Proof Data Can’t Always Help You Make Decisions
The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “When making a tough business decision, how do you know when to trust your gut?” is written by Morgan Hermand-Waiche, founder and CEO of Adore Me.
I started Adore Me, an e-commerce lingerie startup, at age 29 by trusting my gut. It surprised everyone, myself included, as I was always a die-hard, data-driven decision maker. With a masters degree in mathematics and computer science from Les Mines in Paris—the French equivalent of MIT—followed by three years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and a Harvard Business School MBA, every single business decision I made was based on dry, number-backed rationale.
And that’s exactly why I knew, for the first time in my life, that I needed to put data aside and trust my gut: when it refused to be easily overpowered by pure rationale.
While at Harvard, I got the idea for Adore Me when I tried to buy lingerie on a budget as a birthday gift for my girlfriend. I realized the lingerie market was underserviced and saw a venture opportunity there. As a guy who had never shopped for lingerie before, I had absolutely no knowledge of the market, so I did what I do best: looked for data.
I did some heavy researching and everything I found only emphasized what a terrible idea it was to start a lingerie company: A single player whose reign seemed never-ending fully dominated the lingerie market, barriers to entry were sky-high, and every single player that had tried to penetrate the lingerie market had failed—even huge brands with a lot of money and resources like Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) and the now-deceased Fredericks of Hollywood.
The data clearly pointed out that this was a no-go. As a usually very rational guy, the story should have ended right then because data was telling me to give up.
But for the first time in my life, I had a gnawing feeling that didn’t go away. And because that gut feeling went so against the very definition of my data-driven DNA, I knew I just couldn’t ignore it. And so I, a man with no knowledge of lingerie, started a lingerie startup.
Today, Adore Me has raised $11.5 million from VCs and private investors, has 86 employees, and is ranked No. 14 on the fastest-growing company in America on the Inc. 500 list. Sometimes, when you follow your gut, others follow suit.
Morgan Hermand-Waiche is founder and CEO of Adore Me, a disruptive e-commerce startup revolutionizing the lingerie industry, ranked No. 2 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies in NYC. With $11.5 million raised from VCs and private investors, Morgan leads a team of 86 employees across the U.S. and Europe.
Read all responses to the Entrepreneur Insider question: When making a tough business decision, how do you know when to trust your gut?
Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Trust Your Gut by Gesche Haas, founder of Dreamers//Doers.
Here’s What You Should Do When You Have to Make a Tough Decision by Alexander Goldstein, founder and CEO of Eligo Energy.
Never Make a Big Decision Without Doing This First by Feris Rifai, cofounder and CEO of Bay Dynamics.
Here’s How Questioning Decisions Can Ruin a Business by Pat Peterson, founder and CEO of Agari.