Noa Dvoskin is the co-founder of VillageHunt, which offers product ratings and reviews within closed communities, helping you discover great products and avoid bad purchases. Check out VillageHunt on Facebook.
1. Tell me about your background and what brought you to the tech industry.
I come from a background of hardware design. My bachelor's degree was in ceramics and glass design and my master's degree was in industrial design. By making things and watching people use them, I discovered I'm mostly interested in human behavior in relation to the products I create.
As I was graduating in 2005, I was fortunate to be picked by one of my professors to join his tech startup. That is how I became a User Experience designer, which at that time was a relatively new profession, one that could not yet be learned as a degree.
Later on, I built products for companies like Microsoft, Expedia, and T-Mobile. Being able to work on products that reach hundreds of millions of users was amazing and taught me a lot.
2. What inspired you to create VillageHunt?
Fast forward a few years, I became a mother, which of course presented new challenges! Among many other things mothers need to deal with, I found myself researching tons of baby products I knew nothing about, talking to and getting advice from friends about what I should get.
One of those friends was Sam Hamaoui, an old time high school friend. Together we thought how wonderful it could be if any mom (or dad) in our parent-friends circle could just see who within the group has experience with a product she is considering, and instead of reading and researching many different options, easily get the information she needs from someone she trusts.
3. What challenges did you face when you started?
Parents around us loved the idea and were happy to share their experiences and help (because this is what moms do!). However, building a real product that will simplify online shopping was a different story. We used our coding and design skills to build an MVP, which helped us overcome very big challenges, such as how to bring people to a new site that has no content, and how to bring people to share their experience so we can build this content? But maybe the most difficult part was the personal sacrifice, to leave a good job at a large company with a nice salary, and become a founder facing the unknown with no salary and two little children.
4. How did you overcome these challenges?
We started small, built many simple HTML prototypes and tested them again and again with users until my passion and confidence in the product overcame my fear. The second thing that helped me decide to do it was the opportunity to work with Sam Hamaoui, my co-founder. On top of us being good friends, we also worked together in the past. He has experience managing business and big teams, which I don’t have, and he is definitely the best product and vision person I’ve ever worked with.
There are a lot of exciting things about building a startup, but also a lot of very hard challenges. Doing something I'm passionate about and have a strong belief in keeps me going through the hard times!
5. How do you as a mom, make time for all the different priorities in your life between family and work?
I have two small girls and one baby who likes his quality time with me very much, so I’m quite a busy mom :) But I believe being a mom, in a way, can make you a better entrepreneur.
My time boundaries are very defined, it forces me to prioritize and stay focused, which is something entrepreneurs often find hard to do. During the day at work, I try to be as efficient as possible, evening times are totally dedicated to family and late at night, the computer gets opened again. Another thing, I hear a lot of entrepreneurs who work around the clock say they need to force themselves to take a break in order to reflect and look at things from a perspective. For me, those breaks are naturally given. And on top of it all, my strong thrive (super important for entrepreneurs) to simplify online shopping and save time for people is because I need something like this myself!