In the world of digital innovation, very few stories are as compelling and uniquely human as that of Sarah Jenkins, Co-Founder and CEO of Genesis Digital. Our latest episode of “The Bright Founders Talk at Temy” welcomed Sarah, offering a deep dive into her journey that transcends the realm of business.
From the heart-wrenching transition to CEO following her husband’s illness, to a strict upbringing punctuated by moments of entrepreneurial ambition as early as 12, her story is a testament to resilience. It’s a tale of love, loss, adaptation, and the audacity to lead even when the path is uncertain.
Sarah’s diverse background has uniquely positioned her to navigate the multicultural landscape of Genesis Digital, a company that is now a force to reckon with in the software domain. Join our host, Matthew, as he unfolds the layers of Sarah’s life and her indomitable spirit. Dive in to discover how she not only embraced the unexpected but thrived amidst it.
From Homeschooling to CEO: Sarah Jenkins’ Path of Resilience and Innovation
Navigating the corporate world comes with its challenges. But when you’re Sarah Jenkins, CEO and co-founder of Genesis Digital, these challenges have been met with tenacity, grace, and an unshakable spirit. The journey wasn’t always straightforward. Sarah’s story is peppered with personal challenges, like the loss of her husband and business partner to cancer. Stepping into the role of CEO, she recalls, “It was already our company. And I’d already been running things for a couple of years. But I did feel the weight of the responsibility soon after my husband passed.”
Sarah’s early life provided a unique foundation for her future endeavors. Raised on the outskirts of Detroit in a strict Southern Baptist household and later attending a homeschool college linked to a cult, Sarah’s world was anything but ordinary. Yet, even with these distinct experiences, she viewed them as an opportunity. She notes, “Being raised in that different, really strict environment… gave me a good opportunity to hone in on those observation skills and learn how to deal with more off-the-cuff personalities.”
Sarah’s foray into business began at a young age. Whether from watching her family’s involvement with Amway or her early attempts at babysitting entrepreneurship, she believed she could make it big. “I was 12 years old… I put fliers in everyone’s mailbox, like ‘first hour free’. I believed in making money that strongly, that early.” Now, leading a company with a vast global presence and a multimillion-dollar revenue, Sarah’s determination and unique background have clearly played pivotal roles in her success.
Reinventing Sarah: From Microwaves to Million-Dollar Software
Remember the time a young kid misused a microwave and ended up not getting a babysitting gig? For most, it’d be a funny story to recount at family gatherings. For Sarah, it was a pivotal moment, one of many that would shape her journey from a rebellious teenager to a business magnate. “I certainly learned from a lot of those mistakes. But my mom… asked me out of frustration, but my response may have surprised her,” she recalls. That response? Sarah’s unwavering belief in herself and her determination to own a business. She credits Denise, a mentor from her church, for teaching her the ropes of the business world at a boutique shop. “She taught me about sales, taxes, payroll management…how you’re a showman, not a salesman,” Sarah reminisces, her voice tinted with gratitude. And with that foundation, she built and expanded, constantly learning and evolving.
“You can sell anything you want, as long as there’s a market for it,” she states confidently. This philosophy, backed by her profound understanding of human behavior and sales dynamics, has driven Sarah to impressive heights. From setting up a number one website in Southern California for personal training to delving deep into the realms of fitness marketing on a global scale, her journey is nothing short of inspiring. When life took her to the world of software and video, she embraced it wholeheartedly, pivoting and adapting seamlessly. Today, she stands tall as the proud co-creator of WebinarJam, a tool many have used to mint millions. “Some people make a lot more than me, which is great using my software,” she laughs, a testimony to her humility despite her achievements.
As the conversation meanders towards her company, Genesis, her passion is palpable. From tweaking features in their current offerings to envisioning an AI that can choose the most efficient marketing funnel for its users, Sarah is continuously pushing boundaries. “That’s my dream,” she says with a twinkle in her eye, talking about her aspirations for Genesis. As we wrap up our chat, it’s clear that the tale of Sarah is one of perseverance, adaptability, and an indomitable spirit. As she aptly puts it, “If you understand the human behavior, and then the technology around how to sell it, you’re golden.”
Unlocking Success in the Digital Age: Sarah’s Secrets to Remote Team Building and Innovating in Software
Sarah’s journey in the world of digital business took a radical turn in 2014 when she made the bold move to shut down her office and go entirely remote. This wasn’t a half-hearted decision; it stemmed from a profound realization. With four kids at home, including a baby girl, she felt the work could be efficiently handled from the comfort of one’s living space. However, remote work brought its own set of challenges, primarily communication. Sarah recalls, “We had to train some of our staff like…hey, remember that spreadsheet I asked for? Do you think it’ll be ready soon, smiley face?”. With a chuckle, she emphasizes how crucial it is to effectively communicate intent and tone over text in this digital era.
But how does one select the right people for such a unique work setting? To Sarah, the cornerstone of hiring isn’t just about skills but about the essence of a person. She states, “The number one thing I look for is… How comfortable are they talking about their area of expertise? Do they have ideas? Are they hands-on? Integrity is number one. If you don’t have that, I don’t want to work with you.” This sentiment speaks volumes about the culture and ethos she nurtures within her teams.
Sarah’s latest venture, competing with giants like HubSpot, showcases her unwavering confidence in her product’s robustness. She fondly describes a feedback moment where, after months of tireless development on their webinar feature, the most significant request was simply for a “dark mode.” With a laugh, she recalls, “It made me happy that the biggest complaint or request was that it had a different color.” This ability to find joy and humor in the midst of intense work has been pivotal for Sarah, who has been grinding in this field for over a decade. For aspiring entrepreneurs, her advice is crystal clear – find your passion and understand your ‘why.’ She concludes, “There is a business there, no matter what it is.”
Navigating the Digital Jungle: Sarah’s Insights on Online Selling and the Value of Balance
Sarah, in our candid conversation, recounted the ever-evolving nature of online selling. It started with a laugh when she jokingly remembered a teacher’s banter about selling feet pictures online. A light moment, but it illustrates a poignant reality: people will sell anything and everything online. And while our world has expanded in unexpected directions in the digital age, Sarah’s insight into the software business is a testament to her entrepreneurial spirit. “In software, you’re filling that gap; you’re filling that need,” she emphasized. This came to fruition when Sarah and her team turned a simple Google Hangout overlay into a full-blown product, a journey that underlines her principle of starting small but aiming big.