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Nastassia Ponomarenko | San Francisco | Get Feedback!

My entrepreneurial journey started back when I was in middle school making DIY phone cases and selling them to my classmates. I started my first official business at age 18 named Nasty Fit, it is now a 7-figure fitness apparel brand. Right before I turned 20, I was feeling quite unfulfilled and lonely - both from not having any like-minded girl friends my age and because Nasty Fit wasn’t impacting society in a way that I wanted a business to do so. From those two feelings came the idea of starting Connectful, a networking app for young adults that we just launched in October. I’m hoping to build that into the best networking app for young adults out there.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?

How did the idea for your business come about?:

Again, I wanted to build a community of like-minded individuals so that other young entrepreneurs could feel supported and find guidance while on their path to success.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?:

Finding a team was probably my biggest hurdle with Connectful. Places like Upwork and LinkedIn have helped me with that, although it is extremely difficult to find someone really, really good on there. It takes a lot of time, trial and error.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?:

Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis is for sure a go to for knowledge, insight and motivation - I pick that one up whenever I need to. Currently though, I am reading AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Orders by Kai- Fu Lee.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?:

Great question! In the beginning, I definitely did get that from my family. Now, they have stopped doing it as much because they see some form of tangible success along with a lot of growth in my own journey with that. I wouldn’t do anything differently in hindsight!

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?:

My drive to succeed.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?:

Never think you’re “too cool” to talk to your customers and get feedback from them yourself. That’s actually the best way to gain insight about your business and connect with your community. I’m currently having one on one conversations with customers in order to make Connectful better!

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?:

It’s genuinely really difficult because it’s a lot of work, and not a lot of results before the breakthroughs happen. Funny enough, what I’ve been trying to do recently is reverse engineer my thoughts so when things that are “hard,” I will flip it and say, “no, this is easy to do.” It helps to overcome hard tasks. I have only started doing that this past week, so we will see how that goes!

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