Twenty-year-old Jessica Mah is building her business around helping other businesses track their money online.
It’s called inDinero, an online finance tool that helps manage and organize a small business’s money flow. Mah started it in 2010 with Andy Su and Broden Liu, two of her classmates in the computer science program at UC Berkeley.
“It’s like a mint.com, only for small businesses,” said Mah. “It lets you know what your revenue is, what your margins are, what you’re spending in different categories…everything is broken down for you.”
And maybe because inDinero allows her to watch her own company’s expenses so closely, Mah is quite reserved about biting off more than she can chew: inDinero received $1 million in seed capital last September but is not looking for more money right now despite growing interest from investors.
"Right now we have a lot of runway room so we are just focusing on growing the business,” she said. “Indinero was started on $36,000 and it’s really amazing how far that got us in the beginning.”
Mah stressed that a little resistance only helps push startups forward.
“A lot of entrepreneurs wish they had a lot of money to invest it into their business,” she said. “But when you don’t have it, it forces you to think more about how to prioritize. I think that’s great, and I think every entrepreneur should go through that struggle.”
“I think other entrepreneurs give better advice and since we’re building a company that caters to other entrepreneurs, it just makes sense if our investors have that background,” said Mah.
Started last July, inDinero already has more than 15,000 paying customers. With no intention of selling anytime, the co-founders are looking to expand the business into a name other enterprises know and trust. And in the meantime, these Berkeley grads seem to be enjoying every second of starting up.
“We are all from the same computer class. We all know each other and we’re, you know, committed to more than a paycheck,” said Liu.
Six Shooter with Jessica Mah
1. What is your favorite quote and why?
“Run your company as if you weren’t allowed to sell if for 100 years”--Warren Buffett. I like it because it makes me think about the long term, not just the immediate future
2. What is the best and worst thing about building a startup?
Best: Being able to work with really passionate customers
Worst: not knowing the future
3. Why will inDinero succeed--and why will you succeed?
InDinero is solving real business problems for real business owners. It's a simple, straight-forward tool that any business owner can use.
As for me, every time I see inDinero in the news it’s a big blaring reminder not to screw up. I won’t let myself fail.
4. What is the key to getting investors to invest?
Get traction and customers to actually use your product and it will speak for itself
5. What’s harder: Living up to your own expectations or living up to those others have for you?
No question--living up to my own expectations
6. Who is your biggest source of inspiration?
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
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Christina is on Twitter @ChristinaScotti