Founder Spotlight

Naomi Shah of Meet Cute  

Want to know what it is really like to start a company? In our Founder Spotlight series we have candid conversations with real founders about the good, bad and ugly of getting your hands dirty and building a business.

Meet Naomi Shah of Meet Cute. Meet Cute is a modern media company and maker of original audio rom-coms that inspire the full spectrum of love and redefine the genre one story at a time. We had the opportunity to speak with their founder, Naomi Shah, to learn more about her past life on the trading floor, how negativity fueled her startup idea and why she makes her bed every morning. Listen to Meet Cute’s original rom-com episodes and explore what other fun things their team is doing.

What’s your story? How did you get here?

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. My parents owned a company together. I always understood what it meant to be committed to your work in a way that was bigger than just a nine to five job. They showed me from an early age that there was something special about running your own business, and feeling ownership over the way your work impacts other people.

What problem are you trying to solve?

There is a lot of negativity in the world today. We are coming out of a global pandemic, mass shootings fill the news, and the recession is leaving people anxious with an uncertain future. Our audience is looking for an escape through storytelling, whether that’s their favorite show, movie, book, or podcast. Storytelling has the ability to connect everyone. Rom-coms, specifically, are a special kind of storytelling. Growing up, I always watched rom-coms with my dad at the end of the week. It was our way of decompressing since they are total comfort-watching. As much as I love the genre, I wasn’t really seeing a lot of diverse experiences and people looking back at me on screen. Romance and rom-coms are far from dead. We are trying to bring audiences everywhere positive entertainment in a bleak world, and do it in a way they can relate to by revamping the genre and reimagining it with modern characters and situations.


Binge Meet Cute’s rom-coms on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. and be sure to follow them on Instagram and TikTok

What keeps you up at night?

The root of all things that keeps me up at night is simply “How can we do better?” That includes questions like: How can we create a rom-com that no one has ever seen before? How could we have structured that campaign to have performed better? How can I better tailor my pitch when going into the next partner meeting? How can we become the next big hit rom-com on Netflix? How could I have better guided my team through that issue? Naturally, I’m a competitive person – which I would argue is a trait amongst all founders. The desire to get better for myself, for my team, and the company is always at the forefront of my mind.

What is your favorite beverage?

I love a good coffee, especially a hot oat milk latte. My colleagues tease me that I have more of an obsession with oat milk rather than coffee. Califia Oat Barista Blend is my go to.

Are you a risk-taker and/or how did you learn to embrace risk-taking?

Yes, my first job out of school on the trading floor involved taking a lot of risk every day, and being comfortable making decisions with limited sets of data. Same with working at Union Square Ventures, in a very different way, when investing in early stage companies. However, personally, my biggest career risk was jumping into founding Meet Cute. What helped me take that leap into founding was knowing I had an amazing network of mentors, family, friends and investors supporting me along.

Have you had to pivot since your initial idea/product/solution?

We haven’t made a big pivot to our business model, but we’ve made a series of changes to continuously adapt to changing times and audience needs. For example, when Meet Cute started, we were creating hundreds of 15 minute audio rom-com stories. Today, we’ve shifted to creating one featured series each month consisting of six, 15-minute episodes, coupled with original social video as well. Our current release cadence allows our audience to develop a closer relationship with the characters and stories, while still maintaining consistency . We also “pivoted” to being a completely remote company when the pandemic started. The key to navigating change is listening to your customers and employees, understanding their wants and needs, and shifting your product to give them the best experience.

What is something that fits into the “If I knew then what I know now” category?

Embrace failure and change because without it there is no way to improve yourself and your product. It took us a few tries to figure out what the perfect format for our stories and release cadence, but we now know what works and why. If we hadn’t tested out all these formats, then we wouldn’t know our audience’s behaviors nor would we have been able to grow our product and grow as a team. Every step is important learning.

What are your passions/interests outside work?

On weekends, I’m usually out with friends, exploring a different neighborhood or restaurant, skiing (in the winter) or playing pickleball (in the summer). During the week, I find that what helps rejuvenate me and bring structure to my day is maintaining a healthy routine: including making my bed in the morning, enjoying a cup of coffee, and going on a walk after work to bookend my day.

Do you have any pets?

I don’t currently, but I’m definitely a dog person. I get my fill by being around all my friends’ dogs.

What is one thing people don’t know/misconception of being a founder?

I think a common misconception today is that founders have glamorous jobs. And while a big part of the job is being the public face of the company, a lot of the role entails doing behind-the-scenes work to enable other people to do their jobs better.

What advice would you give someone starting their own business?

The advice I would give to any looking to start their own business is to have conviction and trust your gut. It just may not happen overnight. So have patience, and stay focused and disciplined. There will be so many decisions along the way you never thought you’d have to consider, but approaching each decision point with perseverance and consistently showing up makes all the difference. Building a company from the ground up takes a lot of vulnerability, but I think the world needs more of that.

The Founder Spotlight Series focuses on the entrepreneurial journey. At Buzzy Rocket we are passionate about helping entrepreneurs share their vision. Interested in participating in the Founder Spotlight Series? Contact the Buzzy Rocket team. 

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