Ennie Lim // Episode 107 // Season 2 Creating a Happier Workforce With HoneyBee

Welcome to Episode 107 // Season 2 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Ennie Lim on this week's episode.

We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Check us out on Anchor, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Spotify and more. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave us a positive 5-star review. This is our opportunity to use the voices of the Asian community and share these incredible stories with the world. We release a new episode every Wednesday, so stay tuned!

Ennie Lim is the CEO and co-founder of HoneyBee, a Certified Benefit Corporation® with a mission to give free access to financial support in the workplace providing no-cost rainy day funds and on-demand financial therapy for employees and their families, creating a healthier workforce environment. HoneyBee is the result of Lim’s journey through her personal financial challenges after her divorce. They provide support for issues that disproportionately affect these marginalized groups. Ennie is passionate about diversity and inclusion initiatives and building businesses for a better tomorrow.

Please check out our Patreon at @asianhustlenetwork. We want AHN to continue to be meaningful and give back to the Asian community. If you enjoy our podcast and would like to contribute to our future, we hope you’ll consider becoming a patron.
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Transcript

Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan. 

And my name is Maggie 

And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asiansto pursue their dreams and goals.

We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi everyone. Welcome to the. Well network podcast today, we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Emmy Lim and he is the CEO and co-founder of honeybee, a certified benefit corporation with a mission to give free access to financial support in the workplace, providing no costs, rainy day funds and on demand financial therapy for employees and their families creating a healthier workforce environment.

Honeybee is the result of limbs journey through her personal finance challenges after her. They provide support for issues that disproportionately affect these marginalized groups. And he is passionate about diversity and inclusion initiatives and building businesses for a better tomorrow. Any welcome to the show.

Ennie : (00:01:08)    Thanks for having, and

Bryan: (00:01:10)     you were excited to have you on the show today. We actually been keeping an eye on Allie, I out on your successes for a while. Now we’re super excited to have you on before we get started. I want to hear more about your story because. I’m wondering, are you Canadian?

Ennie : (00:01:26)     I’m Canadian and American. So yeah. Well, my parents immigrated to Montreal Canada when I was five from Malaysia. And, uh, so that’s, uh, I’m I’m dual citizen today.

Bryan: (00:01:39)     Okay. That’s that’s awesome to hear. Yeah, I mean, we tried to have more, not just American entrepreneurs, but more Canadian Australia. International alternatives and reciting how you are.

And so let’s dive into your story, you know, like where’d you grow up? What was their upbringing like? And did your parents ever taught you a lot about entrepreneurship or even taught you like, Hey, this is a path that you can pursue besides having a traditional career.

Ennie : (00:01:59)     Yeah. So like I mentioned, my parents had immigrated to Montreal in Quebec. French speaking province. Uh, when I was five from Malaysia, uh, they didn’t speak English or French, so it’s difficult for an undergrad to even find work if they don’t speak French and come back. So I can only imagine all the obstacles they face when they first move and completely unfamiliar with the environment, food people, languages, weather, very big difference than, um, growing up in age.

So my parents had always taught me to take risks. Um, most Asian parents, as you can imagine, will want you to become doctor or lawyer. Uh, but I guess at a very early age, they realized that wasn’t going to happen. So they encouraged me to take a lot of risks. They’re entrepreneurs themselves. And, you know, they tried several, um, opportunities and projects.

It just didn’t work out. But in addition to that, I think there’s just a lot of unbelievable women that inspire me to wake up every day and keep fighting the good fight. So at a young, a few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet and, you know, feminist icons like Gloria site. She was a leader in the women’s movement in the early sixties and beyond, and women like her and RBG have really paved the path for women like myself.

And I’m really grateful for that.

Bryan: (00:03:16)     And shout out to, you’re still paying the path for us, you know? And that’s the reason why we caught her attention to an issue. You’d be like, wow, you’re such a successful entrepreneur. Like you can’t, we can have in the show, we were trying to think of a ways to like, get your attention.

Like, okay, what if I follow her Instagram with, I follow her on LinkedIn? What’s your response to us?

Ennie : (00:03:34)     Uh, we’ll make you so much that inspires me. And I’m really glad you reached out.

Maggie: (00:03:42)    Yeah. So thank you. I mean, um, I want to know, like, how was it like growing up in Montreal and how did that kind of like shape your Asian identity while you were growing up in Montreal?

Ennie : (00:03:53)     Um, so it was actually quite difficult. I moved into a new environment, so we know with everything that was going on in the last few years, a lot of that negative narrative definitely impacted me.

I grew up just wanting to make sure that I didn’t bring up. Causing the attention. So I would try to fit in as much as I could. Um, as we’re all familiar with today, like I tried to break food that didn’t win wouldn’t cause any attention. Right. So I would watch what other kids would bring to school. And I just told my mom, I cannot bring rice or noodles.

Like just give me the ham sandwiches on a white bread with nothing else. And, um, and so those were the. I definitely struggled with my identity growing up, which is why, you know, most Canadian, French Canadians played hockey. So I actually picked up hockey and joined the team surrounded by all white people.

And I felt like the more I’m surrounded by them, the less they will notice me and actually that worked for a very long time. So that’s why. It was really empowering to see all the movement that was happening, um, during the stop Asian hate, because for the first time I felt like I was part of a community and, um, yeah, it was really difficult growing up, but I definitely struggled with my identity.

I think it was only most recently that I was most comfortable with it.

Bryan: (00:05:09)      Um, I mean, I mean, definitely everyone goes through their own journey separately, but what your story it’s like, it’s a really, it’s a lot of people, Asian hostel network. I think that’s part of the reason why we picked up a lot of momentum too, because nowadays a lot of Asians are finding a lot more pride and being.

It was a lot of us grew up in a way where it’s like it, wasn’t cool to be Asian. Like there’s so many negative stereotypes and say, you’re only nerdy. You’re not attractive, you know, blah, blah, blah. And we want to stay with those. But as we got older, like, wait a minute, why are we being teased? Our culture is actually really cool.

You know, that’s the part that is really relatable to ourselves, at least for me and Maggie, the reason why we created Asian hospital network and the reason why we also want to use in the podcast. Oh, I mean, so let’s dive deep into, like, so we talked about your, your cultural upbringing. Like let’s dive deep into, like, when did you move into like the states and what was your career path like before you decided, Hey, like, I’m going to make that jump.

I must be, I start off down there now I’m going to be this powerful CEO woman. Like how, how did that all come together for you?

Ennie : (00:06:14)     Uh, well, it happened about 10 years ago. I had met my, um, prior husband in Asia. So I worked in Asia first. I, I struggle a lot with my identity growing up in Montreal and I wanted to, you know, just jump right in.

So I moved to Hong Kong for a few years. To work there just to, um, meet more Asian people, to be honest, and just understand my culture just a little bit better. And, uh, while I was out there, I met my last husband and essentially like I moved to the bay area and moving to the bay area was actually. It was, it was difficult for me because I didn’t come from the tech industry.

I had a, I dealt with a lot of reductions looking for work. I didn’t have the right technical background. So it was extremely difficult. So I, honeybee was not the first business that I try to start. I started a couple of other businesses where I try to crowdfund. Um, I have a crowdfunding campaign to raise money and it was, you know, it was, it was definitely a nice attempt and I learned a lot from it as well.

So I have to say, I didn’t really say I wanted to jump right in and be an entrepreneur. I think it just happened. A honeybee was really the result of my very own financial setback. And so that’s why I started what I started and just a little background on like a honeybee and some of the issues. Is that economic inequalities already existed even long before the pandemic.

So as we see today, you know, 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and have less than $500 in savings. And what that really means is that it creates a Dominic. Effect of like domino negative effects of light on paid bills, utilities shutting off and not to mention all the mental stress that comes with it.

So really what happened was I had gone through a divorce and my credit was negatively impacted. And I found myself in a situation where I just couldn’t get access to affordable credit. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And I was really embarrassed to ask for help. So I started looking at loans that I could get approved for and stumbled upon.

The payday industry, what the payday industry does today is they take advantage of an extremely vulnerable population in the U S I think it’s a $90 billion industry. And there’s a reason it’s extremely profitable is because they charge a outrageous. And, uh, I was out of the bay area. I couldn’t get approved for an apartment.

And so I ended up moving everything into storage and I moved back home to live in my parents’ basement in Montreal. It was a very humbling experience to say the least, but I reconnected with an old friend of mine from Montreal. He’s actually my co-founder today. And he came from FinTech. But what was most interesting is that his family had restaurants and they had about 70 employees or so, and every time an employee.

With an emergency, they would ask his dad for money and you can imagine the friction it causes in terms of the employer and employee relationship and collecting that money back is extremely awkward. And I felt it firsthand when my mom was the sole breadwinner for a household of five. She always relied on the loan issue with different her boss as well.

So. We knew that there was a way we can solve this through the employer channel because we kept hearing about it and employers lending money and how nobody talked about it. So I wouldn’t say I was inspired. I was mostly, you know, I stumbled upon an issue that I was facing and couldn’t. I couldn’t believe that it was a fundamental problem that was happening in the U S where, you know, the payday industry just took advantage of so many people.

So I gave it a shot. And here we are today, you know, how do you is working with employers? Um, anywhere from mid-market to enterprise to really provide free access to financial health, to their employees. And I think it’s something that’s a must have in the workplace. And so that’s how we start.

Maggie: (00:10:07)    Well, thank you so much for sharing that any, and I just wanted to thank you for being so transparent and honest with your story. And I think that it’s just such an inspiration to all of us, right? I think especially in Asian culture, we don’t like to ask for help. So we always just turn to ourselves and try to educate ourselves, but we really do have to educate ourselves by asking for help asking for financial advice. And to be honest, you know, like just reading some of your articles, you know, You did talk a lot about how they don’t even teach us about financial education in schools, which is like the biggest fundamental thing that we need to survive in our adulthood.

Right. And you’re absolutely right. Like the marginalized groups are denied mortgages at a much higher rate and, you know, as a person of color and as a woman too, you know, we get tested for financial knowledge all the time compared to let’s say like men are. So I really, really. You know, a lot of inspiration in your story.

Ennie : (00:11:01)     Well, thank you for that. And I think like a lot of us, you know, I don’t know about you, but my parents just taught me to save money. They’ll buy brand new things, like save, say, save don’t spend. And so that was the only thing I was taught and then we’re all expected to just figure it out after school. So I, I do believe that financial literacy should be at the forefront of education and in the world.

Maggie: (00:11:23)    Same. Yes. I mean, my parents have always taught me to just save to like wherever we could save, you know, like turn off the lights to conserve energy, turn on the heater, but they never teach us to invest or, you know, any like some mental knowledge of like financial education is I feel like in Asia households, it’s a very, very rare.

Ennie : (00:11:41)     Yeah, only here. It’s like don’t waste money. I feel here that today.

Bryan: (00:11:47)      Yeah, I still have that from my parents as well. Um, I mean, first of all, I want to acknowledge that it, isn’t easy to be in your position before to get out of that and sort of think about what you want to do next. I can’t imagine how that feels.

Right. And I didn’t need a lot of my podcasts. People don’t know that I actually failed a couple of businesses before to where I was like, oh no, like my life is over.

But I think it was humbling by your stories that you’re able to reinvent yourself relatively quickly and sort of think about the positive things. If nothing’s, we’re looking really bleak, you know, you moved home, you were reconnecting with people, you were thinking about probably the next venture, what are you going to do next?

So I think that gives us a lot inspiration on the types of things that you’re able to do in order to recover. So my question is be a second time founder, essentially. Um, Would you say that it’s more important to folks or the product or more, more important to focus on the distribution? That’s a question that I like to ask second time founders, because that is a hot debate that I’m always thinking about what is the right answer?

Because there is no right answer. I’m just curious what you think.

Ennie : (00:12:50)     Yeah, actually, that’s a great question. So it’s not a trick question. Um, but essentially this time around like that distribution’s really important. Like figuring out. Um, so we first started honeybee. We had this genius idea to Colorado collateralized loans against paid time off because a lot of that sits on the balance sheet today.

So although it was really great in theory, um, once we started going out to market talking to, um, Lawyers, they didn’t understand the concept. And so, yes, although it seemed like it was a great product at the time, but in terms of like selling and distribution, it became extremely difficult. So we have to shift it a little bit more to think about how are we going to sell this so that it’s easier for HR and employers to fully understand.

So this time around, we focus a lot on distribution and how important that was. So it depends on the business you’re building, but for us specifically, it was really important to focus on this.

Bryan: (00:13:44)    That’s it. That’s the answer again. I’m also a second time founders focused on distribution you the product out there for the park and market fit, but it’s hard to be right.

I think essentially it depends on what kind of product we tried to build.   

Ennie : (00:13:56)     Absolutely. It can be a great product, but nobody wants it.

Bryan: (00:14:04)    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, does it dive deep into like your first startup? We’re kind of curious, like what kind of things made the startup fail and what kind of lessons do you learn from that? And as we know, like as entrepreneurs, he always take every life experience that comes your way and incorporate it as you’re making new decisions for your new company. So for those who are listening right now, please take that risk because it always comes back in ways you’d never expect yeah. Trust the new, never expected to come in that, in that way.

Oh, wow. I’m glad I went through that. Let’s just talk through that real quick.

Ennie : (00:14:36)     I’m thinking about the first site, um, company. Product. I would say I built, I think a lot about shark tank and you know, Mr. Wonderful. I was like, that’s not a company, that’s a product. And so that really that’s really what I was. Right. So my family was in manufacturing and I build like sustainable baby product that was, had no packaging. It was provided. Uh, fair] treatment and fair wages for people and women that worked in south America. So I thought about a lot of the story of the product, building the product, um, getting the best, um, you know, textile, organic and certified.

I did all of that only to realize like maybe this isn’t a product that people want, because once I got into soar, there were other issues that are facing, um, like display for the product and all of that. So that when it became extremely difficult, that’s why. First time around. And if I had to look back, I would build a very different company last time around, but I crowdfunded, I learned a lot about resilience.

Building resilience is super important and how to handle rejection. And so I learned a lot about that last time and this time around. So I handled rejection, you know, it’s a work in progress, but I still I’ve improved a lot over the, over the years. And so, because. Stronger and you know, a lot thicker skin than I used to have.

Bryan: (00:15:56)     I love that. I love that. It’s a, it’s a rejection to the normal part of any entrepreneur game. Not everyone sees your vision and that’s okay. You know, you see the vision, but all you really need to in a day is a couple yeses. You really get the lifts of movies.

Ennie : (00:16:11)     Absolutely. And just remember to put things into perspective, right? Sometimes a no can open the door for something else. And I think that’s really important whether it’s just part of daily life, whether it’s a job, a pitch or a date, you know, rejection’s a part of life.

Maggie: (00:16:25)    Absolutely. Yes. That’s that is 100% true. I think like, as soon as the door closes on you, another door will open for you. And I think that we need, we all need to see failure as an opportunity. Now, I think this kind of led you into honeybee as well, and, um, which is like a good segue to talk about, you know, how your longtime friends, Benny and max had approached you about this prototype idea that they had for, uh, providing financial support through their employer channel.

So. You know, know a lot more about, you know, what this process looked like and how they approached you. What did that first conversation kind of look like? And then, you know, where you guys went from there? W what were those like first couple of days and months, like,

Ennie : (00:17:05)      Um, well, so I actually, I met both of them and Benny was, you know, I knew him from, um, you know, back in my college days. So I was just looking at, you know, what they were building in terms of, you know, what he was going through. And his first of all, life was on his dad was lending money to employees. And so it was a very basic car. Or it was just like, how do we provide loans to employees and house? And I think where I stepped in immediately was, um, what I learned from my last startup is like marketing and branding.

And it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, whether it’s a financial product, whether it’s a consumer product beauty, uh, you really have to tell a story in a way where, you know, people need to understand the why they buy, why you do it. You know what it is. And so that was really important to take a few steps back and sharing his story about like, why he started it in the first place.

It took a lot of digging. It’s like, well, why, why do you want to provide loans to employees? I know that I struggled financially myself and what I would like to see or. Women, especially to open up about their finances, ask for help. And I would love to have, you know, a startup that provided that in that kind of information, financial education, a place to go for help.

Like 72% of mental health stress is tied to financial, personal financial reasons. And I just wanted to build a product. We could have it as a financial health product benefit for employees. We talked about 401k for a very long time. I’m sure. 30 years ago, when in 401k was introduced, it’s not a completely crazy for employers to think about their employees retirement, but it’s just standard today.

So I think we have to take a step further and think about how can they. Fix their unplanned expenses. There are emergencies. A lot of people are not ready for retirement. They don’t have disposable income for retirement. So I would have to say, I wouldn’t say there was a first conversation. I was kind of part of multiple conversations and realize that, you know, we have to come up with a better product, a better story.

And then I think when it all came together, it was when we applied for YC, but we didn’t get into YC then. And it was, it was a learning experience for us is just not to give up. And I would continue to try and raise money for this idea, which we thought was really a necessity. So, so we’re still going

Bryan: (00:19:21)     congratulations, and, you know, carry that. Guy’s getting rejected. The why sees something in the world. Looking at Crunchbase for now, you guys end up still raising $4.2 million, which is absolutely amazing, you know, so it’s not an end of the world deal and get the YC. Not everyone needs to go YC succeed anyways. Um, so the next question I want to ask is I know you come, oh, you mentioned earlier, earlier that you know, your family’s in manufacturing.

So, you know, a lot about like building a business versus building a job in the lawsuit in forever. And it doesn’t feel like you’re running a business. How, what advice and how can you advise us on like growing your business? How do you scale correctly without it taking over your entire life and be like, oh my God, like I’m the meetings all the time.

I’m working in my business, not all my business, cause you’re a CEO. Right? You can’t be working in your business all the time. It’s not going to work that way. So what advice do you have because you have, you’re so unique. You have a manufacturing background where your parents did that and you have a startup background.

So how did you end up not first? First part is how do you end up not confusing the two in order to be like. Okay, how do I build my business? Not on my business.   

Ennie : (00:20:29)        That’s actually a really great question, Brian. I think when I was in my early twenties, I have to plan everything where I was going to work the industry. I wanted to be in the skills I needed to get promoted, where I wanted to live the type of person I needed to marry. How many kids I wanted to have. And. I say like none of those plans worked out for me. And, uh, I think a big part of, uh, building honeybees because life happened. And, and you asked, you asked a really good question about how do you separate the two as like job versus a founder or an entrepreneur is as a founder, our goal is to create successful business by creating value.

And there’s so many ways that you can choose to live, but if you choose the. Verner path. Um, you need to understand it’s not a regular job. More is expected of you, your brain, your heart. So figure out what you truly want to do and how you want to create that positive impact and do something that matters and pushes society forward.

But I think one really important part about being a leader is that it’s a daily task and the daily practice where responsible. For people who are responsible for the results and the best way to like for us, at least. And that worked for me is to drive performance by creating a really safe environment where people can make mistakes.

And it’s at the end of the day, how to retain the best people, how to attract the best people. And that’s something I had to learn along the way, because there are days where I’m like, why can’t I just work on the product? And like, you know, solving the problems in the workplace. And a lot of times. Sending myself managing people, but that’s part of the job is, you know, a CEO and founder is fundraising to keep this company going to have enough cashflow to keep us alive and continue to like scale.

That’s really important, but a big part of scaling is making sure you bring the right people on board. And, um, that talks, then we can talk about culture, building a positive culture. And also for me personally, it’s been really important to have. Diversified team. That’s extremely important for me. You have to do the extra work to do that.

Uh, but that’s really been important for me and not just on our team, but in our investors. And it’s important to have minorities, people of color women. And I actually just finished raising the last round and it was extremely hard to make sure. I think I spoke to about five women. I don’t know, a hundred that I have met, and it is really difficult because you have to put in the extra work, find people outside of your network.

And so, um, yeah, just make sure that you, you can balance, you know, that job that you say and that leadership, but leadership at the end of the day is, is a daily practice.

Bryan: (00:23:11)     You know, I think that’s super important that you continue to, you know, build your culture, like build a culture where is absolute sustainable. That’s the only way that you can do it. You know, you can’t delegate Roth bad. No, one’s gonna understand what the hell you’re thinking. It’s like a recipe for disaster. So then you’ve brought a really good point culture, you know, a delegation. The third thing that I think that we don’t emphasize enough, any type of podcast.

So as a CEO, founder of a startup, you’re always constantly fundraising company. You know, like you always have to network around, you always have to pop people in the pipeline. It just never ends. I just want you guys to listen to this podcast right now. Unfortunately, it’s, you’re scaling quickly. You’re always going to be fundraising.

Ennie : (00:23:57)        And the question that investors always say, are you fundraising the founders? I’m always, always fundraising, right? Regardless of whether you’re planning start the process in three months from now or six months from now, you always have to build a pipeline. And I have an entire spreadsheet of people I have constantly meeting and why they would be a good fit or.

Bryan: (00:24:19)     Definitely that process. I think most, almost new founders underestimate how long fundraising takes. You know, it honestly takes forever because you don’t want to accept any type of money that comes into your company, because let’s be honest. Your funny money is not the heart, but funny money that fits her vision. It’s straight.

Ennie : (00:24:40)        It’s a numbers game at the end of the day, right? There is millions of people out there, men and women that you couldn’t meet, but you know, you have to, it’s a numbers game and you have to just keep going.

Bryan: (00:24:52)     Yeah. Unfortunately that applies dating applies to everything in life. This is fundraising. It’s hard.

Ennie : (00:25:01)      Even that relationship building, like the first time you have a conversation, you want to provide some information, but not too much information and not for them to stick around. So yes, it’s applicable to, you know, um, dating life as well.

Bryan: (00:25:15)     Can you actually paint that picture for us? Those founders who are fundraising? What is a, what is a pipeline look like? I know a lot of people have. Concession there headway. So I meet people, I find investors and I started the money. Right. It just, not that simple. So I want to hear from your process, like, what is your starting process? What do you look for and how do you organize everything?

Ennie : (00:25:34)      Yeah. So it’s organized in groups of people that first of all, when you look for an investor, are you not just looking for people with money, you have to make sure that they’re investing in the right stage of the company. Um, That’s super important, the stage of the company and what their thesis is and like what they’re willing to invest.

I’ve, uh, that’s extremely important because a lot of, um, you know, a lot of female investors investing like consumer products, right. That’s not necessarily a good thing for us. So essentially you have to look at, you know, already gonna look at what have they invested in before. I think that’s really important.

You have to do that due diligence and making sure what are they passionate about? So that, you know, it seems interesting for your company, my team, interesting to them, it was completely outside of the realm. Like FinTech is not something they’re familiar with. It’s not something they ever dive into. Uh, chances are, they’re not going to be really interested in what you’re doing.

So that’s the first thing. And you put it into categories of, yeah, there are going to be priorities of people that you want. To, to come in as lead investors. And that’s important. Some people lead, some people don’t. So you have to prioritize those that lead because you do need that first investor. That’s going to lead their out to kick off the

Bryan: (00:26:45)     process for our listeners. What is the lead investor?

Ennie : (00:26:47)      So lead investors is essentially is, um, the investor that’s doing all the due diligence, right? A lot of due diligence goes into pricing around for, um, a startup and that’s. About six to eight weeks of work. And so that’s, um, investor will lead around and it matters who needs around because other investors will be like, well, do I like this investor?

Do I want to work with this person? So, yes, it’s a lot of relationship building and you have to do a lot of doodles. On your end as a, as a founder. Um, unfortunately I’m not one of those that had multiple successful startups where I can just call them and they signed something on a napkin. I hear those stories all the time.

I see it from my friends. Um, I did not go through that experience. So I had an entire spreadsheet of people that I should talk to. Who can introduce you to those people because you know, as much as they say, oh yeah, pitch to us in a cold email, those cold emails never get looked at. So you absolutely need to find someone to introduce you.

You look at their portfolio companies and who you could reach out to in your founder networks. So it requires a lot of work and yes, I didn’t, um, I didn’t get it on a napkin, but, um, but I do believe that, you know, you can find the right investors with, uh, with the right processes.

Bryan: (00:28:03)     No, this is the reason why we want to have you in the podcast, you know, compared to like another founder who had it, let’s be honest. Someone else had it much easier. They wouldn’t give us the straight answer. I went out there and I raised money. What’s hard. That’s so hard about this. You know, want to have someone that’s struggle. Um, that builds character and it tells us like, okay, this is actually a lot more relatable to a lot of us because a lot of us don’t have these type of connections.

You know how, like a lot of us out there to be honest, very small percentage of lessons like Carver, Sanford. And we to make our way around and still succeed.   

Ennie : (00:28:36)      Oh, you welcome.

Maggie: (00:28:38)    Yeah. And on that topic, you know, you, you, you talked about rejection as well. I think a lot of founders are used to are first time founders. Right. And we do have to understand that we’ll get rejected all the time as entrepreneurs, as founders. And I read that, you know, you went through like a hundred VCs and we’re down to like $200 in your bank account. When you finally got your first check from investors. Talk about that experience.] Like what was going through your mind at the time when you were down to. Your last $200 in your account?

Ennie : (00:29:09)      We were crashing and our third co-founders, um, our, one of our co-founders, um, couches at this time, like both Benny and I were just, honestly, I wasn’t, it was always, um, yes. Okay. We’re down to the last few hundred dollars in our bank account, but we just never thought of the process is like giving up. B’s uh, remaining investors a shot and see what happens.

Like we just never thought of, you know, if it fails, okay, what do we have to do? We’re going to have to start, uh, you know, looking for jobs and it’s not the end of the world. Right? I think a big part of it is yeah, just part of the process, but we never thought about. Um, giving up for a single second. It was always, let’s just keep going and let’s just keep pitching and I’m sure after, um, I dunno, like 10 more investors, we would have kept going and until we were a little bit stubborn, so he, we don’t give up that easy.

And even the last round was a very long process. And, um, and so I just kept going because I think, well, I was thinking, which is different than, um, the first time around us. We didn’t have employees back then. Right. It was just. It wouldn’t be the end of the world. The three of us, um, have to part ways, but this time around, I had a lot more at stake.

I have people that believe in what we’re doing, our mission. I have customers, I have employers, I have employees. And so there was a lot more at stake, but I think you’re always in the same mindset. You just gotta to keep going. You have to find the right investors and. Always just keep networking. I think a big part that was really important because people that invested in on this round was completely outside of my network six months ago.

And, and so you just have to keep talking to people. You never know where that can lead you.

Bryan: (00:30:51)     Also, part of the reason why we created. So we could support each other.  

Ennie : (00:30:57)     Yeah, absolutely. And just part of Asian hustle now where you have a large network of entrepreneurs. And so that’s, I’m, I have to give props to both of you for creating that community. I think, uh, you’ve really created a community where we feel proud to be Asian entrepreneurs. I think it was very difficult for a very long time where, um, we found each other because. No, our parents were like, oh, you’re not doctors, you’re not lawyers. You’re taking a risk. You’re, you know, uh, living paycheck to paycheck.

And I think like that’s hard for a lot of parents. And so, so I really thank you both for creating this community.   

Bryan: (00:31:32)     No, thank you. Cause you, you are inspiration to us. You know, like I said before, we, we been keeping your eye on you and following you for awhile, uh, look tracking your progress and finally had the courage to reach out to you and talk to you. Um, so thank you for. So the next question I have is, is regarding, but the answer you just gave us, right. Or the previous answer before that, where it’s like, you have to be gritty and you have to continue talking to people. I’ll be okay. Rejection. So this question is kind of like, uh, it’s a true or false type of question.

So like, do you believe, do you believe that it’s more important for startup founders to be more gritty or more.

Ennie : (00:32:09)     Ooh, I’m going to say gritty because I think like, um, I guess in that you mean like hustling, right? Hustling really hard. Of course intelligence is extremely important, but, uh, I really believe that you need to have that hustle kind of mindset. You know, I know you guys call it Asian hustle network, but, um, you kind of need that mindset to think of an idea and think that, oh yeah. I need $4 million, um, to help fund this idea offers nothing. And that’s kind of crazy, right? So it is you, you gotta have the hustle mindset and just keep going because you know, you’re going to, if you fail, you got to fail fast and pick yourself up and do it again.

And I think it’s, um, it’s, I’ve, I’ve done it. A couple of times, I would say last year, like products less so, and then a company, but you got to have that hustle mindset. And I see it from a lot of founders. Yes. They have a high intelligence, but you have to keep, you know, hustling for that money. You know, it’s extremely difficult.

So that would be my answer. I’m sure it would be different answers from different founders, but you do need a combination of both. And I think that’s important. I think I have, um, if I’m going to. I have more of the hustle mindset now.

Bryan: (00:33:23)     You’re definitely very, very smart. Um, I do agree. I didn’t get super important as great as you going. And to be honest, like you have to blend you believe into your passion because no one else is going to believe. Not actually, you know, um, next question I’m gonna ask is kind of personal. I hope this is okay for me to ask, but can you talk a little bit more about your darker moments of being an entrepreneur and what the moment was like, especially moments where no, one’s around to sort of comfort you. And you’re looking at yourself in a mirror at night and you’re asking yourself, why am I doing this? Why am I continue doing this? And you feel the way of the world on your shoulders, especially as you’re continuously trying to make payroll. Your revenue, you’re not hitting your target goals or your revenue.

Um, how do you continue pushing through those dark moments? Because this is the part. No, a lot of us like make entrepreneurship. So glamorous, like, oh, nice car, nice house, you know, cool network called parties. But no one talks about like the hustle, dark moments where you’re looking at yourself in so much doubt that it is like, damn, like, can I continue doing this? Can you share some of your experience with us?

Ennie : (00:34:30)      You know, that’s a very important topic to talk about like mental health when it comes to entrepreneurship. It is, um, it is extremely difficult. I think I struggled with it for many years and I think what made me comfortable talking about it was a community of other entrepreneurs. They were actually all happened to be Asian entrepreneurs and kind of share that struggle because you see them at a much later stage of, um, their startup and you think, okay, everything’s so great now.

And then they’ll tell you, you know, It doesn’t get easier. It gets actually, it gets harder as you become bigger and bigger. And a lot of them would say, oh, I envy the position you’re in. You’re actually able to innovate. And you know, you still have a small team where you can manage that innovation. Like they can make changes in their later stage companies and one common.

One common practice that we all have as entrepreneurs is a lot of us have a coach or a therapist that we talked to. We write in our journals. And that was really helpful for me. I think at the beginning, you’re like, well, I have never had like a therapist or, you know, a coach, but actually helped me put things into perspective and have a conversation with someone that is not related to my business.

And they see it from a dental. Perspective and that’s helped me out a lot. I think a lot of the stress of investors has really gotten to me a lot of times because they want you to scale scale scale. And sometimes they want you to pivot your business into less impactful and like more, make sure you monetize more from a vulnerable population.

And I think like that was against everything I believed in. And I learned that the hard way. That’s why when you’re fundraising, you have to make sure you find the right investors that have the right intentions for your business. And so it’s an awful. Process to kind of deal with, um, that stress. But one thing that’s helped me tremendously is a community of people that I can go to, to bounce ideas off of and use them as a sounding board.

And, and I think a lot of times you’re like, oh, I, I feel embarrassed to ask for, you know, I’ll do pitch practices with, uh, founders. There are a lot, you know, There are veterans, I would say. And I’m embarrassed sometimes like, oh, you know, to see how, um, I’m just an early stage startup, but you know, a lot of people are willing to help you if you just ask for help.

And so that’s helped me a lot in all of this is the community that I’m surrounded by. And a lot of them happen to be Asian founders.

Maggie: (00:36:58)     I love that. Yeah. That, I mean, that resonates with us so strongly because that’s one of the reasons why we created Asian health and that we’re to create a community of Asian entrepreneurs and people who just resonate with you or who go through the same experience with you, a community is really what you know, brings you forward.

My next question is, um, I know you talked to a lot of women. I know with your, one of your missions for honeybee is to redefine diversity, equity and inclusion at other companies. Um, and just talking to so many women, you know, I know you mentioned that, you know, one of the main reasons why a lot of people get adore or don’t get divorces is because of finance reasons, right?

A lot of people are afraid of what will happen to them after, or one person depends on the other person or vice versa. Right? And speaking to that, I, I, I think at what a lot of women want to find out is like, if they are in that situation, because one of the reasons why I created this company is because from your personal experience as well, how did you kind of go through that transition process and immerse yourself into, you know, financial knowledge, you know, educate yourself on, you know, what you needed to know in terms of financial knowledge.

What would be your advice to other women who are going through like similar struggles like that?

Ennie : (00:38:09)      Um, well I think the one thing I will say is, you know, when I, um, got divorced and I, I was really open about it for a while. And when I was doing honeybee, I didn’t want to talk about it because you, you know, Oh, yeah, you struggled financially, um, yourself, but I realized that was a pivotal moment when I started sharing about why I’m building honeybee, why it’s important for women to have more control of money.

Because I found myself in a situation where I felt helpless and I didn’t have anywhere to go to for help. And once I opened up about that, the flood gates of women that reached out to me, whether it was personal, complete strangers, Thank you for help because they just wanted to relate to someone because we all, you know, at the end of the day, we all seem like, oh, we’re well put together, but we’re going through a lot financially.

I’ve heard all kinds of stories of women that are hesitating to yeah. Take have a divorce because they’re afraid of what’s going to happen to them after it’s a very difficult process and extremely emotionally and financially draining process for, for anyone to go through. And so that’s important to keep in mind, but always be prepared.

Like you can prepare yourself for. The common things I wish I would have done is, you know, open my bank account, understand a little bit more about like how that credit score is built. Um, you know, when it’s a joint account. And so all of that information, um, if I had it early, I, it would have been completely different process for me.

And so what I, you know, it wasn’t about. Uh, learning about everything in FinTech, because there’s so much to learn, but it was about making sure that people, um, that are leaders and C-levels are sharing their own setbacks and difficulties. And that’s a big part of how we bring employers on as champions is that the C level should explain a little bit more about, you know, how, um, they’ve had to overcome financial setback.

It will inspire other people to. You know, create that change and to start learning about financial education, passing it onto your kids. And that’s why today we have what we call the honey academy, where parents and their kids can learn about financial literacy together. And I think that’s the most important part is like, let’s have the authentic desire to continue to share our stories and our setbacks so that we can inspire other people to overcome like personal finances is actually pretty basic, but it’s, it’s a scary.

It’s a scary topic to learn because you have to look at your bank account, how to balance debt, um, you know, all of the above and a lot of, um, people that work with us, you know, they have a lot of debt. They are single mothers. They have bar, you know, just constantly struggling to get by. So. Let’s just give them, you know, inspiration to continue to move forward.

And I think it’s one step at a time. It is really important. You can’t go from bankruptcy to, I want to buy a house. Like let’s just think about the step by step process. Even for me, I’m thinking about, should I renew my next like 15 month lease? Because it’s something to think about, right? Yeah. And I think that’s something it’s an ongoing process for me as a founder because the startup is my baby and I, you know, we work at 12 months at a time runway and that’s, that’s just how it works.

Right. So I didn’t go in learning everything about FinTech. I definitely do not know everything, but it’s just a continue to inspire people to share stories is the most important.

Bryan: (00:41:25)     Awesome. That’s all humbling to hear, you know, you always, this is a constant journey and fearlessly also, also constantly improving yourself. So, um, I’m kind of curious to, y’all the way that you frame the narrative for honeybee. It’s like, you know, as you know, like anything with financial education is also awesome. Tons of link to like scams MLM schemes. And how do you develop that narrative or your position, your company as a company? You know, especially breaking to FinTech, like how do you position that to be like, look guys, this is what we’re about. We’re legit, you know, you’re talking about, it’s not an MLM. I’m pretty sure, like a lot of investors have asked that question. Like, how’s this MLM houses adding value people’s lives. Like how do you position your company to have a stronger narrative on your.

Ennie : (00:42:13)       Yeah, I think, um, day one was extremely difficult because we were nobodies and we hadn’t done any press. I haven’t told any stories. And so immediately, um, when we’re talking to companies, so this is too good to be true. So. So there’s a lot of things that we started putting in place, uh, becoming a certified benefit corporation. What that means is it helps us balance, purpose, and profit, and that immediately, you know, gives you the stamp of approval. You have to go through quite a long audit process to make sure that, you know, um, to make sure that you know, what your stakeholder, who your stakeholders are and, uh, what is your purpose, your mission. And that’s really important. So that’s the first step we did. And the second step is what I, um, I spoke about earlier is like, I openly shared my story.

And then that allowed us to bring a lot of visibility for employers. You know, when you have an article out there and you’re like, okay, she just opened up about, you know, the emotional and financial rock bottom that she hit, like would love it, got a little bit more interest in people finding out who we are.

And, and after that is making sure those customers share stories. So that. That’s essentially what we do continuously. And part of my job is constantly sharing stories with other people about how it’s positively impacted their lives. Um, so what, what I do a lot is I listened to our customer service calls and I, every once in a while, I would want to reach out to one of those customers and hear a little bit more about her journey and how honeybee has helped her.

So it helps me understand, you know, we are constantly. Brand a product fundraising, but we should never forget the people that we’ve impacted directly. So recently I spoke to a mom and she’s a single mother. She has four kids. One of them was in the Marines and he was unable. He didn’t have any money to fly back home from South Carolina to the bay area to see his mom.

And it’s been well over a year. And what honeybee did is helped him pay for that air to get right, so that he could see his family. A lot of that is personal travels, not covered, of course. And that was extremely important for her because it’s been so long and you can imagine how difficult it is to have, you know, someone, um, That’s in the Marine that’s away for so long. So those are the stories I constantly just tried to pick up so that I understand like how to build our product even better for them making sure they have a really great user experience and constantly getting feedback is, is extremely important because we don’t just want to hear the perfect, like, oh, that was a really great process, but we want to hear about like, what’s not going right so that we can fix it.

So, so I think that’s really important part of the process.

Bryan: (00:45:02)     Yeah. I mean, definitely. Thanks for sharing that. And you know, just a clarification earlier, I didn’t meet MLM or all scams and I know there’s yeah, I didn’t want to cause confusion were there. Yeah, I didn’t want that at all. Sorry. I apologize for the confusion guys, uh, for our listeners, um, uh, I mean, Emmy, like you’re doing a lot, right. You know, you’re raising money, you’re ready and help me. How do you take care of yourself and how do you avoid burnout? Like there’s, are there activities that you do, do you set aside time everyday to meditate these set of time, time to exercise, play sports?

Like how do you take care of your yourself and your mental health?

Ennie : (00:45:47)        Um, exercising is really important. I used to wake up really early and just like, get the workout out of the way. But since, uh, the pandemic, I have to say, I kind of, you know, sleep in a little bit later. And then I work out later in the day. Um, before we, we were constantly felt like a hamster wheel that you’re on. You have to wake up early, had to go to the office. You have to get from, uh, you know, the office to the workout and then get ready and then go back to the office and you’re constantly running. But, um, this remote working has allowed us to slow down.

I feel be more, a lot more productive. I think that’s my personal opinion. I’ve been a lot more productive than I ever used to be. And so I working out super important. I have, you know, I joined, uh, I have a spin bike, so I work out on that and also walking around outdoors is something I’ve never appreciated before until the pandemic happened.

Well, ticky a walk in the neighborhood and I’m lucky enough where I live close to the beach. I’ve always wanted to walk on the beach like every day. And so that’s, um, I have the luxury to do that. So that’s extremely important for me. But in addition to that is, um, what you mentioned meditation, right? So that’s an ongoing process, but like I’ve been working a lot at it over the last couple of years, and I do think it’s important to just take a step back online and just do nothing.

And. Thinking about, you know, absolutely nothing and just be able to clear out and, and have like, if you’re having a bad day, you put everything on the court one day, you just have to take a step back and do it again the next day. I think it’s, it’s hard to avoid burnout, but you know, taking time off is really.

Bryan: (00:47:21)     I love that. I was literally just having that same thought like a couple of days ago, like right before the pandemic waking up at like 4:00 AM, like we have to stick with the schedule. I’m just like, how are we even like surviving? We’re like just some zombie mode, but I think the pandemic has really like forced us to just take a step back and reflect, okay, what is going to be in our like self-care, self-love resume and, you know, make sure that we’re making time for ourselves.

So I love, you know, everything that you’re doing for your.

Ennie : (00:47:48)      And I think we tried new things. I mean, during the pandemic, I’m like, oh, maybe I’ll paint. And it turns out in a really terrible pager, not very long, but you know, I did one paint day and I’m like, I don’t think I want to show this to anybody ever.

There was like puzzles for awhile, but then what I realized, like, what do I do with the puzzles after is my struggle. And so I can’t keep framing up all of my puzzles, but essentially I try to think of other things that I could, you know, just take my mind off of it.   

Maggie: (00:48:17)     Yeah, I love it. So, any, what is your goal for the next year? Um, and for honeybee as well? Like what do you have in plans and what are your big audacious goals?

Ennie : (00:48:29)      Um, big goals for us is of course it’s really important, you know, where we, we found product market fit. Some of the most challenging time the world’s ever seen, like during the pandemic, we realized employers were willing to spend money on financial health. Um, regardless of whether they were cutting, uh, hours budget, reducing their workforce, they were willing to pay for it. I think for us, it’s really important to have, um, even larger employers to bring this on their workforce and for us to bring on larger enterprise companies. And start making it a must have rather than a nice to have.

And I think that’s really important for us. And of course, like growing our team, um, finding the right people to join our team is always extremely the whole world. It is. Um, it’s an ongoing challenge that. Uh, CEO’s have to go through is to find the right people because the first, I dunno, 28 people, part of your company, it’s important that they have an entrepreneur mindset also, and they’re willing to adapt and to the change very quickly.

So you have to find people that are, um, willing to get on this crazy startup journey. So I think that’s, that’s going to be our next goals for the next year.

Maggie: (00:49:39)     Well, we’re w we’re very excited for, you know, just hearing more about yourself in honeybee and the next year as well. And we have one final question for you any, and that is if you could give one advice to an aspiring entrepreneur, what would that advice.

Ennie : (00:49:53)     Um, the one advice I would have to say is yeah. Building resilience and how to handle rejection gracefully. That is, I guess that’s like to advice, but you know, it’s related to each other. How to handle rejection gracefully is really important not to take it all personal and always to put it in perspective.

Um, So one of the example is, you know, you’re pitching to an investor that you really want, but it’s really important to think about, you know, the position they’re in, right. They’re getting deals all the time and they have to pick a handful of deals, um, that, that year. And so I put that into perspective. And so just not to take things too personally.   

Maggie: (00:50:33)      Amazing. Thank you for that advice and any, where can our listeners find out more about you and honeybee online?

Ennie : (00:50:40)     Uh, well, our website is needs honeybee.com and E T be.com. Or you can follow me on Twitter. I don’t tweet a lot, but like at any limb is my hand.

Maggie: (00:50:55)      Amazing. We will be sure to leave all of those in the show notes for this podcast episode, but any, it was so amazing having you on our podcast today. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Bryan: (00:51:04)     Thank you for having me Maggie and Brian.

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