Danielle Tate, Founder & CEO of MissNowMrs, talks with host Justin Gray about missing medical school by three spots, leaving behind her successful career in sales and what it’s like being a pioneer in the wedding tech space—all on the the latest episode of Driven: How Did I Get Here?
What do you do in your current role?
MissNowMrs is an online name change service for brides. We condense the tedious 13-hour process of collecting all of your forms of identification, going to all the government offices, and filing for your new name into 30 minutes for $30. We’re many years in and just crossed the 370,000 customer mark.
Nothing’s the same day-to-day, which is something I very much enjoy as an entrepreneur. I’m forever making new partnerships, building new brand platforms and extensions to continue to grow and scale in a way that keeps me busy and happy.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I spent the first 20 years of my life doing everything possible to become a cardiologist. I spent a summer at an internship at Ohio State University Heart and Lung Institute. All I did was help with heart catheterizations and watched open-heart surgery and I just fell in love with all of it. I made all of the hard choices, took all of the hard classes, all to miss med school by three chairs. It was definitely a low.
When you got this news, what were your options?
My parents thought that I should move home to my very small town in Pennsylvania and work for the local physician and reapply. I couldn’t imagine moving home as a failure. I ended up selling copiers. I learned that I love selling things but I just absolutely hate selling copiers. I parlayed that into a position as the number one sales rep for a very large medical diagnostic equipment company.
How did you make the jump from being a quota carrying sales individual to forming your own business?
I was very careful about it which is probably not something you hear from entrepreneurs. I had the idea and I didn’t immediately quit my job. I did some research and turns out there’s 2.3 million marriages a year just in the U.S. and 88% of women still change their name. That was a big renewable market.
I starting doing research on evenings and weekends and dual tracking for a number of months, but I was also driving 1,300 miles a week for my job. At a certain point I knew one of these had to get my full attention or I’d do poorly at both. I ended up quitting my job and within 30 minutes of turning the website on we had our first customer. Within the first month we were profitable and we never looked back.
What has it been like being a female entrepreneur and being under what is typically thought of as a glass ceiling?
I don’t think that there’s a glass ceiling per se in entrepreneurship. There’s more of a sticky floor. Women can think of every reason why we shouldn’t be entrepreneurs. Why the company would fail. Why someone else would be better at starting it then we would be. Then there are statistics showing we have 35% higher return on investment than our male entrepreneur peers.
I really feel like we’re at the tipping point for women’s entrepreneurship—there are suddenly enough women entrepreneurs that there’s room for people to mentor. Now women are exiting and investing in other women’s companies. That’s a very key point in the ecosystem.
You wrote a book titled Elegant Entrepreneur: The Female Founders Guide to Starting and Growing Your First Company. What are some lessons you’re imparting through the book?
It’s literally everything I wish I had known. Here’s how you do it. The end of each chapter is a list of real, tangible resources you can use if you’re living that particular step. My favorite part is each chapter ends with how it feels. I think if I could have known emotionally what was coming down the pike I could have prepared myself and been a little bit more successful faster.