Jessica is definitely another young entrepreneur to keep on your radars for years to come; haven started her first internet company at the age of 13, finishing high school at the age of 15, She has then started her first notable company internshipIN.com, which has since helped thousands of college students find their first internships, then to founding her new company Indinero, which she started when she met co-founder Andy Su at the University of California, Berkeley while studying computer science during when they built Indinero’s first prototype, the rest is now history has they say.
Hello Jessica, how are you doing? Great to have you here on YHP
Glad to be here!
I mean starting a business as a 13 year old must have been very exciting for you? How do you feel you have developed from that little girl starting her internet company till now?
I think the most important thing I learned since then has been humility. I know that I'm constantly learning, and being that I'm still relatively young and inexperienced in the world, I'm trying to figure out what I don't yet know.
What inspired you to start a business, especially as a 13 year old?
I thought it'd be fun! Middle school can be stressful, boring, and full of drama. So I thought focusing my time and energy on something more productive would take my mind off the less meaningful things in life. (aka, school)
You said you’re working full time on Indinero.com, Does that mean you are not playing any part in the running of internshipIN.com?
I stopped running internshipIN last January. It was a fun side project, but by no means a business I wanted to devote myself fulltime to. I still keep the server running in case students are still looking for internships. And many still are!
Who would you say has been a major influence in your business life?
I'd say my mom. She's an entrepreneur too, and her advice has been key to my development. Unlike anyone else I ask for advice from, mom gives me the candid feedback that I need to hear most.
On your blog, you said that if you have could pick one question in hiring a business person, you would talk about the conflict in the Middle East? So Jessica, let’s just say i was hiring you about a job position in my company and i asked you that question? How would you respond?
I'd have to write a long essay on that! The point of talking to people about politics is to learn how they interact with you during a debate. Do they try to listen, are they making assumptions based on opinion, do they negotiate? These are pretty important things to know before you hire a business person.
Who is your favourite young entrepreneur at the moment?
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. A lot of people critique him for his business decisions, but he knows who's worth taking advice from.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
My team - Andy, Arielle, and Ljuba keep me motivated day in and day out. I also think about how it took companies like Microsoft and Twitter years before they hit critical mass. Businesses don't explode overnight, so persistence is key.
Do you have a favourite business tool or resource?
My favorite resource is Paul Graham's archive of essays. They teach you the ins and outs to entrepreneurship and technology, and tell young founders what they need to know instead of the meaningless things that most business books teach.
Where do you see in yourself and your business in the next 5 years?
I hope to be still working on Indinero. We have a lot of great things planned for Indinero and the future of business software, but it's all speculation for now.
What is the most crucial decision you’ve made so far regarding your business?
The decision to come back to school was pretty difficult. Andy and I were on the edge of leaving before our senior year here at Berkeley, but we ultimately decided to give this entire year to figuring out our business and finishing up our degrees.
What’s your biggest distraction?
School. Between classes and homework, it takes up a lot of time. But on the other hand, it's definitely taught me how to better manage my time, and focus on the things that matter most.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I'd say Apple, and not just because I enjoy their products. They operate in small and agile teams, their product development team takes a lot of time perfecting core features instead of creating new ones, and they think more about user experience than any other company in the industry.
What are your views on young entrepreneurs that quit school/college for the sake of pursuing a dream of a young entrepreneur?
It's a huge decision. Most young entrepreneurs have the problem of "not knowing what they don't know", so they don't realize what value they might be missing out from finishing college. It's a very personal decision, and it highly depends on what college the entrepreneur is attending.
What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur starting up their business?
Do as much as you can to learn about entrepreneurship faster and sooner. Start your business as soon as possible, and make it be the driving force behind your education.
Thanks for your time Jessica.