Women 2.0 sits down with Mercer Henderson, a 13-Year Old Entrepreneur from San Francisco, to discuss Mandarin, Hamilton, Funny Sisters and her latest app!
W2: What were some of the factors that led you to become an entrepreneur
MH: Well, I am always trying to solve problems in creative ways. I had an idea for an app and decided it would be a fun, new experience to try and make it happen. Also, there are not many girls leading tech companies so I wanted to try.
W2: How has your past experience gotten you to where you are now?
MH: I have tried a lot of things. For example, I am working on my pilot's license and learning Mandarin...those things are pretty hard and give me confidence to try other things. I know it's okay to fail because you can always try again.
W2: What problem did you see in the market that inspired you to start your company?
MH: With my new app, Friendits, the idea came because I have some friends that have lots of things (clothes, shoes, gadgets) and some friends with very little. Many times, I’ve experienced my friends coming to me to borrow things, so I decided to create an app to make the process easier and a lot more fun. I like to say we're "changing the world one closet at a time."
W2: What type of customers do you serve?
MH: I built it for me and my friends, but anyone who has a trusted network that they would want to borrow stuff from, is a potential customer. We all have 15-20 people we would go to if we needed something, so I built it with that in mind.
W2: Why is your solution uniquely positioned to address their problem?
MH: I focus on your private network of friends, managing the exchanges and returns via SMS and I have a "keep it" feature so when you are done with something or it does not fit, you can give it to someone else. It is as easy as Instagram but it connects you to make an exchange of stuff with your friends.
W2: What's the biggest challenge your company has faced so far and how did you handle it as a company and as a leader?
MH: I am in the 8th grade - I have high school exams, homework, musical theater and birthday parties that keep me super busy. I have also missed a few days of school to do interviews and appearances so I have a lot of homework to catch up on.
W2: What resources have been especially helpful to you as you’ve built your company?
MH: My mom. She organizes everything I need to review, test, whatever so I can do it all quickly. My team is super awesome and fast, too.
W2: What’s your morning routine?
MH: Alexa wakes me up at 6:37 a.m. I shower, dry my hair and rush to get dressed then my mom makes me a "momelette" (special mom super thin cheese, tomato and ham or bacon omelette).
W2: What’s the best productivity hack you’ve found?
MH: I put an index card with 3 important things I need to get done that day. I see it when I dry my hair in the morning- it reminds me and helps me focus.
W2: What do you do to get grounded and recharge?
MH: I go to bed early so I get a least 11 hrs of sleep. For fun and to recharge, I surf or ride my hover board around the house.
W2: What makes you laugh?
MH: My little sister. She is always doing funny stuff.
W2: What are you reading or listening to right now?
MH: I am listening to Sia, The Color Purple, Hamilton and the new Lady Gaga. I am reading my homework (studying the Constitution which I know a lot about from Hamilton).
W2: Based on your experience, what’s the biggest takeaway you can give to other Founders?
MH: Build something for you and the people you know. Always, always give back.
W2: What’s next for you and your company and where do you need help or support?
MH: I may raise some funding so I can do things faster, but not until I am done with finding the right high school (so like, January). I also would like to do more press and media because it really does help me get more users.