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Parisa Fowles-Pazdro of maxbone: “Finances and operations can either make or break entrepreneurs”

Finances and operations can either make or break entrepreneurs. I wish I was told to take a course on how to start a business from a bureaucratic perspective. Sales taxes for different cities, workman’s comp insurance, company handbook, employee contracts, how to read a model or to make a business deck, are basic things that […]

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Finances and operations can either make or break entrepreneurs. I wish I was told to take a course on how to start a business from a bureaucratic perspective. Sales taxes for different cities, workman’s comp insurance, company handbook, employee contracts, how to read a model or to make a business deck, are basic things that no one talks about, but you need to nail it to avoid mistakes from day one. I wasn’t raised in the U.S. so wasn’t familiar with the 100 different sales tax or other types of tax license and insurance you need and had to learn the hard way when I started.


As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Parisa Fowles-Pazdro. She started her entrepreneurial journey by capitalizing on her unique design sensibility. She recognized that the lack of high-quality materials and elevated shopping experience in the pet space were gaps in the market she could fill. Parisa built maxbone to become a community-driven pet and lifestyle company and continues to grow a successful team to build upon that vision, culminating in a strong fashion and market experience that creates a cultured, current, and loved brand.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My goal was always to have my own business, and I’ve always been very driven to succeed in what I do. I met my husband while living in London at the age of 28, and he was a successful real estate investor. In 2007, the fall of the financial markets had a major effect on our lives and we lost a lot of the assets that we had invested. We decided to move to New York in 2008, where we really had to restructure our lives. Both my husband and I are very resilient personalities and we work hard to get ourselves through tough times. We had to rebuild our careers and establish a network here in the USA. We moved to Los Angeles in 2011, where our hard work finally started to pay off. In 2017, I started maxbone, a pet and lifestyle brand born with the mission to elevate the pet industry and connect the gap between dogs and dog owners.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Getting a handwritten thank you letter from The Royals in the UK, Camilla and Charles.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Getting maxbone off the ground was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it has been very rewarding. One of the funniest mistakes I made was the time I had to label 200k dollars worth of products because I forgot to ask the manufacturers for barcodes. After that, I learned how important it is to create systems for supply chain management to avoid this kind of error.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have anyone to help me or mentor me when I was starting my business. I had to be extremely proactive to learn everything. Fortunately, maxbone got funded by Colle Capital, an amazing VC fund led by Victoria Grace and she has become my mentor since then. It’s very refreshing to have a female investor who is very passionate and helpful towards the business they invest in. I’m also creating an amazing advisory board composed of successful founders of established companies. I feel very grateful for one of them in particular, Trina Spear, co-founder of Figs +. It’s rare to find people who are honest about their professional journey, so I’m very lucky to have mentors who are transparent about their failures and guide me to avoid the same mistakes.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

There is an ingrained bias about female entrepreneurs that makes it more difficult to get funding. Although the conditions for female founders have improved a bit, the masculine culture in the corporate world and especially the VC environment, has made it hard for women to grow into leadership positions. There is this notion of fear that you have to be a tough person to be part of this male-dominated world. Personally, that has not been my experience. I use my femininity to win battles and you can do that very gracefully without subscribing to toxic masculinity. Female leaders often underestimate their leadership abilities and that’s where the fear stems from. Leadership is one’s ability to influence others to achieve common goals. To accomplish this, a leader needs to possess skills that I find every female entrepreneur has: communicate goals, be open to new ideas and other’s opinions, be transparent, motivate others, give support when needed and ensure the wellbeing of each team member. My team is predominantly female and it’s been so rewarding to work with such an inspirational hardworking team.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

My experience has taught me that if we treat gender equality as a priority in our businesses, the progress would be accelerated. Fortunately, maxbone is going in the right direction by having a predominantly female executive team, board members, and a woman-led VC fund. Simply talking about the topic can also help overcome this obstacle. It comes from our families and schools, and ultimately how we train our population to truly believe in equality and empower our young female population.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

I believe gender shouldn’t be a factor in whether or not a person can be a great founder. It’s all about their skills and ability to grow in their positions. Most women are naturally empathetic and value connections in the workplace. This enables us to have a strong understanding of what drives and motivates people. We are good at listening to other people’s perspectives even if they have an erratic or poor attitude. We are good at problem-solving, multi-tasking and we are not ego-players.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder. Can you explain what you mean?

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be an entrepreneur.

There’s also a misconception that entrepreneurs should know it all, but that’s far from the truth. Real founders are often visionaries with very creative minds that need a good team to succeed.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean? Being a founder is not for everyone and you should never force it.

Entrepreneurship is definitely more rewarding, but it’s not for everyone. It takes commitment, willingness to walk into high-risk situations, and persistence. As a founder, you need a certain strength and stamina to be successful. It’s something that comes from having an idea that you feel will make a difference and you need to be so passionate and obsessed with your vision that any obstacle that comes your way is not going to stop your mission. Founders get tested on so many levels where you want to give up so many times but the idea that you could make the world a better place, that’s what keeps you going.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Finances and operations can either make or break entrepreneurs. I wish I was told to take a course on how to start a business from a bureaucratic perspective. Sales taxes for different cities, workman’s comp insurance, company handbook, employee contracts, how to read a model or to make a business deck, are basic things that no one talks about, but you need to nail it to avoid mistakes from day one. I wasn’t raised in the U.S. so wasn’t familiar with the 100 different sales tax or other types of tax license and insurance you need and had to learn the hard way when I started.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Creating awareness around the fact that our pets are our family members, as well as how important it is to help animals in need. My goal is to use my success to create more shelters for dogs that are non-kill, with open fields for them to be trained and live a loved life instead of horrible shelter cages.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Adopt dogs, don’t buy them from pet stores. The final thing that happens to a dog after arriving at a shelter is either adoption or euthanasia. Unfortunately, the vast majority of pets in high-intake shelters don’t make it out alive. So adopting not only means you’re giving them a proper happy life but also giving a spot to other dogs.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Breakfast with Ariana Huffington and lunch with Elon Musk. Ariana is a true intellectual leader who has been authentic and genuine about her journey. It’s refreshing to listen to how she brings awareness to the importance of work/life balance, wellness, and health. And with Elon, I’d just get some insights with him since he’s a genius.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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