Entrepreneurship Live! with Jay Steinfeld, Founder of blinds.com
By Ishaan Gupta
On Thursday, October 28, 2021, the Herb Keller Entrepreneurship Center hosted a conversation between Jay Steinfeld and HKEC Director Luis Martins for Entrepreneurship Live!. Jay is the founder of Blinds.com and is a UT BBA alumnus. Since its founding in 1993, Blinds.com has become the number one window covering retailer and is known for its unique culture and engagement. During the event, Jay spoke about his entrepreneurial journey and his book, Lead from the Core: The 4 Principles for Profit and Prosperity. Published on November 20th, 2021, Lead from the Core addresses Jay’s struggles, his core principles, the values he lives by, and different leadership techniques he has utilized throughout his career.
Jay started Blinds.com in his garage with just $1,500. In 2014, the company was sold to Home Depot and now sells, in addition to blinds, decks, sheds, and vanities. Jay remained involved with Blinds.com until 2020 and has seen the firm grow from a singular brick-and-mortar to an e-commerce firm that does over a billion dollars in revenue.
As a founder, Jay devoted a lot of time and effort developing a culture for his employees that includes professional development, volunteering, running groups, and more. Jay lives by the four E’s: Evolve Continuously, Experiment Without Fear, Express Yourself, and Enjoy the Ride. Everyone at blinds.com knows the 4 E’s and Jay stressed that they aren’t just aspirational goals, it’s how they truly operate. When discussing the 4 E’s Jay stated, “That’s how 100 people beat Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot, and everybody else.”
Diversity and inclusion are also two values Jay holds highly as a leader. “We focused on gaining diverse perspectives. We want people who like to experiment and we like people who not only have the propensity to improve but demonstrate in their personal lives that they desire to get better at anything.” Jay focused on developing and empowering his employees to be the best and to give them what they deserve so they will be more loyal. “You need to give people as much as you can. You don’t just look at someone and try to get away with giving them the least you can. Instead, you give them the most you can, with training, responsibility, and a voice. Generosity is underrated.”
When asked if Jay had advice for young entrepreneurs, he spoke about the fear of starting something new. “The number one mistake I see people make is they think they need to know everything before they start. You’ll never know everything before you start. You can’t know what is going to happen, there is no perfect information. You just have to start, and just start slow, you don’t have to be all in from the very beginning.”
Watch Jay’s full interview here: