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EPISODE 9: The No A🤐🤐hole Rule (w/ Financial Services CEO Jess Mah)

The Startup Stack
EPISODE 9: The No A🤐🤐hole Rule (w/ Financial Services CEO Jess Mah)

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Jess Mah is a wunderkind. She started the company that would become inDinero while still an undergrad at UC Berkeley. The team was young, scrappy and smart — with hundreds of mistakes ahead of them. It would be years until the financial services outfit hired their first accountant. 

Almost a decade later the company has become an undeniable force in the industry, with clients including Pinterest and Slack.  

Louis talks with Jess about the decade she spent building (and rebuilding) inDinero, the challenges and benefits of being a young founder, what happened to all those small business stimulus checks, and — yes — the future of financial services.  

“I went through an exercise in April of this year. I revisited my commitment to have fun with my business. I started a business because I wanted to help entrepreneurs with a problem, but I also wanted to enjoy having a workplace I liked. I had to get back to that.”

Jess Mah

🎙 Highlights Include

  • A terminology breakdown: What is a CFO, a controller, an accountant? 
  • Advice for hiring a financial services company
  • Jess’s story of building inDinero, including her “no a**holes” policy 
  • inDinero’s response to the pandemic & financial roadmapping 

This Week’s Guest

Episode 9: The “No A**hole” Rule (w/Financial Services CEO Jess Mah)

Jess Mah

Founder & CEO @ inDinero

Jess Mah is the founder & CEO of inDinero, which she launched from her undergrad dorm room in 2010. She’s since been featured in Forbes and Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Lists. 

The Startup Stack’s Host
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is louis-1024x1002.png

Louis Beryl

CEO, Co-Founder of Rocketplace

Rocketplace is a curated marketplace of high quality professional service providers. A 3x founder, investor, and board member, Louis began his tech career as a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. When he’s not working or podcasting, Louis enjoys cooking for his family. His pizza, he’d like you to know, is incredible. 

Full Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Louis Beryl: How does Santa’s accountant value his sleigh?

[00:00:05] Jess Mah: Oh, wow!  How?

[00:00:07] Louis Beryl: The net present value? Boom!

[00:00:10] Jess Mah: Badum ching. I love that. [Laughing] I’ve never heard that one before. I love accounting jokes and this definitely comes out of the top of my list. I love it.

[00:00:18] Louis Beryl: This week we’re talking to my old friend and wonderkind entrepreneur, Jess Mah. Jess launched  inDinero an accounting software startup 11 years ago from her dorm room. And unlike most of my mainly sober undergraduate ventures, Jess’ company had staying power. They raised funding, hired a ton of actual accountants onto their staff and have grown a lot. It wasn’t always easy. In fact, Jess is pretty honest about the rough bits, but she pushed through. And today inDinero is an undeniable force in the industry with clients like Pinterest and Slack. I asked Jess what it was like to literally grow up while running a company, the unexpected benefits of it and the lessons she [00:01:00] learned along the way. Also she’s a financial genius and played ball when I asked her to break down all the accounting terms most of us pretend to understand but don’t. Plus, COVID financial planning and so much more.

[00:01:12]I wanted to ask you about the beginnings of inDinero. So I know you started this coming out of college out of your dorm room. Walk me through how you could start this company. I mean, what experiences did you have? How did you know there were problems the industry?  What were you thinking and how did it work?

[00:01:30]Jess Mah: Yeah. So I started inDinero 10 years ago now, which is mind boggling to think about. Right after college. And I studied computer science in college no prior background in accounting, but I had started other businesses in college in high school. And I just thought that accounting and business taxes were utterly painful. Just so annoying to deal with. I felt like so many accountants were really old school. [00:02:00] No technology, no real best practices, doing a lot of their work manually. And I also felt as a business owner, working with accountants getting the insights into my business that I needed. I was getting books done I wasn’t getting insights into how to run a better business and what are the pitfalls to look for? You know I was looking for more of a strategic partner in my account not just a number cruncher accountant, and I thought software could do a lot better of a job doing a lot of that   . I was a little cocky at first. I thought software could just automate the accountants profession. 

[00:02:36] Louis Beryl: What was really hard at getting started?   

[00:02:39] Jess Mah: There are so many challenges with getting started. I mean at first we had to figure out the tech challenges of downloading your bank statement and credit card statement information automatically. And in 2010, most of the banks do not have APIs and they didn’t have a way for you to export data in an elegant [00:03:00] manner. So we were getting PDF statements and we’d have to figure out how to transcribe that. And we were doing screen scraping. I mean, these were the  early days of FinTech.

[00:03:09]Louis Beryl: I remember those days.

[00:03:11]Jess Mah: Oh my God. I mean, it’s, it was not that long ago. Now that’s not a big challenge. You gotta get over those early hurdles the first few years. 

[00:03:19] Louis Beryl: Few  Says that, you know, your mission is to provide value to every business in the world. So what exactly do you mean by that? 

[00:03:26] Jess Mah: You know, a lot of these small businesses they are going off gut-feel . They’re working off of financials from an accountant or a bookkeeper but they don’t have someone like an experienced CFO or operator of a company tell them what they could do better or differently. And so our goal is to help businesses, have better insights into their operations into their business how they’re doing to prevent a lot of the pitfalls and mistakes that I’ve had with running my businesses, and provide that value that you’re not going to get from a bookkeeper.   

[00:03:58]Louis Beryl: What’s your sweet spot for [00:04:00] clients?  When does a client ready to work with inDinero? And is there a point when they need to kind of grow out of working with you? I mean, you mentioned Slack and Pinterest before, you know, so there must be some point. 

[00:04:11] Jess Mah: We work with companies as small as one or two employees so they could be really small. And so our prerequisite is you gotta be incorporated, have online banking, and credit card access set up. We’ve been really working to prolong our lifespan with the customer. The problem with a lot of bookkeepers, including the early version of inDinero was that we would be outgrown as soon as you hit like 40 or 50 employees. And you, then you need to hire a full-time accountant, because the sophistication was just too high. And the problem with that is that it drove customers nuts. It’s so much work to have to offload from one accounting solution onto another and bring on new team members to wrap their mind around the business. So my [00:05:00] goal from I’d say 2015 to 2018, I worked really hard to figure out how do we handle companies all the way until they’re even pre-public. Now the problem is we have customers are growing us when they’re, thinking about going public soon or when they’re, you know, raising their $300 million mega growth rounds. We’re trying to fix for that now. So, we’re looking at actually doing an acquisition to bring on an entity that works with companies that are already public even.  

[00:05:27]Louis Beryl: So how did you meet your co-founders? What was the early team like?

[00:05:30]Jess Mah: Yeah, the early team was mostly other computer scientists out of UC Berkeley. We didn’t have an accountant on our staff at that point. We were working with a bunch of accountants as our partners who we would 

[00:05:44] Louis Beryl: Wait wait wait. So you started in accounting company, but there’s no accountants on your staff ?

[00:05:48] Jess Mah: That is correct.

[00:05:50] Louis Beryl: How do you even know what to do first?

[00:05:52]Jess Mah: I mean, candidly, it was really tough. You had to interview a ton of accountants and we had to have them sitting right next to us to help us design the [00:06:00] tool. 

[00:06:00] Louis Beryl: Oh your co-founder wasn’t an accountant ? 

[00:06:02] Jess Mah: Oh no. He was also computer scientist. And so years later maybe now 2012, we finally hired a few full-time accountants onto our team. And we said, you know what, we’re going to actually do the accounting and follow the taxes for our customers. We are going to be an end-to-end full accounting software plus service. And so that was the start of why we hired accountants. And the benefit was that we got to see them do all the work from front to back and design a solution with them in mind. Instead of just calling someone who has their own practice who doesn’t work for us.

[00:06:42]Louis Beryl: The team is much bigger now. So tell me a little bit about the transition of what the business was like in 2012  and what the business is like today.  What’s changed? 

[00:06:53]Jess Mah: Well, the businesses at a lot bigger scale today, we have about 300 employees. We are [00:07:00] you know, all over the US. We have served at companies such as Slack and Pinterest among many other notable names. And so we just have a ton more experience on how to do this.   e were structured for scale in a way that in the early days we were just like cowboys in the desert trying to figure out what to do.  And today we’ve shifted our put strategy to. At first, we were directly competing with QuickBooks. My thought was we could do a better job, so let’s just build our own complete software solution that does the accounting controls the general ledger and provides the dashboarding. We sit on top of them. We see them as a partner and not a partner not a competitor. 

[00:07:41]Louis Beryl: How did you make that transition? What did you realize? 

[00:07:44] Jess Mah: Well, we had a lot of customers saying I really want to be on QuickBooks. We also were partnered with accounting firms and their customers were already on QuickBooks. So the idea of  putting them over from one software to another it was just like so much burden and [00:08:00] overhead that we evolved our strategy. And also we had accountants and our company saying he just like, you know, we haven’t raised hundreds of millions of dollars in capital.  We actually built this business really organically with a good amount of Angel Capital. And we got to watch every penny. Intuit spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on R&D. Let’s let them do what they do best and not duplicate their efforts. And then we’ll do other things that they don’t do.

[00:08:26] Louis Beryl: Yeah, that makes sense. Speaking of names, how’d you come up with inDinero. 

[00:08:30] Jess Mah: Yeah. I needed a name that was  

[00:08:36]Quick aside, if you want to learn more about buying domain names, we actually talked to one of the world’s foremost domain name brokers on another episode of the startup stack. His name is bill Sweetman and he’s great. Check out that interview when you’re done with this one, it’s in our feed. 

[00:08:49]  Jess Mah: But I mean, inDinero there’s just isn’t money. Dinero is money in Spanish and I just thought it was cute and we stuck with it and I still love the name.

[00:08:57] Louis Beryl: I do. I love the name. It’s great. I mean, it’s, [00:09:00] basically become a household name. Let’s talk a little bit about kind of running your company today. I know you have offices all over the world. At this point you just said 300 people. What are some of the challenges with running the organization today? Both the scale you have with multiple offices with COVID.  

[00:09:16] Jess Mah: We’ve had so many challenges along the way.  I try to be super authentic about it because running a business is not easy. Right. For us, I think our first big challenge when we first started the business and this is widely shared about uh, if you just do a search for i Dinero. Our first business model just didn’t work out. We were building a software that was a finance dashboard really targeted for sole proprietors. And a lot of them just weren’t willing to pay for our solution. So we ran out of all the funding we had raised. About a million dollars and change and started completely from scratch and bootstrapped the Indinero that we have today, which is full-service accounting and [00:10:00] tax solution for businesses. A few years in to doing that. so probably 2015, 2016 we just scaled out way too quickly. I mean, I hired dozens and dozens of extra sales reps and accountants and people who, just weren’t cost-effective. We were just burning cash and we were getting good top line growth, but it was just so unprofitable the type of growth we were getting. And my thought was all right. If we just grew like this, we could go out, raise money to cover up those problems. I didn’t consciously think about it that way, but I thought we’ll just optimize the model and do a better job over time. You know, it kind of dawned on me that I didn’t want to run a business that way. So, we had to do a decent sized layoff.  We probably laid off 40-50 people, at that point, got to profitability almost immediately. And it kind of taught me this lesson of really understanding the underlying, not just, [00:11:00] long-term profitability of hiring salespeople, but also what’s the cashflow, right? Like I got to eat my own dog food with inDinero here where everyone talks about this concept of ah CAC > LTV ratio. And so for those who don’t know, it’s the cost of acquisition. How much does it cost you to acquire a customer rel relative to what’s the lifetime value of a customer? And people say, Oh, my CAC to LTV ratio is whatever, 5x or 10x. Meaning over the lifespan of a customer you’re going to make 5x more or 10x more than what you’re paying an advertising or sales to get that customer. The problem is what if the return, the payback period, just to offset your cost of acquisition takes you a year to get there two years to get there or three years to get there. Sure, you might have a good ratio, but you’re just burning so much cash along the way. And that’s what was happening to us. We thought we had a great, a great CAC > LTV ratio and it was, it was just didn’t work on a reasonable timeframe. You know, learned a lot with that. 

[00:11:59] Louis Beryl: You’re [00:12:00] talking about laying off people, but getting the profitability is that the moment? Because you must’ve been in a pretty dark place letting 50 people go, but then you get to profitability. Was it there that you’re like, actually this business is going to work? Or when did it finally click for you?

[00:12:15]Jess Mah: Yeah, it’s funny. I’m not sure if it’s ever fully clicked.  I first knew in 20…

[00:12:20] Louis Beryl: Said like, said like a classic entrepreneur, just living in fear every day.

[00:12:24]Jess Mah: Pretty much, but I mean, back in 2012, I knew I’d figured out the business model. I knew that we’d have bumps along the way, but fundamentally the idea was sound, the concept was sound. Even if we made mistakes, it would still work out. And, you know, we’ve had our bumps along the road, but they’re all adjustable problems. One thing one of my mentors, Steve Blank, he taught at Berkeley, he taught at Stanford . And he wrote this amazing book called “The Four Steps To The Epiphany”. I highly recommend it. Uh, “The Startup Owner’s Manual” is another book he more recently published, which talks about how to [00:13:00] validate that you have a business that’s actually solving a real need. You’re not prematurely scaling your business. And he teaches that in his books. And, uh, with me, you always said, look, Jessica the problems you have, you can, you can fix them. They’re retractable issues. It’s not like you’re dead. Or that’s the end of the world. And I think as entrepreneurs, the big problem for us is that we have so much stress, so much fear about our businesses. We lose sight of what got us into it in the first place. You know, even for me during COVID, I had some people on my team. I really didn’t like. I thought they were really unpleasant to work with. Like pretty much every company, we decided to look at our team and look at right-sizing our costs. So I went through another exercise. I don’t know, in April of this year, I revisited my commitment to have fun with my business. I started a business, sure because I wanted to help entrepreneurs and business owners with a problem, [00:14:00] and I wanted to enjoy having a cool workplace. And I wasn’t having fun, not because I didn’t like the problems I was solving, but because I didn’t like the people I was working with or not all the people. And I think that’s the other learning  I wish I thought more about along the way. I wish I had a strict your tolerance, not only to assholes. Everyone says they have a smear tolerance, asshole rule, but people don’t take seriously as zero tolerance to people they don’t like rule. 

[00:14:28]Louis Beryl: It’s s, mature and smart that you say that. You know, Rocketplace is my third company, but you know, as I transitioned from Earnest to Rocketplace, a lot of what I spent time thinking about was not about what company it was going to build, but how I was going to build it. You know, the types of things you’re talking about, who do I want to work with and how do I want to operate with them every day? Because these are the people you’re going to be spending practically all your time with. And so I think it’s, I think it’s really insightful. 

[00:14:53]Jess Mah: Yeah. And I mean, the fact that you’ve done this three times over, it’s cool. How each time, I’m sure you’re making, [00:15:00] fewer mistakes and you’re not repeating and doing the same thing over again. 

[00:15:02] Louis Beryl: Yeah, I keep losing my job and having to start other companies to get a new job.

[00:15:06]Jess Mah: Oh, my God. That’s so funny. It’s cool because like, as you’re scaling up a business, you have a different job every 12 to 18 months, I think. I, I also try to put two hats on, right. I’ve got the entrepreneur hat , Jessica, who’s working in the business she is the CEO. And then I’ve got the investor owner hat where I try to say, okay, try to objectively evaluate how good of a job is Jessica doing as CEO? Would I fire her? Would I promote her? Would I give her a raise? How good of a job is she actually doing? And so I’ve I actually fired myself where I sit. All right, well, it’s current Jessica’s fired. I like try to recalibrate and think, okay, like, let’s say now I was going to come in as the interim new CEO, what would I do differently that this Jessica moron is not doing? If you ask yourself that question, you actually come up with some really interesting insights and thoughts that are [00:16:00] non-obvious. 

[00:16:00] Louis Beryl: I love that idea about firing yourself. That’s great. 

[00:16:03] Let’s talk a little bit about into Nero as specifically. let’s say there’s a. An entrepreneur out there and they’re thinking about hiring a firm. what are the questions that they should forget about engineer for a second? Just give advice to the entrepreneur what are the questions that they should be looking at when they’re thinking about hiring an accountant hiring, uh, a CFO, CFO, . Should they work with a company like yours, or maybe go find a full-time person? What should they be asking themselves? 

[00:16:27]Jess Mah: I think they should  ask what are the flags in my business based on my financials that I might want to look out for. I think they should actually ask for advice on their business and see how a company like in and out or whoever else can actually solve for that. And what you’ll find is that some people they’re just number crunchers. They can’t actually answer that question. Um, also say, Hey, how do I compare to other companies in my industry or space? Because you want to work with a firm or a company [00:17:00] that has a lot of other experience with similar companies, so they could say, Hey, other companies performing better on X, Y, or Z metrics compared to you. And they have that perspective. Um, I think a lot of, potential customers overweight, cost as a factor. They might try to save some money, but it’s just not worth it. You get so much more value out of investing in having the right partner. And I think the same thing with lawyers 

[00:17:26] Louis Beryl: yeah. Can we do a little inDinero one-on-one for a second? Cause we’re throwing out all these terms where we were using accountant and bookkeeper and CFO. Are those all the same thing or what’s the difference? 

[00:17:39]Jess Mah: They’re pretty different. So I think about it in a continuum, just like how, in a law firm you’ve got, you’re starting with the associate who might be fresh out of college. Right. And then you got a partner and then he got a managing partner. I mean, with like with accounting, it’s very similar where a bookkeeper. They don’t have, they’re not licensed per se. [00:18:00] They’re, a number crunching. and so a bookkeeper or a staff accountant is like the lowest level accountant. Then you’ve got accountant or perhaps controller.

[00:18:11] Louis Beryl: What’s a controller ?

[00:18:12] Jess Mah: I think about controller is like a senior accountant. You could kind of say that’s somewhat interchangeable, and they can provide more strategic value to your business.  They’re not just number crunching they’re actually looking at your business to figure out what are the gaps, what are the things that you need to think through? A CFO, a Chief Financial Officer, they’re the most senior and they’re truly strategic. They can help you raise capital. Think about your planning for your board meetings. They’re going to help manage your board and investor relations. They’re going to help you think about your business model at a more, fundamental strategic level. Whereas the controller’s still more. Thinking about things from a financial perspective. You know, every company needs all three in order to be successful.  I’d say we don’t see [00:19:00] companies hiring a full-time CFO until they’re at least 50, 

[00:19:06] And is that really the reason to work with a company like inDinero? Because, a young company, I can’t really hire all these people all the way up through a CFO, but actually some of the work I need is from a controller. Some of the advice I need is from someone who’s got CFO experience, and now I can get some of that experience up and down the stack without having to go out and hire all those people. 

[00:19:26]That was exactly the intent of inDinero to make it super easy to just slot in inDinero and then, in an arrow would just give you exactly what you needed. And I’m seeing that firsthand. I’ve got a company I’m on the board of and they needed accounting help. And what then basically three days we got the whole accounting situation figured out and slotted in a contracting CFO. And it it’s just like so seamless. I thought it’d be really tricky to do that one. When I first started inDinero, I was hiring a bookkeeper, then I was [00:20:00] finding a part-time CFO. And then I was finding a tax person separately, and I had to manage all of these different relationships. You know, that complexity inspired me to try to simplify things. 

[00:20:12]   When you have a new client, are there big things that you’re walking them through? Are there common pain points that. Practically all your new clients have ?

[00:20:20] One of the biggest pain points a lot of our, our clients have is that they don’t have a great financial model. They have a really weak, unsophisticated cashflow model that doesn’t take into consideration all the nuances of their business; seasonality, all the forecasted hires they’re going to bring in . They’ve just got something very basic and it’s kind of the first thing that I think everyone has to button up because that’s what you’re using as the, basis for navigating your business. Every time I’ve had a weak financial model even if it’s just for a month or two, I make the wrong decisions as a CEO.

[00:20:54] Louis Beryl: Is that one of the services that you provide? Because I could imagine you’re saying that, and maybe there are entrepreneurs out there that [00:21:00] are like, Oh my gosh, how do I even build a financial model?

[00:21:03] Jess Mah: Yeah, we do provide that when I first started inDinero we didn’t, and I suffered greatly as an entrepreneur as a result. And then I thought, all right, I got to solve this for inDinero, and then we’re gonna offer it to our customers. So it’s funny how everything with inDinero it’s really solving for a problem I’ve had as an entrepreneur. And now that we’re growing and we’re, you know, we’re working with pre-public or public companies and we’re, you know, moving into this more seasoned territory where we might even outgrow inDinero, I’m thinking how do I solve for that? So it’s  cool t o do all that.

[00:21:37]Louis Beryl: I mean, I’m doing the exact same thing. A lot of, a lot of entrepreneurs are solving the problems that they have as entrepreneurs. So I think it’s really smart. Let’s talk about the world, you know, we’ve got tons of interesting things going on .  We’ve got COVID, I’m sure your business has changed with that and, and that’s probably affected a lot of your clients. We’re just post-election now, there’s, tons of conversations around Black Lives Matter [00:22:00] and racial inclusion. What has been changing for you and your clients, and what are some things that you see changing into the future? 

[00:22:07]Jess Mah: One of the biggest things I’m noticing, and this was kind of a trend before COVID, but especially because of COVI.  A lot of companies are moving towards more extreme levels of outsourcing I would say. What that means is before COVID  you think, okay, I might out source my accounting. I might outsource my legal but now people are moving towards having variable workforce is all around. So even with product managers, software engineers, marketing people, normally you think as a company, oh, I got to hire for that expertise in-hour. 

[00:22:41] Louis Beryl: Shameless Rocketplace plug. We help you find all of those services. So… 

[00:22:45]Jess Mah: Well, exactly. You’re solving a real problem. It’s just ridiculous how it was just like frowned upon to not have that how much skill you have as a company? Oh, I have X employees. I have a full HR department. I have a whole marketing department, [00:23:00] right? Like a lot of people like to be able to see that for some reason, but it’s just like not the direction. I think the world is moving. 

[00:23:06] Louis Beryl: Yeah, I agree. We got very comfortable from having outside services. Maybe it started with legal and then maybe as businesses like inDinero formed with accounting, et cetera. But yeah, we’re seeing that more in HR, certainly very common recruiting. Teams are constantly being supplemented in software dev and design. So, maybe we could talk for a minute about small businesses in this environment. Are you seeing a real mix or what’s been the trend with everything that’s going on with the pandemic? 

[00:23:32] Jess Mah: Well, we have many hundreds of customers who ended up getting the stimulus money from the government. We’ve also had our fair share of customers who have completely gone out of business, and what I’ve noticed is that most of our customers are not blue collar. They’re not in hospitality or in restaurants or dining or, you know, the hotel or travel business. So they’ve been fairly resilient through all [00:24:00] of this. With that said, pretty much all are across the board, going remote, getting rid of office spaces. And then also going into what I told you earlier on extreme outsourcing. Although everyone was really scared early on and we gave every customer a contingency planning . If you’re one of our customers, you’ve got to plan for an economic adjustment. Like when you’ve never seen before. Like who are the people you’re going to cut what are the costs you’re going to cut? And we had all of our customers go through a session with our team members to plan it out. 

[00:24:30] Louis Beryl: And when was this? 

[00:24:30] Jess Mah: This was like March or early April. 

[00:24:33] Louis Beryl: Yeah. That’s amazing that you did that. I mean, so smart and so valuable. 

[00:24:37] Jess Mah: It was super valuable. And even though a lot of them didn’t necessarily need to fall through with it. A lot of them did anyway, because that was what the planning and the exercise of it. Maybe made these companies think what’s truly critical for my business. 

[00:24:50] Louis Beryl: Did you get pushback from some of those businesses that like, this sounds really extreme. 

[00:24:55] Jess Mah: Oh, no people were scared. So there was no pushback. Uh, it was [00:25:00] more, you know, gratitude. And I think, now we’re going to see companies going through that habit of having that contingency planning all the time. It’s more like disaster readiness. And I think a lot of us were just kind of resting on our laurels or just planning for growth, but we weren’t disaster ready before COVID. Because the last downturn, I mean, this was 2008-2009 that we really suffered. 

[00:25:23] Louis Beryl: It’s been a long time.

[00:25:23] Do you have a prediction for growth in 2021? 

[00:25:26] Jess Mah: four in an Laughing] 

[00:25:28] Louis Beryl: The economy generally. I mean, you’re touching so many of these businesses. 

[00:25:32] Jess Mah: I’m pretty optimistic. I’m super, super optimistic. The vaccine is going to come at. And I think we’re going to be okay. All the white collar businesses we service are doing fairly well. Um, some have had to make minor adjustments but I think all of them are going to come out fantastically well.

[00:25:49] Louis Beryl: Yeah. So one of my last questions, if you could go back to when you were first starting inDinero right out of college, what advice would you give yourself? 

[00:25:56] Jess Mah: I would give myself the [00:26:00] advice that even though I’m going to make tons of mistakes and hate myself for every mistake I make and I’m willing to be super stressed out and worry about my viability as a business owner, it would all be okay. It would all work itself out and there was nothing I needed to be truly truly, truly like losing sleep, stressed out about. And to really treat business more as a game to be played and to be enjoyed. I think   I was, way too goal oriented as a business owner and I was no longe in the present and in flow state doing what I do as an entrepreneur. I lost sight of that. and I put everything on a report card. Right. I think having investors doesn’t help that because you want to make your investors happy. I’ve raised $30 million from investors now. And, uh, and so when they ask, how are you performing? How are you doing? Of course, you’re thinking about what [00:27:00] is going to be a satisfactory answer, but I think ultimately if you’re having fun and treating it as a game you’re going to get better results uh, no matter.  

[00:27:11] Louis Beryl: I love that. I often too think about entrepreneurship a bit as a, you know, with a sports analogy as a game. And you know, when you’re on the field, you want to be trying your hardest, but that doesn’t mean that whether, you know, you get beat on a play or you lose a game. It’s not the end of the world. You gotta think about what you did wrong and play a good game the next day or the next time.  Jess, this was awesome. Thank you so much for the time today. It’s so great reconnecting. I really appreciate you being on The Startup Stack.

[00:27:40] Jess Mah: Ah thank you so much this has been super fun.

[00:27:43]  Louis Beryl: For more on our conversation today, visit We upload a new episode every week, so if you haven’t yet, make sure to subscribe to “The Startup Stack” in Apple Podcast, Spotify or wherever you listen to them. Thanks again for joining us. See you next week.[00:28:02]

Announcer: The Startup Stack, written and edited by Hannah Levy, produced by Leah Jackson.

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