JRNL strives to empower users with the ability to capture, record and amplify the meaningful content in life for reflection.
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Product/Service Offering: Journals and Personal/Family Record keeping with Book Publishing
Co-founder Interviewed: Nick Jones
Other Key Management Team Members: Steve Reed
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
Entrepreneurship has always been in my blood. I love to identify challenges in the market and to find the money. I enjoy the brainstorming process, the camaraderie, and the drive to build something. I also enjoy investing and supporting entrepreneurs during the process and sharing my knowledge and experience. More than anything, my wife and children drive me to stay focused and constantly push to finish. I believe “finishing” is a skill set most overlooked in entrepreneurship and is more valuable than most people realize until they’ve been through the process a couple of times.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
JRNL was established in January 2015 and launched August 28, 2015 in Beta. The idea was born in 2008 and really developed over years of discussions, testing concepts, and learning what was successful in the market. It originated with a conversation in church and also when I became a father. I wanted to find a way to record meaningful content, but I needed something that didn’t require me to pick up a new habit.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
All people have experiences in their life that serve as “life triggers” that are meaningful and serve as moments for reflection. In many of those cases, the meaningful content is collaborative and the entire story is not only personal, but also a shared experience. JRNL strives to empower users with the ability to capture, record and amplify the meaningful content in life for reflection. Those meaningful moments vary for everyone and people are capturing content all over the place. We collect, curate and amplify that content.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
It’s the combination of collection and curation along with multiple formats of publishing. We’re working on a couple of unique methodologies that will be released in 2017 and have always been a part of our core strategy.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The challenges were communication with a remote team, adopting new methodologies, and design processes that were not previously used. Getting everyone on the same page and identifying roles and a chain of command was new, interesting, and required consistent communication.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful.
I would recommend the following: Slack.com, SimilarWeb.com, GrowthHackers.com, Friendemic.com, Google Apps for Business, Dropbox, Vimeo, HappyFox, and AdEspresso.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
I took part in BoomStartup, a leading Accelerator in Salt Lake City. I also worked hard to connect with many venture capitalists outside of the BoomStartup program. I believe building relationships is a major part of any entrepreneur’s success. In JRNL, I haven’t regretted anything yet in term of investment, but it’s because I learned a lot from my previous companies.
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Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
I could have benefited greatly earlier in my career from strong mentorship. In my previous company there were plenty of questions. How to price my product? What sort of contract should I be providing? Should I patent? Should I trademark? Is that domain name worth buying? How do I find and qualify talent? And so many more…
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
I imagine we have the same challenges most startups have, which are a lack of time and speed to market. I am very fortunate to have a great team that can cover a lot of areas at this stage in the process. I have worked hard to identify those key areas that make a difference in a startup. Any successful company with funds can hire talent. Finding those key people that make a difference and are willing to make the sacrifices are the people I fight for.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Don’t undervalue the importance of your brand perception. It can make all the difference early on in your business and will tell most investors if you’re serious or not. Get a good domain name. Get a good logo. Get a unique email address. When you’re young or new, you have to fake it till you make it. It’s not anything to be embarrassed about. All entrepreneurs have this problem until they are funded.
We were finalists in the Rootstech.org Startup Showdown 2016. We were closing speaker in the BoomStartup 2016 Spring Cohort. We raised $750,000 and expect a very strong 2017 because of some key partnerships that we’ve cultivated in 2016.