Sarah Hodges is everything that a Boston entrepreneur should strive to be. There’s nothing one-dimensional about her involvement in this city’s startup ecosystem. From her early days as owner of Pavo Real (a former Newbury Street boutique) to her current day roles as VP at Pluralsight, co-founder at Intelligent.ly, advisor at Flybridge Capital Partners and board member at Build, she’s had her hands in all aspects of startupdom.
Oh yeah, she’s also been involved with local companies Carbonite and FitnessKeeper. So there’s that, too.
Because Hodges is clearly so well-versed in the ways of entrepreneurship, I asked her some questions about her journey, herself and any wisdom should could share.
Olivia Vanni: Did you always want to be an entrepreneur? If not, what were your original career aspirations and what sparked those to change?
Sarah Hodges: Growing up, I wanted to be Clair Huxtable from the Cosby Show. When I graduated from college, I followed Clair’s lead, and applied to law school, then deferred before I started, and fell into entrepreneurship on accident. While working in Chicago in a brick and mortar retail company, I connected with an incredible mentor who took a chance on me. Together, we launched an eCommerce and direct mail business, and I got my first taste of the highs and lows of building my first company.
OV: What lessons have you learned from your various roles? Which one was the hardest to process?
SH: In November 2014, we sold our company, Smarterer, to Pluralsight, where I’m now the VP of People. The experience taught me about the value of investing in culture early and often. In other companies, I’d spent a lot of time talking about culture. At Pluralsight, we have two core rules and three values, and we live and breathe them every single day. From hiring to decision-making, we lead with culture. I’m truly awestruck by our founders’ early grasp of the importance of making culture central to our business strategy, and their relentless commitment to upholding our values.
“I’m more interested in translating vision into action.”
OV: What’s your favorite hat to wear at a company?
SH: I’m not a visionary thinker; I love the chance to work alongside other leaders who have a strong sense of vision, but personally thrive on operationalizing ideas. I’m more interested in translating vision into action. Understanding how to bring people and teams together to deliver results and making improvements over time – that’s where I get my energy.
OV: What’s your biggest personal accomplishment?
SH: Selling our business to Pluralsight was a major win for the Smarterer team in 2014. We navigated some highs together, but there were also some very low points as we struggled to find product-market fit and scale. The exit signaled that we had created something of real value in the market, and we were able to find a home with an incredible company at Pluralsight. We shared a common mission, and had so much respect for the team and what they were building – it was truly a wonderful outcome.
OV: Where are you usually found on your time off and what are you doing?
SH: I love to explore. Will travel for food! Chile, Iceland and Japan are at the top of my list for new adventures.