Cupid Pulse, Lori Bizocco, Woman Entrepreneur

Headshot-of-mecroppedThere is nothing like finding yourself through your business.  It gives you the ability to do something you love every single day.  Not many people can say that.  I was introduced to Lori Bizocco who is the entrepreneur behind Cupid Pulse.  She loves what she does.  It is apparent from the moment she begins to talk.  Cupid Pulse is a relationship site that watches celebrities and gives advice.  Not something that rocks my boat but the fact is she has hit on something that a lot of people enjoy. 

Lori grew up in Syracuse.  Her parents owned a mail order company around fishing and tackle. They ran their business out of their house.  They kept that business until Lori was in high school.  Their house was situated on 5 acres of land with other homes on it where there were always people running in and out because of their business.  They sold the business and her father went into marketing consulting.  He discovered the Internet early on building a portal that colleges used.  It was one of the largest search engines at that time.  Her Mom ended up in the insurance business.

Lori did not go far after graduating high school.  She went to Morrisville State College in Syracuse where she got an associate degree in journalism and then went to New York Institute of Technology to complete her bachelors continuing on to get her masters in communications.  She went straight through college even went during the summer months. At one point she had an internship through the college where she worked with an ad agency and had the benefit of working with the Girl Scouts and the National Heart Agency working on marketing tools.

The last semester of her masters program she took a class in PR and realized that was it.  She saw an ad in the NY Times that a dermatologist took out looking for an in house PR person.  It was the early 90's.  Lori managed to get in front of this doctor who was focused on new beauty treatments.  He had a seven doctors who worked for him. He essentially wanted to get on TV.  He thought that it made sense to have a PR department.  He hired Lori to start-up that department.  It took her a year but she got him on CNN, ABC, CBS and magazines.  She stayed for two and a half years.

In those two and a half years someone told her that she should work for an agency.  She didn't know from agencies. She started to do some research and decided that she would get a job at one of the top 5 agencies.  She would come home every night from work and send out resumes and cover letters to people in the agencies.  Six month into the process she finally got a hit.  She saw that at Edelman they were looking for a VP.  She knew she wasn't qualified for that job but knew at least who to send a letter to because now she had the contact.  She met with a few people there and then heard nothing for three months.  Then the call came.  They were going to hire her as a senior account executive.  A year later she was promoted to account supervisor and a year later senior account advisor.  Then she decided to leave.

Lori got a job at Porter Novelli.  It was basically the same thing.  Through out her tenure in PR roughly a 12-15 year span she worked in healthcare pr.  She really wanted to do something more interesting.  Someone said to her you could go do whatever you want but remember it is the late 90's and the economy is good now but it won't always be and healthcare market is going to continue to be strong.  So she stuck with it.  By the time she was a VP at Bursson-Marsteller, the oldest PR agency in the world, she was able to create an opportunity for herself to do what she wanted.  She came up with the idea to use celebrities to promote pharmaceutical products.  . 

Her first campaign was with Kathleen Turner.  It was about the arthritis medication she was taking.  The NY Times did a whole spread about how pharmaceutical companies were using celebrities to push their products.  Her boss said not to worry about that press because what she was doing was cutting edge.  Lori stayed there for 5 years.  

The last gasp of her PR years was working for Manning Selvage and Lee as a senior VP.  She wasn't planning on going there but they came to her with a client that had requested her.  They gave her an insane deal.  She stayed a year because she wanted to spend 45% of her time with celebrity management.  It was during that time that she met a man on Match.com.  It was a whirlwind romance.  She moved out of the city to Brooklyn.  He was already settled and did not have to work.  She decided to leave corporate America.  It was risky and drastic but she just felt at that time it was the thing to do.

Lori got married, moved to Brooklyn and got pregnant on her honeymoon.  She was 39.  She had her first kid before she turned 40. She wasn't working at that point and thought if I can do anything what would it be.  She always loved writing so she started pitching people and telling them about her relationship stories to online dating sites.  One of them hired her to be a writer.  During this she was taking writing classes in NYC focusing on getting better at writing.  An editor in her class approached her and said why don't you do a column on my site on celebrities?  You can go to events, red carpets, etc.  She said sure.  She started calling publisits and did it for about a year until she got pregnant with her second child at 42.

Lori thought to herself why am I doing this work for other people?  I can hire my own people and launch my own dating site.  She put out some bids to a few marketing people trying to figure out her angle and one guy said to her your idea of what you want to do is right in front of you.  She thought about it and at 9 months pregnant launched Cupid Pulse, a celebrity relationship site.  It was 2010.

Three years later, over a million unique visitors, who watch interviews with celebrity housewives, bachelor contestants and other people like Kelly Ripka.  Lori loves it.  She has 15 people working for her.  She works out of her house just like her parents did.  5 people are on site and the others are virtual.  Lori spends time talking to college students about what she built and how she did it.  They are even focusing on a reality show right now on how entrepreneurial women and how empowering they are.  It has never been easy as building your own company isn't but she has stuck with it.  Lori will tell you there are days when she thinks why am I doing this but most days owning her own life and her own business just works fine.