Entrepreneurial Institute

At Founders Unplugged, The Knot Founders Share Ups and Downs of Starting Up

A recurring theme of the 2-week J-Term Startup Sprint (a.k.a. J-Sprint) program is to “get outside of the building,” encouraging teams to leave the Leslie eLab (or their homes, or offices...you get the idea) in an effort to interview early adopter customers, identify value propositions, and design a scalable and repeatable business model.  

In an effort to facilitate this process, the J-Sprint program invited startup experts from the greater NYC region (“outside,” if you will) to share their stories of starting a company. The program hosted “Founders Unplugged” sessions that gave NYU entrepreneurs an opportunity to ask questions and receive advice from seasoned startup experts in an intimate setting.

On January 11th, NYU alumni power couple Carley Roney (Tisch ’90, ’94) and David Liu (Tisch ’87), co-Founders of The Knot, led a session of Founders Unplugged. Carley and David’s story started at NYU where both attended the Tisch School of the Arts. They regaled us with stories of launching The Knot with a few friends from school and their entrepreneurial journey since.

If you have recently attended a wedding, you may be familiar with The Knot. Started in the early Wild West days of the web, the site first launched as an “app” on the AOL platform and eventually expanded into other platforms, establishing themselves as a leader in the wedding space. Now publicly traded under the name XO Group Inc., The Knot has grown with its audience and has a number of lifestyle brands in its portfolio including The Nest for new homeowners, and The Bump for new mothers.

Throughout the session, J-Sprint teams sought advice pertinent to their own startups, ranging from fundraising to navigating the startup trough of sorrow. Among many other nuggets of wisdom, Carley advised teams to “declare victory early” and celebrate any wins, however small they may be. Through a number of these small wins, The Knot eventually realized that the best solution to solve consumers' needs was a comprehensive online resource for all things "wedding."

J-Sprint team members left the session feeling inspired. Jenn Kim, co-founder of NYU Startup Food Period, said that it was “amazing to hear how Carley managed so many things—starting the company, having a baby, and renovating their home—all at the same time.” Carley and David’s entrepreneurial spirit, hard work, resilience, and sense of humor shined through in their story. We are thrilled and thankful to have them share their journey with the J-Sprint teams.

Want to learn more about Carley and David’s story? Stay tuned for updates on their upcoming segment on NPR’s “How I Built This.”