Then she started her real journey. It’s a trip that, so far, has led her to help start a company and landed her on Forbes’s 10th annual 30 Under 30 in the marketing and advertising category.

Bernstein is the chief marketing officer of Kickback, a shopping app that pays users who share brands and products. Kickback, which launched in September 2020, has a network of more than 2,500 social media influencers and collaborations with hundreds of companies, such as Sephora, Nike and Warby Parker.

“We brought on some big-name brands from fashion, beauty and wellness, and even big-box grocery stores,” says Bernstein.

Kickback is a subsidiary of Markett, which was Bernstein’s first stop. She joined the company as a marketing associate and rose through the ranks to become an influencer marketing manager and then director of influencer marketing.

Kickback is an invitation-only platform. In addition to the well-known companies, Kickback features small brands and companies founded by women.

“With the agency-style business that we had, we could have hired hundreds of employees or we could build the technology that gives influencers everything they need,” Bernstein says. “Every consumer should be an influencer.”

Getting the company up and running did not come without its scary moments, like when they were developing the technology to house the platform.

“At that point your passion kicks in,” she says. “We put in the work, found out what simple changes to make and it helped us have a successful launch.”

Making the Forbes list was something Bernstein says she dreamed about. It’s also something she didn’t believe was possible, especially with a company that’s still in its infancy.

“Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest when you’re in the trees, when you’re doing something new rather than going to an established business,” she says.

Bernstein says the Forbes honor validates her decision to move across the country and start a company.

“It means what I’m doing is worthwhile, that the risk I took definitely has its rewards,” Bernstein says. “It means every time I think I should be doing what everyone else is doing, this recognition affirms that I should be going down my own path, creating my own way.”

Bernstein says Wofford, where she majored in psychology and minored in philosophy, taught her how to connect with people. She says that’s not an opportunity she would have had at a large university.

“It’s a smaller community, and I got to know my professors and peers on a personal level,” she says. “That allowed me to learn how people work, what motivates them and ultimately how to connect with anyone and everyone. At the end of the day, Wofford taught me how to be a good person. It’s a tight-knit community of people who want to get to know you on a deep level. I quickly realized the importance of valuing people’s differences and allowing those differences to lead to meaningful connections. That’s the key to being successful.”

By Robert W. Dalton