Heidi’s New Venture: SkinnySongs

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

6 Responses to Heidi’s New Venture: SkinnySongs

  1. Ryan says:

    Ben I usually love your insight, but I just have to lol at the thought of getting any of the females in my life a product to help them lose weight. Although I know some of them would very much enjoy the product (if it’s as good as you say it is), I doubt they would recieve it kindly. No woman wants a gift to help them lose weight because that very gift would imply that you think they are fat.

  2. Ben Casnocha says:

    Ryan, I think the idea is you give it as a gift to someone who’s “out” about their desire to lose weight and stay fit, not as a “hint hint” kind of gift.

  3. Shefaly says:

    Ben:

    I have to agree with Ryan on this one.

    “… as a gift to someone who’s “out” about their desire to lose weight and stay fit, not as a “hint hint” kind of gift.”

    Most women, at one time or another, loudly express the desire to be thinner, but that does not mean that they will not be offended by such a gift. That loud expression of dissatisfaction is an outcome of the complex interactions with society, media messages and ensuing body dysmorphia that many women experience, some more acutely than others.

    Fat is a sensitive issue; if one calls herself fat it is ok, but others really must steer clear of that minefield.

  4. Heather Duey says:

    It may not be a great gift (especially coming from a man), but surely women will buy it for themselves! As a not-so-young and not-quite-as-skinny-as-I-once-was mommy, it’s definitely something I would be interested in checking out to add some variety to my workout tunes.

  5. mKathh says:

    I was introduced to you via Brad Feld’s blog and have been receiving your blog for about 6 months. I enjoy it and want to thank you for spotlighting folks like Heidi (and the many others I read about).

    I thought the Forbes article was fabulous. I’m somewhat shocked that folks don’t ‘get’ what Heidi is doing and I think it speaks to how this segment of mostly women, in the quest to lose weight is being overlooked. Hence her opportunity to be embraced by this market who I believe will appreciate the effort she is making to customize a producteventual series of products designed to inspire, both long and short term. It’s the same reason obese women love Richard Simmons. They connect with his personal message that seems specific to them.

    I understand that there’s a huge fitness/weight loss market, but what I’m talking about is this segment of (mostly) women being complimented by the fact that someone has recognized that they deserve a ‘custom’ product that was created to instill a positive and inspiring end result.

    Last, it’s a labor of love for Heidi. In that respect, there is no failure. While I realize we’re all about capital success, how do you put a dollar figure on changing lives? The proof will be in the marketing. Keep us updated, Ben.

  6. Kathleen H says:

    This is a fantastic idea- it takes forever for me to put together my own playlists for working out, and I know many of my girlfriends have the same problem.

    That said, if a guy gave it to me as a gift, I’d kick his ass. I suspect it’s more a gift you give yourself or to your girlfriends who, as Ben put it, are “out” about their desire to lose weight.

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