Jessica Mah: InDinero CEO and Co-founder
Jessica Mah, 20, created InDinero.com with close friend and business partner, Andy Su, to address that exact issue. InDinero is an innovative platform that makes financial tracking easier for small businesses (think Mint.com, but for small businesses instead of individuals). By the summer of 2009, the company raised over $1 million from angel investors.
“I’m really passionate about the idea of helping people manage their money because money is one of those things where people just focus on making it, but you don’t spend that much time on figuring out how to best manage it,” Mah said. “I know that business owners are the most guilty for that, so we thought, ‘Okay, we know it’s a big problem, but is there anything out there solving it?’ ”
Unlike existing accounting software tailored toward figuring out how much money you’ve made and meeting tax guidelines, InDinero focuses its features toward business owners.
Mah, the CEO of InDinero, graduated last year from UC Berkeley at the early age of 19. Now, she’s focusing all of her energies on her startup to continually improve and grow the company, and make it the best that it can be.
“My job, which at first was just trying to build a good product, has now become figuring out from customers what they’re looking for, and communicating that information back to my team,” Mah said. “So it’s more theoretical, you just have to talk to a bunch of people, and learn more about how businesses manage their money and make sure that it ends up in the product somehow.”
Mah also had to face a number of challenges in order to get InDinero started. Some investors didn’t believe in their idea, while others didn’t understand it. On top of that, she was still a college student, so she faced doubters who believed she was too young to build a business.
Nevertheless, Mah pushed onward and decided to focus instead on the product itself and getting customers. By continually and tirelessly improving the product and also actively getting more business owners to sign up for InDinero, the company was able to spread its reach. In September 2010, approximately 2,500 businesses were signed up on InDinero. Today, over 10,000 have signed up.
Though Mah is only 20-years-old, she’s not a newcomer to the world of entrepreneurship. She started a web design company at 13, and at 18 she founded InternshipIN, an internship listing service. Clearly, age hasn’t been an issue for her.
“The way to get around [being young] is to just make friends with other entrepreneurs, and you’ll quickly learn what advice matters and what advice doesn’t,” she said.
When Mah isn’t working hard on building version two of InDinero, she loves to read up on her business heroes (such as investor Warren Buffet and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh), play video games (Grand Theft Auto) and explore new places during the weekends with close friends. While her work is important, she makes sure that she has a life as well.
“I think a lot of entrepreneurs try to work too hard, like 100-hour weeks, and it’s unhealthy,” Mah said. “I really think you should take that Saturday off and don’t touch your computer if you really want to be productive.”
As for what lies ahead for her, she said for now, it’s all about InDinero and helping others successfully manage their money.
“I have no personal goals other than to make InDinero as successful as possible,” Mah said. “For everyone on our team, we’re not in it to make money. We just really want to help other entrepreneurs.”
To read more on what Mah’s up to, follow her on her personal blog.