What’s it like to work for a startup with the women leaders of Penji (Jie, Sekinah, Naciye, and Ginny)

Johnathan Gryzbowski

October 23, 2018


At Penji, we are a diverse startup. From the way we think, to the way we hire. Penji is located in the city of Camden, NJ. By doing a quick Google search, you’ll see that the city of Camden isn’t notable for being the best city in the world, however we thinking otherwise. We decided to headquarter in this city while everyone else in the business world turned a side eye to.

A mission that we have at Penji is to help students and residents of the city of Camden obtain jobs. Every single person within our company is either from the city of Camden or has gone to school here. We believe that by supporting our local community, it will give our team members the foundation to go out and one day make their own change.

Episode 199 is very special to me and I figured what better way to celebrate episode 199 than to interview the women of Penji. As much as we are diverse through our backgrounds, we are diverse in culture and gender. There are more women than men at Penji and it’s a part of our company that we actively celebrate.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did. We asked real questions about what it’s like to work for a startup and so many more topics. There is no greater episode to hear what it’s like to run and work for a startup than this one.

Thoughts On The Downsides To Startups

Probably getting annoyed with each other at times, due to us being so close. You can only be around people so much and it tends to wear thin sometimes. We also tend to get sidetracked a lot, despite it being fun. For example, we tend to spend a lot of time messaging each other on Slack, instead of actually working in our down time.

Thoughts On Entrepreneurship

Well, the idea of entrepreneurship is working 24/7, for all 365 days. It looks like the vast majority of people that go into this path as a career choice don’t understand the amount of work that one has to put in, how little sleep that you tend to get or even the future that you could be unsure of in the beginning. But it’s all of the grind that makes things work it. All the accolades, all the awards – they come AFTER the grind. That grind is what we think makes an entrepreneur.

Without it, you’re just a ‘wantrepreneur’; you want all the glitz and glamour, but you don’t want to put the work in to get there. Also, in order to be an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be humble, and to keep trying after you fail. There’s also a bit of sacrifice involved – you need to be built for it, and not everyone is cut out for it. Some persons are more comfortable working for someone else and they don’t want anything else outside of that. And that’s fine; it’s a certain amount of willpower and hustle that a person needs to have; that can’t exactly be taught. It’s more of an innate thing.

Some people are just built for 9 to 5 jobs, and they just don’t want to take that extra step. You need to do so many things, sometimes by yourself, or with a partner that you trust 100%. After all, you don’t know if that partner will fail on you. There’s also the potential loneliness that can result from your decision to become an entrepreneur. For example, you could start out with a small group of people, but lose them at some point of your journey.

Final Thoughts And Advice

Build the right team around you. They’re the ones that will carry you for most of your journey, and you can’t do this alone – it’s impossible. You may start out alone at first, but you need to have people around you that can do what you can’t. You also need to be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do. Another one is not to start with a long-term goal. Start with a short-term goal, work towards that, and then build from there. Otherwise you’ll get sidetracked easily, and eventually lose your purpose.