Yardzen is proud to announce that our founder and CEO, Allison Messner, has been named to Inc. Magazine’s “100 Female Founders” list of 2022! To celebrate this prestigious award, she hosted an “Ask Me Anything” on Instagram to answer our community’s questions about her entrepreneurial journey and the founding of Yardzen!
What was your background before you started the company?
I’ve spent my whole career working for startups and building startups (she was a member of Open DNS’s founding team), but my very first job out of college was writing for a newspaper. I was a reporter in Kodiak, Alaska.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in shaping Yardzen into what it is today?
Definitely building our team. We have the most phenomenal team. We have people across the country and around the world with a broad range of skill sets and a diversity of experience that come to Yardzen and have made it what it is today. We absolutely could not do what we have done if it weren’t for the people that work here.
What’s your favorite business resource for staying smart? Newsletter, podcast, etc.
I’m a very curious person. I read the news everyday – the New York Times is my favorite publication. I read about business, I read about politics. I think it makes any entrepreneur stronger to be aware and have context and draw comparisons and learn.
What do you value most in employees?
I value a lot of things. I value curiosity, I value grit, I value empathy, I value hard work, I value intelligence – it’s a combination of all of those things. I care about those things – those people attributes much more than I care about education and even experience. I believe that when you have a smart person, they are capable of learning, and when you build the infrastructure in the company to support them, it’s kind of magical.
Was it hard to standardize the design packages?
Yes, it was hard to standardize design packages because people want different things for their unique homes, and so to bucket our design packages, we had to give it a lot of careful thought. But I feel great about where we’ve gotten to, and we are always open to feedback. If you see our packages and you don’t see your needs reflected in them, we’d love to hear from you.
With only ~ 2% of VC funding going to companies founded by women, what is your take on knocking down some of the barriers to access?
Only 2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2021, and that number is actually down from where it was a couple years ago. The good news is that there are more female VCs than ever before, and there are organizations like All Raise–which is led in part by Jenny Lefcourt who is an investor at an investor in Yardzen, called Freestyle Capital–that are working really hard to increase the number of women and non-binary founders in tech.