Leisa: Hello, I’m Leisa Holland Nelson and welcome to a special edition of Women Mean Business, where we’re going to take you up close and personal with an extraordinary woman doing extraordinary things. I’m excited to welcome back Sarah Groen to Women Mean Business. You’re actually my first guest I’ve had return after an incredible transition to your new business.
Sarah: What an honor Leisa, that’s so nice.
Leisa: Well I’m excited to be able to do this. Sarah, when I met you, you were the Co-founder and Director for SURGE which was an accelerator for startups. And you were pretty much accelerating yourself and very young, so it’s so exciting to welcome you back as the General Manager here in Houston of UberEATS. I feel like I don’t even need to have you describe what that is, but tell us about UberEATS.
Sarah: Yeah, sure. So UberEATS is a new service from Uber; we’re trying to make it as easy to get food from some of the best places in Houston as it is to get an Uber.
Leisa: And when you say best places, do you mean the hamburger joint down the street or are you talking about the finest dining we can get to?
Sarah: Yeah, so some of both. The finest dining that you can get so we have restaurants like Coltivare, Underbelly, etcetera on the platform and we also have our local favorite Mexican spots, barbeque joints, etcetera that you can get on the platform. And you can order that food and get it to you in 10 minutes or less, which is the exciting part.
Leisa: It’s really extraordinary but I think as extraordinary probably is your journey to this job and I know that’s one of the things my listeners love to hear about. How did you go from Co-founder of an accelerator all the way to General Manager of UberEATS?
Sarah: So it definitely has been a journey. So I started at SURGE Accelerator when I had moved back from Stanford Business School to Houston and I really was focused on doing something entrepreneurial, potentially starting a company or working at a startup, and there wasn’t a huge ecosystem in terms of the startup culture in Houston. Houston Technology Center was here which was an amazing organization, but outside of that there wasn’t a big ecosystem so I ended up meeting up with some other amazing Co-founders in Houston and actually starting SURGE to help build that ecosystem.
So we invested in energy software startups as you know and I did that for several years and then what we did for those startups is that we had mentors who were experts in the energy industry and had been in their shoes before actually mentoring them. And so one of the mentors – his name was Peter Duncan, he has recently won EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year – he was a Founder of Microseismic and I ended up going to work for Peter at Microseismic, which is an energy services company here in Houston. So focused still on technology, kind of building new, very interesting technology then for the oil and gas industry but still in Houston. And I did that for a few years and still really loved new technology and this Uber opportunity came up. Uber is I guess no longer a startup but everybody knows it’s a very fast growing company and UberEATS inside of Uber is a startup itself.
And so I had the opportunity to come join a startup within a startup and build something new for Houston again which is kind of where my passion lies.
Leisa: That’s fantastic and I know – and we’re not going to talk about it – but I know that as Uber continues to grow into new businesses you’ll get to be involved with them which is a wonderful challenge for you.
Sarah: Yes, I’m really excited. As Uber brings new products and services to Houston I’ll be be able to have a hand in kind of spreading those through the city.
Leisa: So if there was one thing you’d want someone else as ambitious – I’ll say you’re ambitious – as you are to know about achieving the sort of success, even through transition that you have, what would that one thing be?
Sarah: I may have said this last time we met but in case I didn’t I think the answer is always no if you don’t ask; that’s kind of what I close most panels I go to, etcetera, with. I’ve really used that rule in my life and I have noticed a marked difference since I started using it. It’s very like shocking and surprising actually how few people ask for what they want or actually assume that they can get what they want. And so go after what you want and make sure that you’re asking for it along the way.
Leisa: I don’t think you said that last time and I thank you because I think that is extraordinary advice. Thanks so much for being here Sarah.
Sarah: Of course, thank you.
Leisa: There you have it, another extraordinary woman doing extraordinary things. I’m Leisa Holland Nelson, President and Co-founder of ContentActive, Houston’s leading web and mobile design and development company. You can find me at ContentActive.com or follow me on Twitter @LHNelson. Well be back again next week with another edition of Women Mean Business.
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