How I Became A Founder: Viv for your V’s Katie Diasti

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Katie Yara Diasti is the founder & CEO of Viv for your V. Katie grew up in Tampa, Florida with a big Egyptian-American family. She graduated from Boston College where she studied Marketing and Managing Social Impact. Katie combined her passion for womxn empowerment and sustainability to create Viv for your V. Katie’s experiences in marketing, creative strategy, and nonprofit work have shaped her to build this mission-driven brand.

When she’s not working on Viv, you can catch Katie playing tennis or teaching tennis lessons. She loves boxing classes, listening to Lizzo at all hours of the day, and often has oat milk lattes running through her veins.

Viv for your v cofounder and CEO Katie Diasti.

Frederick Daso: When did you first gain interest in being a founder?

Katie Diasti: I noticed how few women were founders of renowned companies. As a young woman of color, I wanted to pave the way for more women that look like me to go after their dreams of starting their own company.

Having the opportunity to create Viv, a brand that represented all menstruators’ voices while providing them a better product for their body and the Earth, is all the motivation I needed.

Daso: What were the essential experiences that helped you be in the position you are today?

Diasti: Learning how to talk to customers and truly listen to what they want from you is crucial. I’ve learned to listen to the customer in my past roles from brand rep to retail to nonprofit work. That mindset has helped us craft our product line carefully, so we offer products we are proud to have the viv name on, formulated based on what people with periods tell us they need.

Daso: Who were the critical individuals or groups that contributed to your professional success, and why?

Diasti: My mother is absolutely the first one. Without her even knowing it, she taught me more about entrepreneurship, resilience, and drive than anyone else. She ran her veterinary clinic while being a single mother and took on both vet and business manager roles for a long time. We had many talks about hard work and opportunity, mainly since my family had immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt.

So many members of the Boston College community have been crucial for my growth as a founder too. Duncan Walker, our investor and mentor, and Bridget Akinc, my professor of the class where viv was born, were two of the BC community members who shaped me as a founder.

Daso: How did you prepare for yourself to become a founder?

Diasti: Viv was born through a class project my senior year that I never stopped working on. I wasn’t planning on becoming a founder from day 1, so there was no formal preparation time. Instead, I drove to prepare myself every day for the role I have now and what that role will look like as we grow. I am always listening and learning from people that are experts in what they do. I work on removing imposter syndrome from my mind (easier said than done, of course!) and continuously listening to other founding stories.

Daso: Were there any particular clubs at school that were useful resources for breaking into your current field?

Diasti: I was heavily involved in a student organization at Boston College that I ended up being the Co-President of my senior year. That taught me a ton about leading a team, working with a budget, and listening to feedback.

In the second semester of my senior year, I got involved with the center of entrepreneurship, which very much shaped how I think about building Viv today. The lesson here is that it’s never too late to get involved!

Daso: What do you think stops most people from becoming a founder?

Diasti: There is this false perception that you need to have tons of years of industry expertise or have some world-changing revolutionary science to become a founder. All you need is the passion for a problem you are trying to solve and the drive to do whatever it takes to solve it.

As a 23-year-old founder, I don’t have tons of years of industry expertise under my belt. Instead, I became an expert on the problem I am working to solve by only talking to many women about their issues and genuinely understanding Viv’s need as a brand.

Daso: Looking back, would you change anything about your professional path?

Diasti: Going into my senior year of college, I was obsessed with the idea of getting a full-time job as fast as possible that I began not to care what that company even did. I never even ended up going to that job I secured in the fall of my senior year. Instead, I decided to pursue Viv full time after pushing back my start date (twice!). I wouldn’t change that decision for the world, except maybe reneging that job offer even sooner.

Daso: Who are three other people I should interview next?

Diasti: Minette Yu from Storeyline, Lurein Perera from Sidebr, and Daniella Zakon from Upwell Cosmetics

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If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out my other work on LinkedIn and my personal website, Follow me on Twitter @fredsoda, on Medium @fredsoda, and on Instagram @fred_soda.

Forbes Under 30 Contributor, 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice, Venture Fellow at Rough Draft Ventures

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