Eighteen months ago I founded a company, JumpThru, with a clear desire to help women found companies, encourage more women to use and create technology, and promote women to achieve their own wealth by creating successful companies. The mission was rather large and broad, but it motivated me to return to work full-time after already having retired from a twenty-plus-year career in investment banking.
Most people have a product or idea and create a business around that. I did things a bit backwards. I decided to found a company based on what is important to me at this time in my life and then look for business opportunities that supported those values.
Perhaps my favorite quote for entrepreneurs is from Steve Blank: “A start up is a temporary organization designed to search for a scalable and repeatable business model.” I took these words to heart and went down an unknown path to find the opportunities that would create a sustainable business model. My path had a number of twists and turns and several initiatives that are all connected to the same mission. Our talented graphic artist Tina prepared the following chart to show the path and the milestones.
Many of the experiences along the path have expanded my thinking. Last summer, JumpThru and Girl Develop It held the first weekend long Hackathon for women. I was able to see first-hand the brillance of women as they created an interactive web game for social good from scratch. The technology available to women today creates a level playing field in innovation. I am a fierce advocate of women learning the basics of coding. At JumpThru we depend on lots of open source code or we modify existing platforms with custom code to create products to further our mission.
A dream of mine came true when Women Innovate Mobile Accelerator was launched in December 2011 with my two amazing co-founders Veronika Sonsev and Kelly Hoey. The past months of that start-up were intense but we could not be more proud to see the first companies evolve over three months with the concentrated help of mentors and experts.
None of this could have been done with out the wildly capable team at JumpThru, most of whom are volunteers or interns. Intergenerational and diverse teams are very powerful. We have had young women interns in high school and college who volunteer and move on to impressive opportunities. Because we are so lean at JumpThru, all the interns jump right in and participate in all projects. Our culture is very distinct: no attitude, no politics, and learn, learn and learn. I learn from the team everyday. They are young, talented and have a confidence I never had at that age.
Building my company and pursuing my mission has been deeply satisfying. On a weekly basis women thank me for what we are doing, be it an intern, a fellow founder, or just another woman who wants to see women succeed. That is what keeps me going day after day and forging ahead.
I have always believed that if you could provide a way for women to consciously support one another through their own purchasing power, you could ignite a movement with lasting change for the better. For many months, my team and I have been building a company called Plum Alley, which is the way we think we can reach this goal. Plum Alley, launching this September, is a discovery site where you can find female founded companies and support them by purchasing their stunning products and services.
In meeting with female founders to profile on Plum Alley, I have been humbled and inspired by the stories of women who had a dream, took a big risk, and founded a company. I can think of no better way to help these companies succeed than to buy their products and services.
I am very appreciative of all the women and men who have encouraged me from my first longings to found a company. Many of you have been loyal readers of My Tech Letter and it has been hard to realize that we now need to focus on Plum Alley in order to have a bigger impact on women founded companies. Therefore, going forward we will not publish My Tech Letter on a weekly basis. Instead, we will send out posts when we want to report on noteworthy activities that we are pursuing like the launch of the Digital Map for Female Founded Companies. We are also considering several media opportunities and partnerships with like-minded organizations that would promote our content.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and other female founders. Stay tuned for updates on Plum Alley. We hope you will be active visitors to the Plum Alley site and consider buying items for yourself and gifts whenever you have the opportunity.