Ali de Bold co-founded ChickAdvisor with her husband Alex in 2006. The digital platform was created after the couple realized that there were no review websites specifically dedicated to women and the products they use. Ali is the main spokesperson for ChickAdvisor and a brand advocate for the variety of top-tier brands that the platform partners with. She also organizes innovative offline events for reviewers, including the popular “ShopCrawl” and “ShowCase” that celebrate both the brands partnered with ChickAdvisor and the community of consumers who faithfully use the digital platform to both read and add reviews. She is a Ryerson University RTA graduate and a third-generation entrepreneur.
My first job ever was… Working in a clothing store when I was 15. I loved that job because I really enjoy sales and (obviously) I loved the discounts!
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I could not believe there was no place on the internet for women to review things like mascara or hair salons! I was always skeptical of advertising claims (“amplify your lashes by 1,000%!”) and was much more interested to read about real experiences from women. It’s hard to believe that in 2004 when we first came up with this business idea, there was nothing like it already out there.
My proudest accomplishment is… Can I say my kids here? They are always my proudest accomplishment. Second is ChickAdvisor and the amazing team I get to work with every day.
My boldest move to date was… Leaving Winnipeg as a teenager in my green Cavalier pulling a U-Haul across the country with nothing but debt to my name.
I surprise people when I tell them… That 27 isn’t my real age! 😉
My best advice to people starting their career is… Follow your passion and the money will follow. You need that passion to be able to endure the all-nighters, the mountain of stress and the constant rejection that inevitably come with owning your own business.
My best advice from a mentor was… To focus in on one core part of the business and just be the best at that. It’s so tempting to try to offer everything that clients are asking for, but then you end up with a very complicated business where you are doing too many things. This advice is from John Warrillow’s book Built to Sell. I’ve never met him in-person but have devoured and re-read that book over and over. Such fantastic advice in there for anyone who wants to build a sustainable business.
My biggest setback was… Trying to raise money circa 2005 when would be investors could still say things like, “We don’t feel totally comfortable investing in women because… they are too emotional.” On top of that nugget, I was laughed out of countless meetings with venture capitalists who couldn’t fathom any woman wanting to review lipstick. Because we were unsuccessful raising money, we had to bootstrap the business, which turned out to be a great thing for us.
I overcame it by… Using those negative experiences as motivation to succeed, despite these challenges. There was no way I was going to let those guys be right about me or my company. I firmly believe that only you know what you are capable of. Just focus on that and ignore the naysayers.
Work/life balance is… A unicorn. It’s especially hard if you are a parent. You just do the best you can and make sure you put down the phone and are fully present when you are with the kids.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… Much. I have always preferred the focus to be on my company, not me personally. I once had a mentor recommend building more of a brand around myself, but I’ve always wanted the attention to be on ChickAdvisor so that the business would be just as strong with or without me.
I stay inspired by… Listening to podcasts and reading good books. I’m currently reading The Happiness Advantage. It’s a really inspirational read about what you can do to rewire your brain to search for opportunity and positive outcomes. Super fascinating.
The future excites me because… When I left Winnipeg penniless, I wrote my Mom a cheque for a million dollars with the sincere hope that one day she’d be able to cash it. It excites me to think that one day soon she actually could.