Lindsay Meyer '08

Entrepreneur Took a Stand Against Harassment

Lindsay Meyer 1440x617

If you Google “Lindsay Meyer entrepreneur,” more than half of the results on the first page reference Meyer’s decision to speak out about the sexual abuse and harassment she faced from an investor in her first company.

Meyer, who says she would rather be known for the success of her San Francisco-based retail company, Batch, struggled with the decision to go public about her experience.

“Over the last year, I’ve come to realize that oftentimes, these big events in your life find you, and it is up to you to make the most of it and deal with it, or to run away from it and bury it,” says Meyer, a 2008 Notre Dame graduate. “When I was being taken advantage of, I felt like I didn’t have any other choice except to keep going and suffer the consequences of other people’s bad behavior, because I needed the money for my company. So I’ve chosen to, even though it has always been agonizing, to use it as a way to inspire and encourage others so that they don’t have to suffer.”

In June 2017, Meyer spoke to the New York Times as part of a story about the culture of harassment in the tech industry and Silicon Valley—months before the Me Too movement exploded in October 2017, when a number of Hollywood actresses accused powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse and harassment.

Before Meyer talked to the New York Times, a group of women had made harassment allegations about the same investor who had harassed her, but the story—which ran in a niche tech publication—hadn’t gained much traction. “I had an overwhelming amount of evidence—thousands of text messages, horrible voicemails, email trails—even though it had been about two years since the incidents,” she says. “I could clearly see the wrongdoing and felt like there was an obligation to tell the story.”

In December, Time Magazine named The Silence Breakers its 2017 Person of the Year, honoring all the women involved in the Me Too movement. Meyer was recognized as one of these Silence Breakers, alongside the likes of actress Ashley Judd and women in the hospitality, restaurant, farming, and journalism industries. The attention and recognition that came with sharing her story did not elicit simple emotions of relief or triumph. Meyer says she still struggled with shame about the harassment—even during photoshoots with Time or interviews with NBC News.

“It was a year ago that I was going through this, and it has taken me the last 12 months to really start to feel okay with what happened and my role in it. It’s funny for me to look back on the photos from the New York Times story and know how I was feeling at the time, but see that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to judge that from looking at the picture of me in my nicely pressed sweater with my perfect hair,” Meyer says. “For so long, people would recognize me or thank me, and I just felt like hanging my head. But now I’m past the PTSD of the experience and can recognize the historical and social significance—it’s certainly not gone to my head, but something I reflect on. Especially one year ago, no one was really talking about this and there wasn’t this culture where women who made accusations would be believed or supported.”

Speaking out about the harassment was not without risks—she was just weeks away from raising the initial round of funding to start Batch when the New York Times story came out.

“There is little precedence in history of women going up against powerful men with more financial resources and professional clout and winning,” she says. “I was worried about whether it would jeopardize my entire career, and if my livelihood was on the line. I didn’t want to jeopardize the opportunity to get my dream company up and running.”

But today, more than a year after launch, Batch is thriving. Meyer describes the company as an “immersive, tactile shopping experience.” Even though much of the retail industry is shifting to online sales, Meyer says that research shows that people still prefer buying more expensive items for the home in person. People can see, touch, and experience at the Batch showroom, which is located in an old firehouse in San Francisco and set up like a home, rather than a store.

“Shopping has this cool opportunity to shift into spaces that are more like people’s homes, which are highly personalized, and a more intimate and inspiring setting,” she says. “It’s not a store or a shopping mall, and it’s not even just through your iPhone or computer screen. People are coming in to discover new things, try things before they buy them, then actually buy them here with us.”

They change the “batch” (what they call the store inventory) five times a year: once for each season and a bonus holiday edition. Everything in the showroom is for sale, including home décor, food and beverages, art, electronics, and more. The brands for sale are often fellow entrepreneurial ventures, and Meyer says she likes being able to help other early-stage entrepreneurs.

They are preparing to launch in a second city soon, and Meyer has consciously created a company culture that is diverse and welcoming.

“Silicon Valley is largely viewed as an unfriendly place for women, whether it is workplace policies or commitment to diversity,” she says. “Now I’m in a position where I’ve had to come through all of that, and I think I can change that in the micro by being an entity that employs a lot of women, that has progressive policies, that offers things like paid maternity leave and unlimited paid time off and really tries to build up other women in support of their goals and career objectives.”