061: Boston Speaks Up with Entrepreneur Dominique Aubry
Boston Speaks Up (BSU) is a podcast owned and operated by Value Creation Labs. Listen to BSU on any podcast platform you choose: SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Play.
Dominique Aubry is the founder of Aubry, an influencer-driven shopping app that uses computer vision, augmented reality and AI to help women build personalized wardrobes. This isn’t Aubry’s first foray into retail innovation. She previously founded All Yoga Pants to give curvy women better clothing options.
With more than 15 years of experience working within the government, non-profit, for-profit, and startup community, Aubry has enjoyed a fascinating journey from Philadelphia to Boston. She began her career working for the Mayor's Office of Philadelphia and Teach for America.
Aubry went on to become a Lean trainer for the Techstars company Lean Startup Machine where she trained more than 3,000 entrepreneurs, companies, non-profits, and government agencies on lean methodology. This led her to becoming the Managing Director of Impact Hub Philadelphia, an innovation campus focused on supporting entrepreneurs creating social change.
When Aubry isn't working on her business, she mentors tech companies from Techstars, Harvard ilab, StartED, MassChallenge and others.
You can listen to our podcast discussion with Aubry embedded below or on any podcast platform you prefer (SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Play):
Enjoy an abridged written version of our interview with Aubry below.
Where did you grow up and how did that shape the woman you are today?
I grew up in New Hampshire, and went to boarding school in northern New Hampshire. In general it was a peaceful, happy, and a great upbringing. I was and have always been optimistic about the future. The only challenge was I could never find clothes that fit me given my natural curves were not a match for the suburban environment I lived in.
What is the first career you remember wanting to pursue?
I wanted to be a chemistry teacher, because I loved chemistry, science in general. I loved education and wanted to work with Superintendents, which I eventually did.
What was the most challenging and rewarding job you’ve had and why?
I think working with Superintendents and the school district was the most challenging and rewarding because the politics are extremely hard to deal with but the impact at the school level is inspiring.
What were some of the challenges you faced in the beginning of your career?
I usually had jobs where I was in a leadership position and in charge of my domain. I would get bored of repetitive things and once I learned what I wanted to learn I moved on. I found that most jobs there was a ceiling to how innovative you could be.
You had an interesting job bringing entrepreneurial practices to the education sector working with Superintendents and large school districts (Los Angeles Unified, Denver, Colorado, and Bellevue, Washington). What was the most rewarding part of that job?
Watching lean startup in action and creating something at scale that made a real impact. Doing lean startup on people vs on products was a shift in approach.
Would you recommend Teach for America to young people finishing college and why?
Yes, if they have an interest in teaching or want to experience something different. It is a good gap year, where you meet brilliant people and build a lot of empathy.
What’s your favorite story from your time working for the Mayor's Office of Philadelphia?
I think when I took a group of fellows to an urban community garden and farm (the days before gps) and we actually got lost a bit and ended up roaming around Philadelphia checking out all the small neighborhoods in North Philadelphia.
Can you describe what the Lean methodology is?
It is the ability to test and iterate on an idea and incorporate the learnings and insights into future tests. With Lean startup you run tests on a very specific and focused hypothesis to gain clarity rapidly.
Can you share more about your startup Aubry and what’s in store for the future?
We are a tech startup utilising preference technology to drive the consumers shopping experience. We are currently building the product and are looking to build partnerships.
How does Aubry utilize data science/AI? Are you a data scientist yourself? Do you have a team of data scientists? Tell us a bit more about how the data science behind Aubry works.
I am not a data scientist but one of our team members is a global expert in predictive technology. Building an algorithm is based on the initial logic you use to come to a conclusion that creates an output. Once you have validated that output you can build machine learning/AI around it.
What's your best advice to young people trying to get their career on track?
Focus on what you are best at, and find what you enjoy. Trying out a lot of things is great but you don’t want to be a master of none. Have intention for your actions and make sure you have a story to tell about it after.
How have you changed your approach to business during the pandemic?
We originally were making pants and we pivoted to a fully tech solution.
What are you most looking forward to doing once the pandemic is behind us?
Traveling and seeing friends, maybe hosting a bbq.
What challenge facing the world would you most like to see solved and why?
Hatred and fear. If we approach things with love we can evolve as a human race. Sometimes you need the bad to see the good but I think we have seen enough bad to know what good looks like.
You can follow BSU on Twitter at @BostonSpeaksUp, and recommend BSU guests by contacting email@example.com.