Year of the Woman Entrepreneur: Jessica Alter
We are pleased to introduce Jessica Alter, founder of FounderDating and June’s woman entrepreneur extraordinaire. Her story marks the sixth in turnstone’s year-long focus on women blazing trails in the world of business.
Full name: Jessica Alter
Founder of: FounderDating
HQ location: San Francisco
Contact: Twitter: @jalter and @founderdating
“What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of what it’s supposed to be.” -Anonymous
I grew up in suburbs of Detroit (cue the 8-mile references). I went to Michigan for undergrad, took a job in management consulting and went to Harvard Business School and followed a pretty predictable career path (not bad, just predictable) until 2006. I was pretty well aware that beauracracy and I were not friends and I wanted to work in a more entrepreneurial environment. So I came to San Francisco to work at a startup when hedge funds were still the cool thing to do for MBAs. I ended up at Bebo during an intensely interesting time for social networking and caught the bug. FounderDating, my current company, is like LinkedIn for entrepreneurs. It’s the place entrepreneurs go to connect with the people (advisors, cofounders and fellow entrepreneurs) and information they need to succeed.
What made you what you are:
I lost my mom at pretty formative age (14). It’s not something I would wish on my worst enemy, but for better or worse it shapes you. As it relates to being an entrepreneur, I think having a crucible moment at a young age does two things. First, it shows you that you can persevere which is the name of the game in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is really about getting punched in the gut and being able to get back up and keep going over and over again.
Secondly, it gives you perspective. In college I was bothered by my classmates taking jobs just because of the money. I really
wanted needed to be passionate about what I was spending 12+ hours a day working on—life is just too short not to. I think most people have that same desire but they are held back by a fear of some sort. Typically, finding people that can fill the gaps in the knowedge you don’t have and/or that believe in your vision is the antidote to that fear. That’s what FounderDating provides. It is, at its core, really about helping entrepreneurs do what they really want to do and do so faster and with more success.
Advice you would give to other entrepreneurs:
Build a network that you can go to in good times AND shitty times. The former is easy, the latter is important.
Entrepreneur you most admire and why?:
Not sure I have one entrepreneur I most admire. Entrepreneurs go through such intense emotional roller coasters; I’m impressed with people who do it repeatedly. It’s not for everyone.
Favorite thing about your office:
We have a lounge area and room for FounderDating members to work on side projects—not a coworking space but a place to brainstorm and see if they can work together or with advisors.We call it the Side Project Lounge. I love that space and the poster we hung up that says, “talk to me in solutions, not problems.”