Wandy Hoh, Co-founder & CEO of MeeGenius!, talks about becoming a “mompreneur” with a mission, the culture she’s built at MeeGenius, and how the company is growing by leaps and bounds!
After more than 10 years working in the investment world, you left to start MeeGenius. What led you to create this organization? What is its mission?
As a busy, working mom, I found that I was constantly encouraging my three children to read yet didn’t have enough hours every day to do it with them. It was because of this personal challenge that I founded MeeGenius to help other parents embrace the technology they already have with the reading their children love to do. Technology is the best avenue for us to fulfill our mission: to inspire a love of reading within each child.
MeeGenius has certainly disrupted the children’s book market! Why is your app so attractive to parents and kids alike?
MeeGenius users tell us they love our content and convenience. There is a little bit of magic the first time a child first sees an e-book come to life with illustrations, narration, and our unique word highlighting. Parents appreciate our curated library filled with the themes, categories, and titles their children enjoy. Additionally, the convenience of having the MeeGenius library across any device and platform makes reading available anytime. As a mom of three, convenience is key for my family!
I’ve read that your parents each built a variety of businesses in Hong Kong and the United States – it seems entrepreneurism runs in your family! Did you always think you’d end up starting your own business?
After spending a decade in investment banking, the “family bug” of entrepreneurism finally bit me! Creating and running an organization I feel so passionately about is incredibly fulfilling. The best part is that I am able to go home to my children every night and use MeeGenius with them; it is the only type of work I’d ever want to bring home with me again.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business? If you could go back in time and start the company over again, would you do anything differently?
I believe that budding entrepreneurs should build a business around their personal passions – from family to hobbies and everything in between. Passion will help in the tough times and will make everything worthwhile. My family is my passion, so I wanted to create a business that was based on their needs and wants. I wouldn’t have done anything differently when I started MeeGenius, as I look at every success and challenge along the way a building block. My family has, in turn, been there supporting me through it all which has been incredibly helpful.
I hear that your organization is expanding in leaps and bounds! What jobs are you trying to fill right now? What can a candidate do to shoot to the top of your list during the interview process?
I start every interview by asking the candidate to share three adjectives that describe them. I believe that being able to showcase personality right away sets the tone for the interview. Candidates are then able to continue to show their true self when discussing accomplishments as well as mistakes, which makes for a very open dialogue. MeeGenius is a mobile-first, technology company, so the majority of our new hires are focused on technology management and development. We’re looking for great people who love reading as much as we do!
We often talk about the importance of cultural fit when it comes to hiring the right people. How would you describe the culture at MeeGenius?
While our entire staff loves reading, we also try to incorporate lots of passions and principals into our workplace culture. For example, I am a strong believer in feng shui so two gold lions guard our office entrance, and our COO’s desk faces Northeast based on his birthday. As we have gotten larger, we also created weekly “lunch roulette” which creates opportunities for employees within different departments to interact with each other. We all have a common goal of making MeeGenius the best it can be, so we want employees to feel their best while at work.
Wandy Hoh is the Co-founder & CEO of MeeGenius! She holds a BA cum laude in Business Economics from UCLA and an MBA from Columbia Business School. She is fluent in Chinese and resides in New York City with her husband and three young daughters. Follow Wandy on Twitter at @WandyHoh