What started out as a street art sticker project in Halifax for artist and illustrator JJ Steeves, has turned into a small business and army of fierce feline friends peering out at you from all corners of the world.
Steeves is a professional illustrator and artist based out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia but fans of her street art have plastered these awesome creatures on dumpsters, telephone poles and mail boxes in the cities of Canada, Western Europe, the shores of Miami Beach and beyond.
Steeves is fun, feminist and fiercely herself, which is why we cannot get enough of her work. When she’s not building armies of street cats, Steeves is often busy working on murals, comics, editorial work and more recently the launch of her upcoming online shop.
Full of creativity and conviction, her work is largely self reflecting and self realizing. Many of Steeves projects and pieces draw on so much of her own personality that you cannot help but feel connection or a sense of camaraderie with whatever it is she creates.
So if you don’t have enough cool cats on your corner, make sure to follow Steeves on Twitter to find out when and where you can get your paws on some Stray Kitty gear.
With recaps of the great (and not so great) moments of the past year flooding our news feeds, now is the perfect time to reflect on what was and what will be.
As entrepreneurs we always have to be cognizant of what works and what doesn’t. We have to know how to review and measure our own investments in terms of time, money and resources. We look at what contributes to our success and what sustains the livelihood of our stakeholders. By paying close attention to the things that either derailed or propelled our business, we can make better choices for each new quarter.
But aside from profits, what about purpose? Are you driven by the want to create for the better? Are you inspired by products and services that will allow for a better more sustainable future?
If the answer is yes, then you believe in vision. You believe in turning a spark into an action and moving with it.
That is what young entrepreneur, animator and activist Maya Penn promotes in her charming TED Women Talk from 2013.
Maya is full of ideas and the passion to see them brought to fruition.
Perturbed by the harmful waste in the clothing manufacturing process, at just 8 years old she created (and coded) her first business Maya’s Ideas – an online store selling eco friendly clothes and accessories that later grew into a separate nonprofit initiative that helps spread environmental awareness and encourages young girls to follow their dreams in non-traditional fields.
Today at 15, her accomplishments are inspiring and her mindset is powerful.
She believes that her visions have power. The power to spark movement. The power to make change happen. “Ideas are opportunities and innovation,” she says. “Ideas truly are what make the world go round.”
Maya is fortunate to have so much support and recognition at a young age. She may not yet have had to experience the breadth of hardship that come with entrepreneurship, but if she continues to embrace what drives her and uses it to spark new ideas that can inspire entrepreneurs of every age, we have to appreciate her ambition.
So as you approach the new year, take a bright perspective from Maya. Embrace your strengths, ignite your passions through your work; and never doubt your ability to create what you envision.
A female VC once told Jessica Mah that her personality was too strong – at least for a woman in the tech industry. Mah calls it unapologetic confidence and she’s not ashamed to put it to good use. After all it was strength and willingness to believe in her abilities and her company that allowed her to reinvent her financial software firm and create a stunning growth rate of 2,685.6% over a three year period.
Mah launched inDinero in 2010 with her friend and co-founder Andy Su. At the time Mah was just 19 years old and by the time she was 20 they had received $1.2 million in funding through Y Combinator.
Inspired by her entrepreneurial mother, Mah claims to have had her first taste of business in second grade selling drawings in the school playground. When she was 8 years-old Mah began learning computer programming. At age 12 she started her first company and by the age of 15 she dropped out of high school to take computer science courses at University of California at Berkeley from where she later graduated. Tech Crunch toted her as “the closest thing we have to a female Mark Zuckerberg.”
In creating inDinero, Mah was motivated by her previous small business ventures and the problems she faced with managing her books. She took something that intimidated her and decided to create a product that would make it easier for small businesses to manage their own accounting.
With her immediate PR and funding success, Mah did not project that inDinero would fail within the first year. According to her feature in Inc. magazine most of the 30,000 mom-and-pop-shop customers using inDinero were not buying into premium tools and used the software for free.
Money started to burn away. There were the basic operational costs but there were also the costs of letting your ego get the better of you. In an email to her parents she confessed to the detriment of cockiness and arrogance: “I feel like I’m Bernie Madoff – rich on the outside, but completely broken on the inside.” Flashy PR and an expensive office was not going to sustain her success. Mah had a wake up call. She was spending $80,000 a month, with only $150,000 left in the bank. The platonic co-founders laid off all their employees save for two, moved the company into their home apartment which was subsidized by their parents and started again from the ground up.
In order to survive inDinero had to pivot. Mah and Su used their personal connections and market research to create a more refined business model and product offering. Ultimately inDinero acted as a back office operations software that would handle accounting and taxes for small to medium sized businesses.
I think if anything this [experience] has made me even bigger and bolder. I am more ambitious now than I was a few months ago. A year ago I was calling my mentors and saying, wow, maybe I won’t be able to build a huge business and its not going to be great – and over the past few months that attitude has completely shifted. Now I’m like, I can really crush it. I can do really great things in the world.
Mah also noted that although she might be a little bit more paranoid after coming back from the brink of failure, she has learned not to take anything for granted.
Today, inDinero is a growing force in the small-to-medium-size-business software space. Customers now pay three to four figures monthly for use of the the proprietary software and inDinero received another $8.8 million in funding which led to a staff of 150. In 2014, inDinero hit $2.9 million in revenue with a growth rate of 2,685% and Mah is confident that their growth will double by 2016.