MotivateU: Jenn Strout
Jenn offers valuable insights into the challenges and rewards of being a founder and provides tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Jennifer is a genius. She was given her first computer by her grandfather at the age of 4 and began teaching herself math at five years old. By 10, she had written her first screenplay, developed her first webpage at 12, and coded a novel program by 20. Then, this past summer, she patented her first invention.
With over a decade of work experience as a counselor in the mental health field and more than 18 years of research experience under her belt, Jenn leads her team toward leveraging technology and innovation to enable businesses and individuals to efficiently and effectively achieve their goals. Funny, intelligent, and determined - Jenn is someone you don't want to mess with!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I have had so many ideas since I was a child, and I would see them come to life through others over the years.
But I would shrug it off because I thought, oh well, I'll never do it myself.
I didn't know why.
I just knew I wouldn't.
I continued with this narrative, yet it made me increasingly uncomfortable.
I started resenting the idea that it couldn't be me.
Then one day, I dropped back on LinkedIn. I hadn't signed in for years. And I saw many people I graduated college with as startup founders.
These were my peers. People I knew on a first-name basis. I realized then that there was no reason it couldn't be me. And that quickly turned into a determination that it would be me!
And now it is.
It can be you also, as long as you don't stand in your way.
What describes the first seven days after launching a new product like KeyLink?
The first week of a launch is fun after you get past the pre-launch jitters. You tend to run off the adrenaline and good reviews for the first few days to a week. The week post-launch is the toughest because you're exhausted but nowhere near slowing down in marketing, outreach, customer success, etc. Given that we launched KeyLink in the fall, the pace will need to stay strong through the end of the year.
And with basically no preparation in marketing or development aside from research, the entire process has been a whirlwind the last month, with just two weeks between the start of development and marketing and the launch.
Since then, we have launched three different versions of the app, each with a new feature, and will continue to drop at least one new feature a week for the next month, along with launching the Android version of the app. So I anticipate having a lot to be grateful for by the time Thanksgiving rolls around!
What do you believe are the critical ingredients for a successful founder?
A founder with grit, passion, and an insatiable drive for learning.
Everything else is variable.
What advice can you provide founders struggling with fundraising during these economic times?
Unfortunately, there's no easy answer for how to deal with the current state of fundraising, especially for underrepresented founders. If you have been fortunate enough to raise in the past, reach out to your existing investors, who may be interested in investing more and may have new referrals. If you haven't already, cut down your burn rate.
Check to make sure you need any software you are using. Can you cut back even on the level of plans, use free resources, etc.? If your startup generates revenue, you may get an alternative funding source, such as loans. Overall, even though these times are tough, remember that your clients are still your primary focus, and even if you can raise them, you still have to generate revenue. So try to use this time to double down on sales and marketing.
What impact do you hope to make?
Life satisfaction, enrichment, and fulfillment should be a right, not a privilege. At MotivateU, we believe community, innovation, motivation, and accessibility are cornerstones to achieving wellness and success for individuals, communities, and businesses.
How have you overcome challenges in your entrepreneurial journey?
One at a time. By relying on my team and other founders for support and resources.
How has being a female founder changed you as a person?
I finally feel fulfilled and know that this is the path I was meant to take.
What is the most significant risk facing your company?
As with most tech startups, the market conditions are currently harsh and unfavorable, but nearly all aspects of entrepreneurship are brutal. So, keeping aspired of the markets and trends is another ball to juggle along with the spinning plates.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
What keeps you up at night?
Same as above, lol.
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