It’s Female Founder Friday, the day I devote a post to spotlighting a female founder and her company. Why? Because women entrepreneurs build awesome companies that solve issues that matter, but the media rarely covers them. Get ready to be inspired by stories of wonderful women who made the leap and created really cool companies!
Let me introduce Minki Jung, the founder of Winii. I had the privilege of meeting Minki last month at the Angel Hack Lady Problems hackathon in New York. Her business idea and the problem she was tackling instantly intrigued me, and she was the runner up in the competition.Winii is the equivalent of CrossFit for personal finance. Their system helps you set a financial goal, gives you access to finance experts to help you set up a plan, and then adds you to a supportive community of women who have similar incomes, budgets, and expenses so you can learn from each other’s triumphs and failures. Cool fact and proof that the system works: on average, Winii users save 138% of their 8 week goal.
Below are Minki’s answers to some of my questions. Learn from her inspiration, challenges, and sage startup advice ladies!
What inspired you to create your company?
In 2015, I quit my job as a consultant and was traveling in Colombia to become an amateur tango dancer. But as a graduate of International Development and Economics, even while traveling I’d always get sucked in by curiosity of how markets affect individuals. I first started looking at the incredible amount of personal debt many Colombians are hostage to and the difficulty of climbing out of it. This thought trail injected an idea for a startup which was accepted to The S Factory (a pre-accelerator for female entrepreneurs hosted by the Chilean government). So for the next few months I lived in Chile fleshing out the concept. As with any startups, I went through a series of pivots from how Americans were dealing with student loans to how women are managing personal finance (debt included). In a nutshell, this whole journey into entrepreneurship started with tango and a series of events.
So I went back to the drawing board and scrutinized what was the principle “problem” I was trying to address? Personal debt. It was a continuous loop after that where I went out to talk to as many people as I could who had such a problem and really tried to hear the 360 degrees context in how they were dealing with it – the emotional, physical, environmental and social aspects. I continuously iterated after filtering what worked and what didn’t with each step. If you are interested in getting rid of your personal debt, you may want to check this debt payoff planner and start planning your way to a debt-free life.
To be honest, this process can be a soul sucking period of de-motivation. But in hindsight, our methodical and intentional method, albeit slower in progress than I would have liked, made us stronger with very unique behavioral insights of our client base that empowers us to better support our users to succeed in their financial journey. Life would have probably been far easier if I had been more aware of how different people and businesses, similar to Resolve debt help, could support me in managing my debt. But I’m glad I managed with it in my way, as it taught me an awful lot.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
My original idea was to scale up and digitalize savings circles (an informal savings network seen throughout different cultures). However, prototypes and feedback in Chile made me quickly realize that the “trust” factor (which is critical to successful savings circles) cannot be easily replicated digitally. I had realized the “community” aspect was incredibly powerful in motivating savings behaviors but what didn’t stick in the digital version was entrusting “my” money with “others.”
Iterate, iterate, iterate to help women from recent college grads to mid career power houses to feel more excited and empowered by where their personal finance is heading.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders:
Start small and nimble. Be fast. I’ve mentored and met a lot of different startups and in most cases, you’d be surprised how easily you can vet your idea with simple hacks. I’ve also seen way too many companies shot gun building and investing money and time without properly understanding “what” and “why.” Become creative and test if your solution sticks with your target audience. If it doesn’t stick, you’ve learned something to iterate on.