F.ounders 2013: Gilt’s Michelle Peluso on the importance of execution

F.ounders 2013: Gilt’s Michelle Peluso on the importance of execution

Today at the F.ounders 2013 event at NASDAQ MarketSite in NYC, the first session was with Michelle Peluso, the freshly appointed CEO of flash sales site Gilt.

“I’m obsessed with how we accelerate growth, and the things we should be most focused on,” Peluso said in regards to her primary focus in her new position.

After selling travel site Site59 to Travelocity in 2000, she became the CEO of that company from 2003 to 2009 when she joined Citigroup as CMO.

Peluso spoke of her time starting Site59, saying that it was good “to be on the ground floor of a tech company…sleeping on the couch near the tech guys, not with the tech guys,” she joked.

“I’m not actually committed to a timeline going public,” Peluso said in response to rumors that Gilt would be fielding an IPO by the end of 2014. “It’s just day 14,” she says, “we just have to figure it out.”

Peluso says that they’re most focused on growth right now, reiterating where they would be focusing their resources.

“Gilt expanded into lots of things that worked really well,” Peluso says, noting that some other arenas were not as successful for the company.

Peluso says that some key things  are considered when Gilt is going to expand into an area now. Including whether they’re able to sustain the investment, as well as whether they’ll contribute something significant to that vertical.

“The question is how we do more internationally, rather than whether we will do more internationally,” Peluso says in regards to its recent expansion into international shipping.

“Mobile as a device presents unique opportunities,” says Peluso in response to a question about mobile. “You can do things on mobile devices that you can’t do with [non mobile] devices.”

Peluso referenced location services that Gilt is investigating that would allow for the store to alert customers when they’re near stores that carry products they would like. She also noted that mobile devices could allow for a user to snap a shot of their face and try on sunglasses on the fly.

Peluso noted that the relevance team at Gilt was one that she was ‘most excited’ about, and said that they’re only tapping “1%” of what they could be doing to make sure that the right products are shown to the right people.

“Our best hires always come from referrals,” Peluso said about trying to find the right people in New York, a highly competitive hiring environment. “I’ve always been a New York entrepreneur,” she said. “It’s exciting for me to be running a company in New York.”

“It’s really easy to be seduced…execution is so critical,” Peluso said in some parting thoughts. “So many great companies weren’t first to the idea, they were the best at executing.” She noted that this was the tack that Travelocity took. “We just made sure we were exceptionally good at packaging last-minute travel.”

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