How to Rescue Yourself From a Risky Setback

Guest: Jessica Mah, CEO and Co-Founder of InDinero

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Did you ever take a risk and then realize, “OMG, I am in too deep?”

But by the time you realized it, it was too late.

There was no time for a do-over.

You were stuck and really the only logical thing to do next was to throw in the towel and call it quits.

Or was it?

Well, in today’s episode of FemgineerTV, we’re going to tackle the topic of how you can rescue yourself from a risky setback.

And to help us out, I’ve invited Jessica Mah,the CEO and Co-Founder of InDinero. She has grown InDinero from zero to multimillion dollar revenues with nearly 200 full-time staff, and has been on the cover of Inc. Magazine, and featured in the Forbes and Inc. 30 Under 30 lists. Jessica studied computer science at UC Berkeley.

Jessica went from engineering to entrepreneurship right out of college, but it hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses for her.

She’s had to overcome a number of setbacks along the way, including being on the brink of bankruptcy!

She’s been kind enough to share her story openly with us, and as you watch the episode you’ll learn:

  • Why it’s important to set goals (but not too many!);
  • How to respond to those;
  • Why being direct with teammates and customers can help you work through a risky setback;
  • How partners can be helpful, and how to nurture those relationships to withstand setbacks; and
  • How you can feel fearless and confident, but how it’s like a gas tank and needs to be replenished.

If you’ve agonized over a significant setback, then I highly recommend watching this episode!

Listen to the episode on iTunes!

You can listen to this episode of FemgineerTV on iTunes. Please take a moment to leave us a review. Your positive review will help us get featured in News & Noteworthy and bring more exposure to the work we’re doing, as well as the talented guests we feature!

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How to Rescue Yourself From a Risky Setback: Transcript

Poornima Vijayashanker: Thanks for joining us today. I’m so excited to get started.

Jessica Mah: Yeah. No, I’m happy to be here.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. Your outfit looks amazing.

Jessica Mah: Thanks.

Poornima Vijayashanker: But I would say I have just one thing that I think would really make this outfit pop. Yeah. I’ve got a couple of these great Live Strong bands. I’ve got a blue one and an orange one. And, you know, if two isn’t enough then I’ve actually got a whole, you know, set.

Jessica Mah: Awesome. Thanks. I really appreciate it.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Welcome to the 18th episode of Femgineer TV, brought to you by Pivotal Tracker. I’m your host, Poornima Vijayashanker, the founder of Femgineer. In this show, I host innovators and together we debunk myths and misconceptions related to building products and companies. We often feel like we’re too young, inexperienced, or just unsure how to get started building our own product and companies.

But the truth is, it doesn’t matter how old or young you are. And to prove that, I’ve invited Jessica Mah, who is the CEO and cofounder of InDinero. Jessica started InDinero right out of college and she’s grown it from zero to millions in revenue. She’s been featured in Forbes and on the cover of Inc. magazine. And today, Jessica is going to share not only her journey from engineering to entrepreneurship, but the setbacks that she faced as she was growing InDinero.

So thanks for joining us today, Jessica.

Jessica Mah: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Happy to talk about all those things.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. So you and I met when I had been invited to speak at Berkeley’s computer science department back in 2009 to students.

Jessica Mah: Yeah.

Poornima Vijayashanker: And then shortly after, you decided to strike out after you graduated and start InDinero, but as I recall InDinero was not your first startup.

Jessica Mah: Yeah. I had worked on several businesses in college and in high school. None of them were really real businesses in any sense. Like, I didn’t have full-time staff. I had like low six-figure revenue on some of those projects, but they were like a great way for me to dip my feet in the water and see if the entrepreneurship world was meant for me.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. And what kind of lured you into startup land at such a young age?

Jessica Mah: I’d say like the excitement of building something new I really loved, and I never really imagined that I would be able to work for someone else. I just don’t like really following rules. I can be a little offensive at times and I didn’t think that I would be able to keep a real job.

I also worried that out of college I would work at like a Google or a Facebook and just get really comfortable and I wouldn’t be able to leave the posh lifestyle working there. So that was kind of my big fear, so I thought, well, hey, I’m like pretty poor out of college, like there’s nothing to lose, so that’s kind of how I decided to do it straight out.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. And while you were in college, did you worry at all about being too young or you would be with friends or what relatives would say about you going down this startup path?

Jessica Mah: I worried about it only a little bit. Friends were really supportive. I had some family, like my parents, who said, “How about grad school? How about you work at a big company for a few years just to know what it’s like?” And I think it’s good that I had that push and that pressure to not start a company right away because it really forced me to think this is something that I’m so excited about, where I would be willing to tell them, “No, I’m not going to go that route.”

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: And so at first it made me really think about it a lot more than I would have if they just said, “Yeah, just go for it. Sounds great.”

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. And were there any early learnings in those initial startups that you worked on in college that you used for InDinero?

Jessica Mah: I had a lot of learnings. Like, I worked on a few projects that all they were meant for was for me to like make money.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: And I realized that I never did a great job on those projects. And I didn’t make much money either. They were really bad.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. So you mentioned your family was kind of pushing you to grad school, but did you have any mentors who were pushing you to pursue a startup idea?

Jessica Mah: I didn’t have too many mentors who were pushing me in that direction. I think most people were anti-entrepreneurship that I ran into.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: A few were supportive when I told them that I was on my path already, but none were really pushing me that way. I’d say that I wasn’t great at finding mentors and mentorship in college. I felt like I wasn’t really deserving of that yet, and even today I struggle with that actually. Like I have been thinking about how I really should upgrade my mentorship base, and I always think, I’m not really qualified, I don’t really deserve the caliber of mentorship that I want.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Why?

Jessica Mah: It’s just that…it’s just been stuck in my head for all these years. I have to shake that off.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: But it’s something that I’ve been thinking about the past few weeks, so it’s kind of interesting how that never really never fades away.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. So let’s talk about InDinero. What inspired you to start it?

Jessica Mah: So InDinero in a nutshell, we’re helping businesses with all their accounting and all their taxes. So we replace the accounting team, the entire, like, full-time staff you’d have, or a bookkeeper, and we take care of all the back office for a company. And so I started that because in high school I was working at a business and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I tried to hire a bookkeeper, an accountant, and a tax person, and I was just really bad at managing my cash flow.

And I just thought how great would it be if there was a company out there that could just handle all of this for me. I don’t need to interview anyone. I don’t need to piece together my own solution. And it was an idea that I could get around; that I could be passionate about. It wasn’t just a money-making idea. It was an idea where I had experienced the pain myself and so that’s why I decided that I’d go this route.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK. So you were just scratching your own itch basically?

Jessica Mah: Yeah, exactly.

Poornima Vijayashanker: And what type of companies are ideal for InDinero?

Jessica Mah: It’s so wide-range. We have companies as small as one or two employees all the way up to hundreds of employees, tens of millions in sales.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: Mostly U.S.-based companies, so it’s a pretty wide spectrum.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. Now, you obviously experienced a number of setbacks. I know the first one you talked about was customers who just wanted to use the product for free and wouldn’t upgrade to the paid version, which is a pretty common startup problem. Why do you think that happened to you guys?

Jessica Mah: So, first of all, we had a product that was freemium, and it was free, and then if you wanted to pay more you could pay more. But with that…all right. I’ll get better. The numbers right now, they’re just the baseline and we’ll improve it. But we really didn’t set firm targets for, like, all right, we need it to go up to this by this date. And if you don’t put like these sort of, like, in customer account targets by certain dates, then you shouldn’t expand your team or we have to change our fundraising story.

And I did set those parameters very clearly. I didn’t define them at all. I didn’t really even have clear goals like that. It was really fundamental, so that’s kind of why we didn’t do a very good job, first of all. And second of all, we realized that everything was working and had to decide, all right, we have to lay off our team because we’re running out of money.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. So you…I remember you mentioned in your article that you were on the brink of bankruptcy. Is this kind of what led to that?

Jessica Mah: Yeah. Well, we were pretty much almost out of cash. And so I thought, OK, I’m pretty good at fundraising. I know how to ask people for money and I’m always afraid of it, so I was really afraid of it.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: Like I don’t really have good numbers to show for it.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: So I went around trying to get a deal done and everyone was just saying, “Hey, like this is not going to work out for you. Like, you don’t even have a real business right now. And so if you want to raise money beyond bad terms, and that’s if you were even able to raise it at all”—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. What do you mean by bad terms?

Jessica Mah: Like flat round, down round.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK. And that means the valuation of your company goes down?

Jessica Mah: Yeah, exactly. Honestly, so we just sell bigger and bigger chunk of our company and—

Poornima Vijayashanker: And lose control over the direction?

Jessica Mah: Yeah, you lose control and you lose…yeah, you lose ownership it would be really bad so we thought all right, even if you raise the money, even if I had like a $100 million sitting in my bank account, there is still no password. We’re still not on the right track.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: So that’s kind of what made me decide, all right, let’s just stop fundraising, let’s just start from scratch and rethink the entire thing from the ground up again.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK. So what did you do over commit for some of those steps that you took?

Jessica Mah: The first set was cutting out all my burn so—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. And how much was your burn at that point?

Jessica Mah: So it wasn’t that much in actual terms. We were burning like a million and a half a year back then.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Wow. OK. Yeah.

Jessica Mah: Now, like today, it’s like, all right, a hundred or a few grand is not now a whole lot for us any more, but back then it was a lot, that was like—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jessica Mah: It was…yeah.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Especially if you’re not making—

Jessica Mah: If you’re not making—

Poornima Vijayashanker: —it work for you.

Jessica Mah: Yeah. It was really, really tough. So we had conversations with each person and we said, “Hey, you’ve been great to us, but we just can’t afford you any more so please, like, go out and find a new job, we’ll help support you. But by the end of the year we have to move on.” And that’s really a tough conversation to have with everyone because they’ve been there from the beginning.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: So that was the first thing we did. So we put out all of our spend. And then the second thing we did was we started to recalibrate and think, all right, what can we build that will not just be a vitamin but also be a pain killer? And so I went around and I started talking to existing customers and prospective customers again. And the question was, “What would you be willing to pay a lot more money for, and why are you only paying us $20 a month, or why are you not paying us anything at all right now?”

Poornima Vijayashanker: And those were the specific questions you asked? You—

Jessica Mah: Yes.

Poornima Vijayashanker: —didn’t sugarcoat it?

Jessica Mah: No. I was—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: —fairly straight and to the point. I’m like, “Look, like you pay me $20, $40, right now; what could I do about it that would make you pay me like $3000?”

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: And I got some really great answers and I wished I had asked those questions straight up sooner. Like I’ve been trying to get the answer to that question but I never asked it that clearly and bluntly with people. And so yeah, I got great answers like, “OK, why don’t you guys just do all the work for me? Why is this a DIY product?” And it seems…all of this seems obvious in hindsight.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Sure.

Jessica Mah: But it wasn’t obvious at the time. So that was the feedback that I got and we acted on it. And we said, “OK, today InDinero is going to be premium only, no more freemium, and we’re going to charge $3000 a year on the low end.” So I did some competitive analysis. I called around to see what they would pay if they had hired a bookkeeper and an accountant and everything. And based on that, I started calling up all my friends and I started signing up my friends. And I’m like yes, we’re in business again. We got this scenario figured out and I started hiring people again, so we basically sweet and bootstrapped this.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Good.

Jessica Mah: Because we didn’t have money to—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. And what was the mental shift that you had to go through to ask those tough questions to your existing customers and to lay off your staff?

Jessica Mah: So I think it was a slow process actually. It wasn’t like an “ah-ha,” like I think I went through fundraising for like two months, realized that it was going to be a dry and not work out. And so I’m starting to lose hope and I had some conversations with other entrepreneurs, and I’m like, “What should I do?” Talk to some investors. My favorite is this guy named Steve Blank. He’s written some great books about how to find product-market fit. And he came to my office one day and he said, “Jessica, it’s not too late to change everything.”

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: And I was a little offended at the time. I didn’t really know what he believed in it, but then it kind of hit me a few days later and I realized, yeah, we’re not on the path. So each of these events kind of added up together. And one night I just had the breaking point and then I just decided, OK, you’ve got to take some swift action now. And I felt this feeling of relief when I knew, OK, we can have a second chance if we wipe the slate clean and tell everyone to find a new job and go back to like bare bone expenses. I felt really good about that.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: So that’s how I knew, all right, the next day I had to act on that.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK. Why not just give up, you know, go start another company?

Jessica Mah: Because it would be embarrassing.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: It would be horrible. Like, “Mom, I’m going to work at Yahoo now because I couldn’t get a job at Google and Yahoo, and I couldn’t spur my own company.” You know, like, that would just be really, really bad. And no, I couldn’t do that.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: I’d have figured out some way to make it work.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Good. So you’ve also mentioned that you and your co-founder have been to couples therapy even though you’re not romantically involved. Tell me a little bit more about why you decided to do this and how it’s helped.

Jessica Mah: Well, my co-founder and I are really good friends. Tonight we have our date night and so we’re roommates, so we live together actually, which is kind of cool. His girlfriend comes over too sometimes so I have another roommate now. And we were having a lot of trouble communicating. Like he would say things that would really tick me off and vice-versa.

And the relationship…the co-founder relationship is just so critical to get right. So it came down to, like, how do you move forward from here if you just…because we kept on struggling with that. And—

Poornima Vijayashanker: And what do you mean by…like were you…did you have feelings or things that you wanted to say and you were holding back, or did you let them out? What was kind of the tension?

Jessica Mah: I would be pretty blunt and straightforward. I would say like “This is like unacceptable what you did here.” And he wouldn’t really be able to move past that. And then he would say things that would just offend me where I’m just like that makes no sense at all. That’s not very good feedback I thought. And we would just kind of get into this back and forth that was unproductive.

So that’s when we said, all right, let’s go to Yelp and research marriage counselor. And so we found someone and went to a few sessions and it really helped us a lot.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: And you…yeah.

Poornima Vijayashanker: How do you think it helped?

Jessica Mah: Well, there were a lot of things that we realized that we forgot about.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: Like we prioritized our business relationship but we forgot about our friendship. And yeah, we lived like in the same apartment but like I’m traveling for work a lot. He’s traveling for work a lot, too. We never see each other. It’s pretty ridiculous.

And I have my own set of friends and, you know, I’m busy running the company and he’s got his own apartment. Which means we don’t even see each other during the workday any more even though we’re in the same company. It’s pretty silly. So that’s how we got to bring back our date nights, bring back some vacations and trips together, and just really rekindle that friendship. We have…so that was the first step.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: And then all the other learnings on communication were kind of built on top of that.

Poornima Vijayashanker: So it is very much marriage counseling for startup founders?

Jessica Mah: Yeah. And I thought a marriage counselor would be appropriate.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: I mean, it’s all but the same thing, right, at the end of the day.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Right.

Jessica Mah: Like, we care about each other, you want to help each other out, and so I was really happy that we did that. And I would recommend that to any other cofounder pairing as well.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. I know we’ve had the cofounders from Pop Up Archive, Ann Wootton and Bailly Smith, talk about communication, and they also had somebody come in and mediate a little and give them a framework so it’s great to hear that you’ve also gone down that path and it’s produced good results for you.

So we mentioned being on the brink of bankruptcy and you’ve turned that around and now you’re generating millions in revenue and have a 200-person team. Has there been a recent setback that you’ve experienced that you can share with us?

Jessica Mah: I think the biggest psychological setback right now is the fact that you’ve had all this, like, great success coming out of almost running out of money—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: —and so I kind of had this idea that, well, now everything will be great. Now it’s just like the next natural up into the right curve and everything is going to be perfect and fine and dandy. It ends up it’s actually not that case at all. And so then things just get more challenging but in a slightly different way.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: And I really struggled with the transition from doing everything myself to having a team of people who I could rely on and trust. I really…it took me like over a year and a half to kind of move in that direction.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Do you think any of that had to do with being an engineer and knowing how to do a lot of it and having that as a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day?

Jessica Mah: Yeah, exactly.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: You just feel so great about getting that, you know, all your tests are passed and checking that good, and then employing it. It’s that feeling of accomplishment that I no longer get to indulge in, and so how did I get around that. To be frank, I haven’t fully gotten over it.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: I’m still working on it.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: But now I have like a full team and we have like 200 people, and it’s like I can trust them to do a lot of the day-to-day, so now I kind of started to think how could I recalibrate my own role? How could I finish the way I think about my day-to-day and my work?

Poornima Vijayashanker: Mm-hmm.

Jessica Mah: And my solution there is I’m going to have more skip line meetings so I’m going to figure out what problems other people in the business are facing.

Poornima Vijayashanker: OK.

Jessica Mah: Roll it up to the executive team. I want to talk more to customers to figure out their problems. I want to talk to other mentors and advisors more to figure out how they could help us. And so I’m…so my feelings of gratification come from identifying more problems and making sure that someone is on top of it. So I’m just changing the way that I feel accomplished now.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. So even though there’s still challenges, you feel like you’ve got a handle on it versus before where maybe you felt a lot more lost and without any direction of where to go next.

Jessica Mah: Yeah, exactly. Before, I always felt overworked and I felt like there was just more to do. Now I feel like it’s up to me to figure out where the problems are and how to roll those problems into solutions so it’s like a completely different mindset.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: So it’s a big, big struggle, I mean, in my life of 15 billion other things, like building up like an executive leadership team. That’s something that I’ve only recently like learned how to do well. I did it in a very basic sense when we were 30 or 50 employees, but the caliber of talent that I was able to track when we only had a few dozen people wasn’t very high. I mean, it was like pretty good, but like you wouldn’t get the really big-hitting senior people who I’m now able to attract. And so every stage of the company’s growth I’ve been able to learn more and more about that which is pretty cool.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. And for those senior people that you’re trying to attract, are you ever concerned that they’re going to think that you’re too young or that you maybe aren’t experienced with this? How have you managed those conversations?

Jessica Mah: I don’t think that comes up too much—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Oh, good.

Jessica Mah: —at least in a direct way.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: And maybe, like, affecting me in that perhaps they have some subconscious bias against wanting to work with me—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Sure.

Jessica Mah: —which I totally understand and accept. But I think when I have more conversations with people and they see how I’m usually a pretty straight shooter and I just tell them how it is and what I’m thinking and I’m just supportive—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: —as a CEO I want to help them succeed, then they’re like, all right, this is someone that I can imagine working with.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: So that’s how I’m working around that. But I try not to think too much about that. I don’t think it’s all that productive.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. And you mentioned overwork, and I know for a lot of folks out there who are in the midst of building their startup, there is this desire to do everything—

Jessica Mah: Yeah.

Poornima Vijayashanker: —and more, and you can’t always do that because it doesn’t lead to good results and we burn out. How do you manage the overwork?

Jessica Mah: I’d say right now I’m actually in a pretty good place. Like I work really hard during the week but I take my weekends off.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Good.

Jessica Mah: It’s really cool.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: I didn’t do that at first. And now I don’t think if things, like, with the…I don’t have a to-do list per se. I have more of a priority list. I only have three top priorities at any given time, even three is a lot. I think most people in a company should have one priority. And so I’ve actually changed all the company goals in the company so that everyone only has one objective they’re fighting for each quarter. So we have have the OKR system that Google and Intel pushed forward, which basically is monthly and quarterly goal-setting. The problem with it is that there are too many goals.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: There are too many priorities, and most people can’t manage that cognitive load.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Right.

Jessica Mah: So I’ve simplified it down. I’m like each person, you have one objective. You have three key results, like three numerical goals that roll up into that objective, but still it’s just one goal at the end of the day.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: And that really simplifies everything in for me. I could juggle maybe two or three priorities at a given time, but no more than that. And so that’s my new form of task management. Less tasks, more priorities.

Poornima Vijayashanker: So some people say that you’re fearless. Is that true?

Jessica Mah: No, that’s not true.

Poornima Vijayashanker: No?

Jessica Mah: I have a lot of fear actually.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: Yeah. I’m actually…yeah, I go through waves. I’d say once a quarter I go through some internal crisis of sorts where I will call my coach, I call my therapist, I call my girlfriends, many of them run their own companies which is really awesome because then we could kind of then teach other. I would say that when I’m in my confident state, I’m like incredibly confident and I am fearless for like a very long time.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Sure.

Jessica Mah: But it’s like a gas tank. It kind of wears out and then you’ve got to replenish it.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: And I think everyone I know goes through that. No matter how fearless they seem, like, in front of a camera or when I see them with business associates, I get a taste of when they’re feeling scared too.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: It’s humbling.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Right.

Jessica Mah: I don’t like to talk about it very much though.

Poornima Vijayashanker: No, no. I’m glad…thank you for being so candid and sharing that with us and the viewers out there.

Jessica Mah: Yeah.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Now, I know on your weekends you said that you take time off. Do you have any favorite hobbies or interests?

Jessica Mah: Yeah. I mean I’m really into flying airplanes. It’s like my go-to thing.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Awesome.

Jessica Mah: So, yeah, this Saturday I’m taking out an airplane for the day. On Sunday, I’m like, I don’t know if I want to go yet—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: I just have a plane and I’m just flying around.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Nice. And what got you into flying?

Jessica Mah: I think I do it just like the freedom of being able to go up in the air whenever I want. And it’s also, like, you have to know, like, the engine. You have to know, like, how the plane works and you have to know, like, all these rules. And it kind of got me back into the engineering mindset of it, is when you’re going from developing and rating software to being like a CEO, you kind of lose sight of those details. And you’re not thinking on a technical level any more. Flying airplanes kind of gets me back to that because it wouldn’t be productive for me to write code and—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Right.

Jessica Mah: —do that again. So that’s…I think that’s the real reason why I’m so into it.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah. Awesome. Where is kind of the farthest you’ve flown to?

Jessica Mah: I’ve done nonstop here to…San Francisco to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Oh, wow. OK.

Jessica Mah: So that’s…yeah. I dream a lot about this. I mean, last night I had a dream about flying airplanes. It’s really bad.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: It’s too much.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Well, we need more female pilots out there so maybe that’s a second career after InDinero.

Jessica Mah: Yeah, I mean—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Very after InDinero. Yeah. So what’s next for you guys at InDinero?

Jessica Mah: So, I’d say we’re still trying to grow the business so we want to be able to help out every business with their accounting and taxes. And right now we can handle the small businesses, and mid-size good businesses, like a hundred trenched employees.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Mm-hmm.

Jessica Mah: But how do you really help these companies that a growing in the hundred-plus employee range? They have so many different problems.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: How about companies that have offices in other countries? How about companies that are in these other verticals we can’t support yet? So we’re trying to expand our reach right now.

Poornima Vijayashanker: That’s great.

Jessica Mah: So it’s fun. It’s exciting. Stressful at times, but I’m learning a lot and I think that’s like the most important thing that keeps me going. Like, am I learning? Did I learn a lot this week? If I learned a lot, it was a good week.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: Even if bad things happen, if I learn, that’s my measure of a successful week now.

Poornima Vijayashanker: No. I think that it’s a good measure and that’s going to translate to helping you out in the future as well.

Jessica Mah: Yeah, exactly.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Oh, wonderful. Well, do you have any final words of wisdom for our viewers out there?

Jessica Mah: Yeah. I’d say like I love to read so I really…I wish that more of my entrepreneur friends, like, set aside time to read. I try to read like two books a week so that’s over hundred books a year.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah

Jessica Mah: I really encourage that. Having a mastermind group, I really wish I was part of one earlier so there was like an entrepreneurs organization, there’s a CEO roundtable, the stage for IPO; there are so many organizations for that but I wish I had got involved in that a lot sooner. So anyone who’s trying to work on a company, surround yourself with a diverse base of people. Not just tech people—

Poornima Vijayashanker: Yeah.

Jessica Mah: —and if you’re suffering in the software field, don’t speak to software people. Like, find other people running other businesses too that I get mentorship from.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Great. Well, thank you so much, Jessica, for joining us today.

Jessica Mah: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Poornima Vijayashanker: Sure. And thanks to all of you viewers out there for tuning in today and special thanks to our sponsor, Pivotal Tracker, for their help in producing this episode of Femgineer TV. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, then please share it with your friends, your teammates, and your boss and subscribe to Femgineer’s YouTube channel to receive the next episode. Ciao for now.

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