Startup Spotlight: Jet
Startup Spotlight: Jet
This week we spoke to Jenny Mirken, CEO and Founder of Jet. Jet is a mobile chat platform for kids, aimed at providing them the best communication tools to become the next leaders.
GH: What is Jet?
Jet is the first mobile chat platform for kids.
GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did Jet get started?
I’ve always been interested in technology and kids, and how the former often ignores the unique needs and desires of the latter. Kids are regarded as second-class citizens when it comes to technical innovation – in fact, they’re just the opposite — they are the early adopters and the tech leaders of tomorrow, and also in the demographic where behaviors and brand loyalties start.
GH: How did you build your team?
Jet started with me and a trusted group of friends who shared my commitment to serving kids and filling a big gap in the current chat industry. We have used contractors for several functions and outsourced development offshore in order to keep down costs while we continue raising capital.
GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?
Our goal is to make kids’ lives bigger by building a platform where they can be themselves and connect with the people, brands and ideas they love.
GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments– can you tell us how you bounced back from one of yours?
Every startup founder has to care deeply about who is on the team. Especially early on when team members are expected to contribute a lot to help advance the business. Like other CEOs, I’ve had to have difficult conversations with team members — some of whom are long-time friends who helped me start the company — about their role. Anyone who owns a piece of your company should be contributing to its success — when they aren’t, you need to take action. I’d say the best way to ensure these conversations go well, and the friendships stay in tact, is to be honest, to cite examples of any issues and to be as prepared as possible with any legal documentation. When you believe deeply in what you’re doing, you need to hold people accountable to their commitments and not be afraid to cut ties when necessary. In the end, anyone who supports your vision will want and agree to what’s best for the company.
GH: What did you learn from your first customers?
We continually listen to customers about ways to improve our product. Our users are very clear about what they want and we make sure we create opportunities to meet with them in person so we can hear and see their ideas.
GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?
Boston is a great town for support functions to a startup — lots of great lawyers, designers, development experts and organizations like TCN where you get free or cheap help on building your company.
GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking in your opinion?
We are always interested in meeting more investors who understand the media industry, invest in it and help make introductions for Jet to advance our goals.
GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?
I would say the worst advice I got was to bring on advisors, seemingly to round out the “expertise” of our team. Finding advisors takes time and, in our case, we found we learned more from our customers. I take the idea of granting equity very seriously — as should any CEO — and I had to unravel some advisor relationships in a few instances when the individual wasn’t adding value. I’d say the best advisors add value BEFORE you give them anything, so you know for sure the time and equity is worth it when you finally do.
GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?
The best thing that happened to Jet is kids started using and loving Jet this fall when we launched. That is the single most gratifying feeling for me as a CEO.
GH: What does the future hold for Jet?
2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Jet. Now that we’ve launched sharing and messaging between friends, we are introducing ‘Verified Accounts’ to allow 3rd parties connect to Jet’s under 13 audience. This has never been done before! We are very excited to bring more quality content to our users, and to offer a COPPA-compliant content-sharing platform to the many great causes, brands and people who want to reach kids.
Learn more about Jet here.