"Leadership comes in all different shapes and sizes - you always have to be proud of who you are and the decisions you make.."

The life hack I swear by: My wife! She can do anything. My favorite car is: Mint green Bronco.

Marisa Hodgdon

Creating a social-shopping experience that has a positive IRL impact

EMPOWERING GEN Z TO MAKE VALUES-DRIVEN CHOICES. While consumer brands continue to grapple with catering to Gen Z, Marisa has spent the past few years researching the behaviors of the next generation of consumers. Her research identified that Gen Z are discerning with their dollars, drawn to inclusive brands, and interested in making sure their purchases have positive IRL impact.

One of the problems they face is the ability to easily discover brands that solve their everyday needs while also aligning with their values. Further, they expect the experience to be social, often connecting with other users to validate whether a brand is worthy of their support. They typically search out video content and connect with other like-minded users when making purchase decisions, but the amount of content is overwhelming and oftentimes, filled with misinformation.

These findings inspired Marisa to launch Campus, a social-shopping experience for Gen Z where people come together in a live setting not just to shop, but to connect with other users who share their interests. "We take trending topics that we know are top of mind for this generation and break them down in a live, interactive format. Ultimately, it's about exploring something that you’re really interested in or curious about, meeting other people who share that interest, and introducing a shopping experience that you can feel good about, filled with brands that are relevant, inclusive and mission-driven."

The idea of shopping being a social experience is not new. It was familiar to Marisa who, like many others in her generation, grew up in 'mall culture'. "Going to the mall wasn't just transactional; you went with someone from your social circle - maybe your mom or your friends - and those people helped you decide what it was that you needed at that moment in time, but also made it a fun, community experience. That community aspect to shopping is something we lost when online shopping came about." It's a practice she sees Gen Z reviving and amplifying on Campus, albeit in a mobile-first format.

The launch of Campus marks a return to Marisa's entrepreneurial roots. With a background in media and entertainment, she worked at MTV and Nielson before pivoting into the world of startups as a serial C-suite executive. She later became an operating partner for a venture capital fund, before starting her new company. "I was working with startups on how they could go to market in a better, faster, and stronger way, but a new opportunity presented itself, and here I am again as an entrepreneur."

SETTING THE STANDARD AT THE TOP. The lure of the startup world makes Campus Marisa's fifth company. As a leader in four previous startups over the past decade, she was often the youngest person at the top of a company, the only woman, and most times, the only person of color or queer voice in the room.

Marisa realized that when it comes to inclusivity in the workplace, it's vital to set the standard at the top – empowering others to be themselves and adopting a leadership style that ensures your team is bought into your startup journey every step of the way. "Yes, you have to be shrewd, and you have to make tough decisions, but it doesn't mean you have to rule with an iron fist. Leadership comes in all different shapes and sizes, and you always have to be proud of who you are and the decisions you make."

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