Young Entrepreneurs: A Conversation With Diane Keng

by Dea Surjadi on November 5, 2010

This is part of the Young Entrepreneur series. Diane Keng is co-founder/marketing director of MyWeboo.com, a service that helps people manage their social network accounts and online personas. Diane founded the company when she was still a senior in high school in California. She now signs $100,000 investment deals for her business.

What is MyWeboo and how did it started?

MyWeboo is a revolutionary intelligence service that helps people discover and share interesting contents in real-time. We offer an intuitive user interface to browse through real-time information, integrate deeply with social networks to facilitate sharing, and provide a recommendation engine that finds relevant contents automatically.

Why social media? Aren’t there enough social media ventures already?

We began as a social media aggregator. We were one of the first in this market. Then we evolved into a content manager. Users continued to manage all their social media from one place, but now they could actually push content out rather than just pulling in the newsfeeds from all their social media. Now there are a couple of other directions we were testing out.

We are in the Web 2.0 market, but we aren’t a social media site. We involve sharing, however we are primarily focused on the concepts of Discover, Consume, and Share.

Why did you think about starting your own business when you were still in high school? Most people normally go through the most traveled route of doing it after a few years of experience after graduating from college. Did it not seem like an odd concept at all?

Like every other high schooler, I wanted more money to buy junk food. At the time I was 15 and could not legally work anywhere so I decided to run my own business. I was part of DECA, an association of marketing students and it’s provided me with tons of information when it comes to business and marketing.

Odd? Not really. Everybody fails sometime in their life, so why not try out entrepreneurship.

If things didn’t go as planned, I had less to lose compared to trying out a business when you’re older. I was proud of my business and the profit I was bringing in!

Who were your most helpful resources throughout the whole startup process?

Personally, I’ve followed TechCrunch and Guy Kawasaki’s blogs. They provided a ton of information to help me improve and excel.

However, the most important resource was probably my mom. She was there to help me when I was feeling beaten and to listen when life presents me with obstacles.

Did you ever feel like your age come across as a challenge internally/externally? Meaning, did you ever feel like you were lacking experience? And how do people react to you running a business at such a young age? What were the other main challenges you faced when you first started and how did you deal with them?

My age often times is viewed as a disadvantage. I do lack corporate experience, but I bring to the table a fresh outlook on marketing. I come up with creative ideas and execute them with an energy and passion that only I have.

Many times I feel that I lack the experiences in the field. However, I know that I’m still young and I’ll have many chances to work for a large corporation. Startups, on the other hand, are exciting and unpredictable.

Another huge challenge I encountered this past year had to do with time management. Working with MyWeboo full time while going to school full time takes a huge toll on my life. I only have 24 hours in a day. Seven of those hours, I need sleep. At least 1-2 hours need to be dedicated to eating. I have class during the day. On top of that, I need time to study/do homework and, of course, work on marketing for MyWeboo.

However, I think I have got my time 100% managed at this point. It didn’t happen overnight. There were many sleepless nights.

The age factor at work didn’t affect me TOO much. Typically I don’t disclose my age. Why do people need to know anyways?

Was it nerve-wrecking standing in front of a bunch of investors to present your business plan? How did you survive that?

It is always nerve-wrecking to speak with investors. It is also exhilarating. I was always worried they would be jerks and bombard me with questions I wouldn’t know how to answer.

However, it typically is the first time they meet you and so the questions never become too advanced. It’s exhilarating when we score private meetings with investors.

My biggest advice: Don’t Psych Yourself Out.

This advice can be applied to anything in life.

Any personal/professional goals that you’d like to accomplish within the next 5 years?

Within the next five years, I am hoping MyWeboo can become huge. I would like to finish college and work for a large corporation.

Anything else that young business owners out there should know about running a successful business (or those who’d like to start their own businesses)?

Take that first step. Do some research online. There are tons of articles for startups, but if you never take that first step, you’ll never know what it’s like to have a business.

For those with a business already, keep your eyes on the prize. The journey to it will be different for everybody, but you need to take your own path.

Also, add the MyWeboo fan page! We offer tons of social media, entrepreneurship, and marketing help!

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Image courtesy Diane Keng and used with her permission

Dea Surjadi is a freelance public relations professional specializing in media relations and social media. Having worked in various newsrooms including television, radio, and the web, Dea applies her journalism and marketing background to the PR industry. A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, you can reach Dea through email: dea[dot]surjadi[at]gmail[dot] com, or connect with her on Twitter.

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