about Heidi awhile back. Some Berkeley researchers recently presented the case study to students but changed “Heidi” to “Howard” to see how a gender difference would change one’s perceptions of her assertive style. Slate has a brief write-up halfway down the article.
I worked with Heidi on the Heroes project of the National Center for Women and Information Technology. We sought out some of the most interesting and successful women doing work in IT. Lucy Sanders and Larry Nelson interviewed them as podcasts. Check them out here — loads of inspiration for any woman (or man) looking to have an impact in the field of computing.