At the 2023 Tuck Investiture Ceremony, Poshmark cofounder and senior vice president Tracy Sun T’05 and class speaker Jeffrey Williams Navarro T’23 offered advice on how to stay persistent in the face of adversity.
Looking back on the origins of Poshmark, Tracy Sun T’05 says she faced an unbelievable amount of rejection while raising money for her business idea and was thankful that she didn’t give up along the way.
Poshmark cofounder Tracy Sun T’05, this year’s Investiture speaker, has been named a top female tech founder by USA Today and Tech Crunch and a “Woman Making Waves in Tech” by Refinery29.
I was fantasizing about quitting after being rejected more than 100 times, Sun said while delivering Tuck’s Investiture address on June 10. What she didn’t know at the time was that she just needed a single person to say yes. And eventually, she got it.
Despite all those rejections, we did it, said Sun, Poshmark’s cofounder and senior vice president of seller experience.
You can get a hundred rejections and still be successful.
Sun went on to raise $200 million to lay the foundation for Poshmark, a thriving online marketplace that has over a hundred million users. The company went public in 2021 and was sold in January to Naver, a South Korean internet company for $1.2 billion.
Sun said the experience helped her normalize the idea of failure and told graduates that they should anticipate it at some point during their careers but to not get deterred by it.
Recognize and embrace these opportunities to be the newbie. If your story is anything like mine, this will be one of the most powerful tools you’ll use in your career.
—Tracy Sun T’05, cofounder, Poshmark
We often get in the way of our own success, and I think it’s time we stop doing that, said Sun, who was named a top female tech founder by USA Today and Tech Crunch, a “Woman Making Waves in Tech” by Refinery29, and is a member of the Business of Fashion 500, the definitive professional index of people shaping the $2.4 trillion fashion industry.
As a student at Tuck, Sun referred to herself as a newbie, someone who
rarely crushed it. She had studied psychology and biology as an undergrad at Columbia, initially hoping to become a neurosurgeon but realized that it wasn’t the direction she wanted to take her career. She enrolled at Tuck looking for a change. Upon arrival, she quickly learned how to embrace curiosity and ask good questions, which served her well on her way to creating Poshmark.
I learned how to stitch ideas together in a way that people with more experience don’t even think to do and learned how to lead without being an expert, she said.
This is the one thing which gave me the confidence to found Poshmark.
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, student speaker and Tuck MBA graduate Jeffrey Williams Navarro T’23 served as a director for the Tuck Social Venture Fund, a fellow for the Tuck Center for Digital Strategies, and as co-chair for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.
This sentiment was echoed by Class President Destinée Mentor-Richards T’23, who served as the Student Body President, the first African American woman to do so in Tuck’s history.
To me, being a Tuckie means leading with curiosity, she said.
Being a Tuckie means embracing the unknown with humility and grace and never being ashamed to raise your hand to offer or receive.
Class speaker Jeffrey Williams Navarro T’23, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a graduate of George Washington University, encouraged his fellow classmates to stay strong and follow their dreams amid uncertainty in the job market. Their Tuck education, he told his classmates, has prepared them well.
The fact is, times will change and so will the economy and the hiring market, but what you created, reinforced, and cultivated here at Tuck will remain, he said.
You came here to build upon your resilience, leadership, determination, and unwavering belief in your abilities. Those skills were not meant to be used when times were easy. As hard as it is to see, there is opportunity in chaos, and each of you are ready to seize it as long as you believe in yourself.
Sun agreed with the idea that uncertainty can be a powerful motivator.
We often gloss over those moments of not knowing because it’s pretty freaking uncomfortable, but for me, drawing from moments of not knowing has been the most important skill I learned here at Tuck.
Looking to the future, she predicted that there will be plenty of times when graduates will find themselves the beginner in the room and encouraged them to not shy away from it.
You came here to build upon your resilience, leadership, determination, and unwavering belief in your abilities. … As hard as it is to see, there is opportunity in chaos, and each of you are ready to seize it as long as you believe in yourself.
—Jeffrey Williams Navarro T’23
Recognize and embrace these opportunities to be the newbie, Sun said.
If your story is anything like mine, this will be one of the most powerful tools you’ll use in your career.
Also during the ceremony, Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor T’88 was honored for his commitment to better the world of business and received Tuck’s 2023 Distinguished Achievement Medal. Rodriguez-Pastor is the founder and chair of Intercorp and has been featured in Fortune’s rankings of the World’s Greatest Leaders. You can read his award citation here.