Becoming a Company Founder
Jinesh Shah, ’15
Jinesh has known since middle school that he wanted to be his own boss one day. The conviction to start his own company was solidified during the 2008 recession when his father, an engineer, was laid off and his family went through some trying times. Jinesh realized that starting his own company would give him control over his destiny and ownership over his financial security. The only problem—he didn’t know how he was going to put himself in a position to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Through his internship at a startup in Detroit, Jinesh met Scott Lowe, a 2012 Fellow working as an early employee of the company. Scott really loved his experience at a startup; he had tons of responsibility and really enjoyed the work that he was doing. Scott encouraged Jinesh to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship through Venture for America and Jinesh realized that VFA could help him decide what kind of company he wanted to start and find someone to start it with.
Meeting an NBA Superstar and a Co-Founder
Several months into his Fellowship in Miami, Jinesh and the Miami cohort had the opportunity to get together with VFA supporter and former NBA star, Shane Battier. Shane initiated introductions by having everyone around the table talk about their startup jobs, skills and passions. Leigh Sevin, a 2014 Miami Fellow, heard Jinesh talking about his design and coding chops and she immediately perked up. Jinesh was in the class below her and Leigh hadn’t had much of a chance to get to know him, so she asked him out for coffee to pitch him on an idea she was working on. Leigh had the sales and business acumen, but needed a coder and designer like Jinesh to supplement her skills. Jinesh liked what Leigh had to say and agreed to work with her. He had just become a part of the VFA community and had already found a company he could work on and someone he could work with!
We get to work on our company stress-free, because we don’t have to worry about a safety net. The Accelerator took so many of our stressors away so we can focus on building our company.
Getting off the Ground
Working together on an e-commerce business, Jinesh and Leigh entered VFA’s Innovation Fund as a team, with the goal of applying to the VFA Accelerator when the time came. The Innovation Fund gave Jinesh and Leigh a chance to test their idea in the market and iterate based on the feedback they were getting from the VFA community. They finished the Innovation Fund with $6,000 in seed funding to get started.
Growing Their Business
Today, Jinesh and Leigh are working on Arthur, a personal styling service that connects clients with the talent and expertise of a real stylist without the restrictions of time and geography. A stylist collaborates with the client to determine their needs, and introduces them to the right trends for their lifestyle.
We can’t wait to see where Arthur will go with the support of the VFA network!