Summarize your life in a few sentences
My life is pretty flexible. Most of my week is spent working on my website, PDF Pro. This means that although my days can get very busy and filled with work, I can also pick and choose what hours/days I work. I feel very lucky to have this life!
What’s your background?
I’m a London-based software engineer entrepreneur. I have experience working as a software developer for other companies in addition to my own.
How did you start your business?
PDF Pro was an idea I had while at work. At the time, I was looking for a solution to edit some PDF files online. When I couldn’t find a great solution online, I decided this could be a good web application to build. I built PDF Pro to include a lo of the features I was looking for in a PDF editor such as the ability to merge PDFs, convert a PDF to an image, and add signatures to PDF files. I started it as a side business as I didn’t want to leave my stable job (and salary) to work on it full time.
What inspired you as a creative woman?
The potential to work for myself! I love having so much flexibility and working from home. The best motivation though is having customers who love your product. I really like getting great feedback, and this pushes me to make the site better.
What was your first job ever? Any funny or memorable story?
My first job was in retail – selling women’s clothes. It taught me that I needed to work hard so I could have a job that was more mentally challenging. The only funny story I can think of is when these new fancy glass sliding doors were put in the front of the shop. The shop manager was so proud of the new swish doors. However, the glass on the doors wasn’t very obvious. So many customers walked straight into the glass that first week that they had to be changed again!
If you won a lottery today, will you still continue to build your business?
I would like to say yes, but I’m not sure I would spend as much time on it! I would definitely make the website 100% free though (at the moment the site has a premium option for heavier users) and make the code open source to allow contributions from other programmers.
Walk us through your day as founder of PDF Pro.
My day is really varied because I’m responsible for all aspects of the business, from the engineering to the accounting. It usually starts with checking the technical side of the site to ensure it’s all running smoothly. Next I’ll answer any customer service tickets and my emails. Then I’ll spend most of the day working on the website’s features, either improving them or adding something new. Every day there’s something different to do as a business owner so it never gets boring!
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
The highlight would probably be the great feedback I get from PDF Pro customers, as I mentioned earlier. When you’re working as an employee, you rarely get direct feedback from the customers using the product. As the business owner, it’s great to be able to communicate directly with my customers and take their feedback into account.
Where or what do you think you will be/do in the next 5 years?
I hope I’m still working on PDF Pro (or I’ve won the lottery!). I’d like the website to be really improved and the best PDF editing service you could imagine. Hopefully, web technologies will also improve to allow users to get more done in the browser.
Share a quote/advice that you’d like to tell the 25-year-old you
I was 25 when I first started working on PDF Pro and, though it was a very slow process getting any traffic in the beginning, eventually users found the site and Google recognized it as a great PDF resource. I’d tell 25-year-old me not to give up and keep following my gut!