Do not be discouraged by failures. Stand up, brush it off and keep fighting.
Jenny Q. Ta is the founder and CEO of Sqeeqee, the first-of-its-kind all-in-one social networthing site launched in 2014. Taking the Sqeeqee platform one step further, Jenny created a mobile and online game, Squiggy Piggy, set to launch January of 2015.
Jenny is a seasoned entrepreneur with more that 20 years of experience as a senior executive in sales, marketing, and finance with two successful Wall Street ventures to her credit. Prior to founding Sqeeqee and creating Squiggy Piggy, Jenny founded full-service broker-dealer startup, Vantage Investments, that she grew to a quarter of a billion dollars in assets. Jenny then founded and became the CEO of Titan Securities, a full service investment firm that was later acquired in 2005.
In 2014 Jenny released her first book, Wall Street Cinderella, detailing her escape from Vietnam during the war and her path to success from welfare to Wall Street. Currently talks of a movie deal for Wall Street Cinderella are in the works.
Jenny earned her MBA in Financial Management and B.S. in Management Information Systems from California State University, Fresno.
Where did the idea for Sqeeqee come from?
The idea for Sqeeqee struck me while I was at the beach one afternoon. I was thinking about how I had so many different social media accounts and how scattered that made my digital life. I began sketching out my dream webpage that would include the functions of all these sites in one easy to use location. That sketch in the sand, which I quickly transcribed onto a t-shirt since that was my only means of note taking at the moment, would become the base for Sqeeqee.com.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
No two days are the same for me, however I make them as productive as possible by constantly holding myself accountable. I operate off of at least 4-5 different to-do lists on any given day. Through a combination of calendars, alarms, journals and sticky notes, I keep myself on track and on task. I also carry two mobile phones – an Android and an iPhone.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring my ideas to life through out of the box thinking. From the rough draft of my business I created in the sand, to the ways in which I recruit and grow my team, I am constantly doing things in a way that is unique and works for me. I know my own strengths and weaknesses better than anyone, and make it my goal to run my business in a way that reflects that. Off the wall and unusual seems to be exactly the style that has driven success in the past.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
A trend is like fashion. It comes and goes. Currently, I would say we have a new wave of a tech boom here, and it’s feeding the bulls on Wall Street. Markets are breaking all-time highs and I see this strength is different than the tech bubble of 2000. There were no solid earnings to backup like we’re seeing today. With technology, I see cloud technology will continue to expand into unusual territories.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It’s simple, I don’t procrastinate. I get things done because the well-being and success of my staff and company are heavily dependent on it. I believe as a leader where decisions are heavily dependent on you, procrastination can lead to not only personal failure, but that of your company and team as well. I take those self-thought lessons and get things done even if it means lesser sleeping time.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Prior to owning my own broker-dealers, I was just a Registered Rep (i.e. stockbroker) at a number of independent firms. I didn’t mind the long hours (from 5am to about 3-4pm) and definitely didn’t mind those dreadful cold calls, but what I didn’t like about these positions were how demeaning my superiors were and how they treated me (or mostly everyone). Most were Independent Contractors, but it was more like a boiler room environment with zero respect for people. It wasn’t just one firm, but nearly all firms were similar. It was because of such learning experiences that I vowed to treat others with respect always, especially when I’m the one in the “superior” role.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’ve been asked this question many times and my answer has always been exactly the same, which is I wouldn’t change a single thing. As an entrepreneur, a leader, we make decisions – some good, some bad. Most would probably answer this question saying that they’d change all of the bad decisions they made, to right ones. However, my thoughts are if I didn’t make bad decisions, I wouldn’t know how to make better ones. Life is a learning lesson and running a small or mega enterprise is no different. I value bad decisions because it is based upon those that I make not just better decisions, but perfect decisions.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Do not be discouraged by failures. Stand up, brush it off and keep fighting.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The most important strategy to help grow one’s business – besides taking risks- is money management. I can’t recall knowing so many colleagues with failed businesses because of poor money management. To often businesses overspend in areas that are not needed and under spend in more necessary areas that should be boosted. Until your business has a strong leg to stand on it’s own with lots of cash flow and a strong revenue stream, it’s your own sole responsibility as the founder/CEO to manage your money well. I can’t stress the importance of this enough.
I have also met and learned from a number of businesses that also failed by getting the wrong partners, wrong VCs and wrong board members to join them. These partnerships can literally wipe you out because their advice and opinions may cripple your founding enterprise. Stick to your guns, your senses and your judgment, as you are the creator of your business. No one will know it better than you. If you fail, your business will fail. If you succeed, your business will thrive. It’s that simple. Your business shadows you.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The one failure as an entrepreneur that I would never forget is to fully trusting someone wholeheartedly. Entrepreneurs should run their businesses using their minds, not their hearts. Successful leaders were never known to be kind and gentle. It’s the name of the game. You may like someone, care for someone, but never lose your own strength and mind. You’re at the helm of your own enterprise, not anyone else. Seek opinions and ideas, collaborate, but never blindly follow someone else’s take on things. When in doubt, seek more than one advice, even when it comes from the professional experts.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We recently launched a cloud storage feature on Sqeeqee, named “SqeekBox.” It’s a feature that competes with the mega players like Google Drive, DropBox from Yahoo, and OneDrive from Microsoft. There are other independent players such as Box.com, which went IPO just 2-3 weeks ago. While Sqeeqee has dozens of features, I take pride in this specific one because not only we’re butting heads with these Goliath companies, we are the very first social network to offer FREE unlimited cloud storage..
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Personally, I spent it on a used Fitbit. I needed to track the number of steps per day as a form of reminding myself that my health is as important as the success of my company, as the two go side-by-side.
Professionally, I spent it on a used mobile device so that I could rip it apart just to learn the electrical components in them. Who knows, I may dive into designing hardware next. ☺
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
While there are a number of different software products I use on a daily basis, I use Chrome and Firefox the most. As for web services, I would say my own social network, Sqeeqee. I’m on it like 24/7 to interact with partners, team members, and users.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Path to Power by Margaret Thatcher. I was fascinated by her story and how SHE was able to transform the British economy from the poor man of Europe into the rich man of Europe. Very inspiring and powerful.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I would say my top two would be Bill Gates for his philanthropy work with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. I would love to follow his footsteps to find that next cure and solve problems for the third world. Then my most recent one I truly admire is billionaire/CEO Marc Benioff of Salesforce. How he has challenged his own peers to give back more is inspiring.