An entire business built on a payment widget for subscription box services? Welcome to the new age of hyper-specific startups.
Aihui Ong left her cushy job as a software engineer to backpack around the world. Good move.
Could you walk away from a job that paid more than half a million a year? That’s what Kathryn Cicoletti did when she created MakinSense Babe, a video-driven site that translates financial news and investment advice into language that everyone can understand. Described by Forbes as “The Daily Show, but swap out Jon Stewart for an attractive blonde using clever analogies and wry wit to simplify financial topics,” Cicoletti’s videos skewer the mainstream financial industry, while making savvy investors of her subscribers.
"I spent a lot of time looking at the landscape to see what is out there and what other people were doing. I wanted to be sure that I was coming at finance and money topics from a different angle. I love the idea of taking things that are generally boring—sorry, finance is really boring, let’s be honest—and making them entertaining.”
Wanderlust Projects is an event design company that creates and curates original events, but there’s a twist: Attending one of their events could get you arrested.
"Our lives are full of boundaries," says Austin. "Anytime you cross those, the transgression of doing something you’re not supposed to be doing opens up something inside you."
“People are looking at you as a role model as well, looking at you as an example,” Savannah Guthrie told Marissa Mayer on the Today Show. “Has that been difficult to deal with?”
Looking slightly flustered, Mayer repeated a response she had given to a previous question about her age: “Again, I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at it or even thinking about it. I’ve really been focusing on the products and what we need to do.”
It’s understandable that Guthrie took an opportunity to ask that rare bird, the female CEO of a large tech company, questions about her unusual situation. But it’s also understandable why Mayer consistently returns boiler-plate responses to such inquiries. Responding to them could send her down a rabbit hole that runs deep:
What’s her opinion of stay-at-home mothers?
What’s she doing about the income disparity between women and men?
Should paid maternity leave be mandatory?
How is she supporting women in the developing world?
Will she be lobbying for this bill that creates better work conditions for women this year?
And when can we expect her book about women in the workplace and the subsequent dates on a speaking tour?
Mayer’s male peers at big technology companies—Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates—aren’t bothered with this line of questioning. (“Mr. Jobs, is it difficult to be seen as a role model for men?” Sounds wrong, doesn’t it?) And it’s not just because they’re men. It’s because they’re busy running companies.
"If ever there is a moment to join or start up your own company, this is it," says Smith. "To be the little nimble startups that can run rings around the major corporations and move faster than them and be more innovative than them, the moment is now."
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