Say cheese! Jolina Li’s BuzzyBooth is a big-time branding tool

With a customer turned angel investor and businesses beating down her door, Jolina Li's Buzzybooth is this years hot branding ticket. Here's how she did it.

Jolina Li Buzzybooth logoWhat did you eat for breakfast?

An apple! It’s bad, I know, but responding to important emails is my first priority in the morning. I’ll get real food after I’m done cranking out the morning work.

What’s your workout?

I do Bikrim yoga and rock climbing here and there when I have free time.

What picture is on your phone’s home screen?

It says “Just Keep Swimming.”

Jolina Li Buzzybooth productWhat inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?

Growing up, I’ve learned that with combination of perseverance and hard work, great things can happen. Entrepreneurship is my passion. I enjoy taking an idea and bringing it to life because nothing is more satisfying than seeing your idea end up in mass market hands. I grew up in the restaurant industry and after hearing countless restaurateurs complain about the difficulties of connecting with their customers, I knew there had to be a better way to help restaurants promote and engage with their customers. So I started BuzzyBooth to help small businesses create easier and smarter marketing plans. I moved out to California to get into the startup environment and to surround myself with others who are in startup businesses. BuzzyBooth was just an idea a year ago, but now we have more than 100,000 photos shared across United States. Businesses both large and small are loving BuzzyBooth and using it actively.

What do you see for your future?

I would love to make BuzzyBooth available to as many retail brands as possible, and hopefully one day people will turn to BuzzyBooth for their photo-marketing needs.

How large is your business? How many employees do you have?

We are a team of 3, and we hire over 20+ contractors.

Tell us a success story about funding your business.

We started off bootstrapping the company and lived frugally. After launching BuzzyBooth, the revenue generated from our service helped us get a customer who turned angel investor and who is going to invest $100K for us to grow the business.

What do you see as challenges for you and your business? What are some opportunities?

It’s a challenge when people think I’m too young and inexperienced, and it’s harder being a woman entrepreneur whose bootstrapping her own business. However, sometimes when you’re young and inexperienced, you’re not afraid to go out and do things because there’s nothing to lose—you will explore all possibilities to try to make your company a success.

Jolina Li Buzzybooth headshotTell us a story about a success in your business or a mistake you overcame?

I started BuzzyBooth to help restaurants. However, after launching BuzzyBooth, I discovered there are tons of other industries interested, including orthodontists, hair salons, clothing stores, pop-up stores, etc. There’s a much wider market than I had originally planned for. After Clarins came back to reorder, that’s when I knew BuzzyBooth will be growing up faster than I expected.

What do you love about being an entrepreneur?

Building something that can be used and can benefit other people—and of course, the thrill of getting new and interesting customers who pay you and praise your products.

What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?

Not only do I want to provide entertainment for users, I want it to be useful to businesses. I want to make sure that businesses will benefit from using BuzzyBooth; thus, we will continue working on adding more features to our software so that down the road, business owners will be able to get more marketing value out of BuzzyBooth.

What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”

I was told that I can execute, that I can take an idea to concept to building a product. Even if I do not have the skills to do it myself, I’ll find ways to make it happen.

Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now? Why does s/he inspire you?

I really admire Michelle Phan because she made a name for herself out of nothing, is at the center of an inspiring rags-to-riches story that results from hard work. I have a lot of respect for those who are able to build something out of nothing because I know it takes a lot of work and effort to build something great, something that people will use. It’s already hard being an entrepreneur, harder being a female entrepreneur, and hardest being an Asian female entrepreneur.

Jolina Li Buzzybooth productWhat’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?

Best thing about being an entrepreneur—hearing people loving the product I built. Best thing about being a female entrepreneur—a component of my product is tech-related. Despite the fact that I have no knowledge of coding, I was still able to build a company that people love in an incredibly short amount of time. It has inspired many of my female friends to start their own business because they know how “ordinary” I am. I told them, If I can do it, surely they all can!

Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs?

Sadly, most of the entrepreneurs I know personally and read about on media are male. I do not know many women who are entrepreneurs, and I think one major reason is that we don’t have as big a network as men do. There are many factors that go into building a successful business, and having a network of experienced entrepreneurs and support groups will increase the chance of success for women’s businesses significantly. And I have to agree with Kevin O’Leary that woman are more goal oriented.

What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?

Build the MVP as quickly as possible and get it out there to get feedback. Build fast, Fail fast, then learn from it. Advice from my mentor.


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