Jessica Mah is a serial entrepreneur, starting her first internet business at age 12, co-founding inDinero at 19, and navigating a successful comeback story at the ripe old age of 24. As CEO of inDinero, she's empowering other startups and small businesses (up to the 100 employee mark or eight figures of revenue) with outsourced accounting and tax services.
Q: What does entrepreneurship mean to you, and what underlying characteristics do you see in successful entrepreneurs?
Jessica: It means blood, sweat and tears and joy and teamwork and throwing your whole self into your business so that your team can all be better off in their careers and in life. Being driven isn't enough; you have to possess a combination of quick, accurate decision making while tempering that with longer term, methodical patience. Everyone says you have to be ready to fail, but also be ready to fail fast. Especially in tech where seconds can be a lifetime, you need to try things aggressively and make the necessary pivots and changes on the fly.
Q: What are you most proud of in your professional career? If you could do something over in your life, what would it be?
Jessica: Making a Rocky Balboa style comeback! It was one thing to come up with an idea and get funding, but to rise back up from the flames after crashing; that took everything I had and I'll have that in my back pocket to call upon for strength for life. Doing something over, where do I start? Don't hire friends, don't read my own glowing headlines, don't take it for granted that customers are getting everything they want or dream of - the business list is long. Personally, I really skipped over the high school experience by going to Simon's Rock, so I regret not having those experiences - but they made me who I am today - so couldn't have missed too much!?
Q: Tell me about an instance where you had to go against the flow to realize your goal.
Jessica: Going against the grain is the crux of our comeback! When everyone in the VC and startup world was reading stories of Unicorns and scale-as-fast-as-you-can. We started off as purely a SaaS, "Mint.com for business" play at $99 a month, but customers wanted us to take their entire back office, off their plate, and would pay us to do it. Building a 30-year, full services accounting and tax and business couldn't have bucked more trends at the time, but was absolutely what we needed to stay relevant and start making customers love us again.
Q: What drives you?
Jessica: Let's face it, accounting and taxes; these words lack the sex appeal of virtual reality glasses or the latest Uber-for-whatever company popping up. However, if you want to run a successful business, you better be sure your accounting is on point or you won't even know you've gone out of business; how sad would that be, but happens every day. We decided to recreate the accounting and tax wheel sorta-speak. Typically a startup or small business is just trying to achieve compliance for their accounting and tax lives. That bar is way too low for us! inDinero makes sure that strategy, real CFO-level minds are digging through every bit of your accounting junk-drawer (we all have them and load them up for the CPA to sort out come tax time). With our full services team on your case, your back office starts to shine and becomes a business advantage for you so you can better fund, hire, know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em since you know what is up with every penny at any moment - that's inDinero and that's what's so exciting to build for small business owners everyday.
Q: If you were to give advice to your 22 year old self, what would it be?
Jessica: Take a vacation because that's over. Really, it's hard to give myself advice because all of the mistakes I made, allowed me to build myself back up stronger. But I guess if I had to choose one thing, three years ago I would have said, "hey you! Be-friend some ladies, socially and in business - they actually possess more and different attributes then the guys do, you'll find they are actually more helpful and not catty. The force is strong in women." I didn't realize this when I started out and I only hung out with or sought out guys for camaraderie and business advice and networking; boy was I surprised, pun intended.