This woman entrepreneur’s startup builds and launches products for startups and fast-growing companies
March 01, 2022, Updated on : Tue Mar 01 2022 05:10:24 GMT+0000
Ena Zheng’s story mirrors the life of most immigrants to the US.
The Co-founder and COO of San Francisco-based global product development companyrecalls that when her father first moved from China to the US, with a wife and four young children, he had only $50 in his pocket.
“My parents worked long hours so they could provide for the family. They didn’t know any English, but they managed to buy a home, and start several businesses in the restaurant and real estate sectors. My parents instilled a strong work ethic and drive within me that is a big part of who I am today. They taught me that opportunities are always within reach if you learn to discover them and work hard to achieve them,” she tells HerStory.
Her parents’ strength, tenacity, and love created the foundation for Ena’s life and success.
As a child, she wanted to become a teacher and help others. But as she grew up, Ena discovered there were many ways to make a difference.
She completed her BS in Economics from Rutgers University, worked in Citrix, a software development company, and moved to PandaDoc, an application for tracking and signing documents online that is used by millions of people around the world.
“I joined the founders in the early days when the company had a very small team in Belarus and San Francisco. I immediately wore many hats because I saw the challenges and immense opportunities ahead to not only build PandaDoc into a successful company, but one that embraces new ideas, inclusiveness, and openness. During my two years there, I was responsible for business operations, HR, sales, and customer success,” she says.
Building a global development product company
In 2017, she co-founded Fluxon with her two co-founders, Erad Fridman and AJ Ross. Erad led a team of product managers and designers at Google and AJ led a team of engineers at Google. Shortly after, their CPO Jen Gil joined the team. Jen led product management teams for Google and Stripe, and launched Stripe’s first financially regulated product. The co-founders knew each other and worked together for around 10 years before they started Fluxon.
She has fond memories of the early days – the excitement of starting a project from scratch, tackling problems together, and ‘having heated debates and laughs right after’.
On the pain point behind Fluxon, she explains, “We started Fluxon because we wanted to work with our friends, who are very talented in their respective fields. We didn't have a specific product idea in mind, but we knew that whatever we built, we would have fun working on it together. Soon after, people started reaching out to us with ideas for products they needed to develop. As we grew, it became clear that there was a huge demand for our passion and expertise in software development.”
Today, Fluxon is a global company with teams in 12 countries.
“We bring full-stack expertise across Engineering, Product Management, and Design to deliver products from ideation to go-to-market and beyond. We reduce our customers' time to market so they can gain user feedback earlier to iterate faster. Apart from the work we do with our clients, we also build our own products. One of these is Dory, a real-time Q&A app for virtual events that is used by companies around the world. We’re currently incubating several product ideas that we plan to develop this year,” she adds.
Building for Google, Stripe, and Zapier
Fluxon works with some of the fastest-growing startups and enterprise companies to help them build and launch their products.
“We have built software products for companies like Google, Stripe, Zapier, and many more. We can deploy a cross-functional team to own projects end-to-end or work closely with our clients’ existing team to accelerate their development. We are a service company, and we charge a project-based fee for our services. Our fee is dependent on the team size and composition needed to deliver the project,” Ena says.
She outlines a few recent examples that include a feedback tool the company created for Google that is now being used by tens of thousands of their employees around the world, and MVPs it launched for clients which helped them secure tens of millions of dollars in funding.
In addition, its own product, Dory, is helping companies all over the world have more productive and engaging meetings. It is currently used by companies such as Amazon, Toyota, and Microsoft.
Ena doesn’t see other product development companies as competitors.
“For our clients, the alternative to working with us is usually working with their in-house team to build their products. Most of our clients come to us through referrals, so once they decide to hire an external team, they often choose us,” she says.
Recently, the company ventured into the Indian market by opening an office in Hyderabad and will be adding one more later this year. Ena says India is one of its key markets for hiring.
“A profitable company from the beginning, we are fortunate that we haven’t needed to seek outside investment. We run a sustainable business and don’t have any plans to sell or go IPO. Our focus is on profitability, and we prefer to keep decision-making within the company. In 2021, Fluxon grew 4X and we are expecting to grow 3X in 2022. We have grown organically by hiring the best people and doing the right thing for our customers,” she says.
Looking to the future, the company is heavily investing in creating the best possible workplace.
“We have a really strong team of high potential, high-growth individuals who come to Fluxon to do their best work – and have fun along the way. In January 2022, we launched a profit share programme that gives all our team members a share of our profits as we grow. This is just one of the ways we’re creating an inclusive and positive environment for our team members, and I’m excited for what is to come,” Ena says.
Edited by Teja Lele