How She Built It: Tiffani Bell of Pencil You In

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Where did you work before launching PYI? When did you quit?

TB: I worked at a government agency as a web developer as I was launching Pencil You In. My replacement was hired the last week of May 2011 and I went on a leave of absence June 3, 2011. My supervisors were well aware of why I was leaving and suggested I take the leave of absence to maintain my benefits for the duration of NewMeAccel.

Full disclosure: One of my supervisors was my uncle who is a founder of the company where I worked.

 What was that process of quitting your job  like for you mentally?

TB: I’ve never walked away from anything this big before, so even the thought of taking a leave of absence from my job, without pay, was horrible at first. I had to mentally prepare myself to leave a stable, lucrative and easy job for a venture that might not be profitable right away. But I knew that if I dedicated all of my time and effort to Pencil You In, that it would eventually be successful.

How did you fund your business?

TB: So far, Pencil You In has been funded through paychecks from my former job.

What was the biggest obstacle that you’ve had to overcome before, during or after launching Pencil You In?

TB: Time. When I had a day job, I would work on Pencil You In at night, on the weekend and whatever other free time I could get. And now that Pencil You In is my primary focus, time management is even more important because I have to make time to meet with customers, prospective partners, marketing, etc.

How big is your team? Do you have any employees?

TB: Until recently, I’ve been working on Pencil You In by myself. But I’ve just hired an awesome developer who will handle more of the product engineering which will allow me to step away from the computer and focus on other areas of the business. I’ve also brought on an advisor who’s already provided a lot of insight on improving the business model and thoughts about future partnership opportunities.

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