Aye Moah is Co-founder and Chief of Product at Boomerang. Boomerang is the most popular productivity app for Gmail and Outlook, enabling millions of people to email more effectively with artificial intelligence. Boomerang’s Respondable is the first real-time AI assistant that improves your writing based on an effectiveness prediction. Moah was born and raised in Burma. She graduated from MIT in 2005 with a degree in Computer Science.
She will be speaking at 1,000 Upvotes: Meet Top Product Hunt Makers on Tuesday, April 25th @6 pm. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.
Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in entrepreneurship?
A. Yes and no. Both my grandmother and my mother started their own businesses. My parents ran the business my mother started when I was growing up. It wasn’t like I had always dreamt to be an entrepreneur and couldn’t wait to become one. It was more that I just assumed that’s what was normal.
Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?
A. I believe I was in the 7th or 8th grade when my high school started a programming class as an after-school experimental activity. The class used old Intel 386 computers and we learned fundamentals of programming in BASIC. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the math teacher who initiated and taught that class. She’s the first influencer who inspired me to understand the delight and joy of programming.
Q. What did you study in college?
A. Computer Science
Q. What did your parents do?
A. My parents ran their own wholesale business, importing construction materials back in Burma.
Q. Tell me about your first job.
A. My first job title was Associate of Technology at Sapient, an IT consulting firm in Cambridge. I got to learn a lot about various roles within a software development team and I appreciated the chance to work in a variety of industries with different clients. That job showed me that I really enjoy working on UX and product design. I also learned that my true passion is in delivering products that users love and need.
Q. What were some early lessons you learned about business?
A. The early lessons I learned about business came from being around my parents while they ran their business together. The best one is to always deliver what you promise to your customers. Once you build the trust with your customers, you will have them for life.
Q. How have you funded Boomerang? How did you first attract investors?
A. We only raised a small seed round back in 2011 from some angel investors and a couple of seed funds like 500 Startups and K9 Ventures.
The rest of our growth and funding came from our own revenue. It’s equivalent to raising a series B every year except we don’t have to give up any equity. We call it Series R — for Revenue. I believe the best kind of funding is real revenue from customers and it’s the best validation for a product’s value.
We have a very interesting story on how we approached our first investor, Dave McClure. It involved giving him a ride to the mechanic and that was before the time of ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.
Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?
A. Find your superpower and focus on being the best at it. In the earlier part of your career, it’s great to branch out and do a breadth first search to see what you are really passionate about and what you’re great at. Once you find it, stop trying to be good at a dozen things. Work hard on what you love until you get to the top 1% of what you’re great at.
Q. Hardest part of being a entrepreneur?
A. It’s really hard to tell what you need to be focused on and there isn’t an easy way to know if you are working on the right things.
Q. Favorite part of being a entrepreneur?
A. The ability to shape a company culture and build the kind of company I would want to work for myself. I love that we can use our profits to do things like build schools for children who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance for an education.