Finance

Published on May 22nd, 2011 | by thevyne

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Vyne Entrepreneur Spotlight: Charisse Conanan and Adrissha Wimberly

Relationship (sisters, friends, former classmates, etc): Started as classmates at Chicago Booth, turned into friends, and now partners.

Business venture: www.smarteys.com

Where did the idea of your business come from?: Charisse left Wall Street with the idea to help people with their finances. She found Adrissha in school and together they came up with Smarteys, which is revolutionizing  the way the 20/30 YoYo (“Your On Your Own”) generation manages the cash they do have and create the cash they wish they had.

When did you start your business?: While at Chicago Booth in June 2009. Started full-time on the business in June 2010.

Do you focus on your business full time? Yes.

If so, what made you decide to leave your former career to start this?: There’s no other time like graduating from grad school to live a dream. The need is so strong and only full-time focus would allow us to make the traction necessary to grow properly. We did pick up some part-time work to help us eat.

What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned? Building a web-based business takes twice as long and is twice as challenging as one could imagine. And, let’s not forget that it takes money to make money.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting their own business?: Find an incredible partner. We have been fortunate to find each other and be at similar life stages that allow us to fully dedicate ourselves to the business and have the financial resources to do so.

What is the most gratifying thing about being a business owner?: You start with a blank sheet of paper and can create something that other people find valuable and useful. We wake up every day and we’re thankful for the opportunity to be really doing what we’re passionate about and to create a working culture that reflects our values.

What is the most challenging thing about being a business owner?: The buck stops with us –if we don’t do something, it doesn’t happen. While this can also be rewarding at times, we have to be a jack of all trades in the beginning and that is very challenging.

What is the best and most challenging things about having a business partner?: Best part? We have each other to share the daily journey with – the ups and downs. There are some things that happen that only we are privy to and that’s wonderful because it bonds us in an inexplicable way. Most challenging? We have very different work styles, and so it’s a constant challenge to allow the other person to achieve their tasks in their own way. That’s where trust, clear expectations, and open communication come into play. Sound familiar?

What do you and your business partner do to make sure that it’s not all work and no play? Many things – go out to eat, watch movies, chill over tea, go to church, and when we have money, check out a concert (our last one was Maxwell). Given the interconnectivity of Smarteys with our personal lives, we make sure the personal part stays alive and active!

 

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