Jacqueline Leung - The Visionary behind Pressed News

It takes a lot of courage to quit your job and pursue your passion.  It also takes courage to go through with it while crying in front of your boss. That was how Jacqueline came to the conclusion that she needed to quit her marketing job in sports media and work on Pressed full-time.

Pressed News is a daily email newsletter and community. It gives you everything you need to know to start your day and equips you with the facts and stories you need. As someone, who digests her daily dose of news through Pressed for months and months now, I wanted to learn a little bit more about the people behind it.

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What made you want to start Pressed?

I started Pressed because it’s something that I need. Not a news junkie by any means, I was looking for a news outlet that could give me the news without all the jargon and could adapt to my busy schedule, and that could understand my knowledge gaps. I tried to keep up with the news via Twitter headlines, but that didn’t give me enough. Then, I tried to keep up via traditional news outlets, but I was often reading 2,000+ word articles and left with more questions than answers. After exploring American and Canadian outlets and not finding what I needed, I just started it myself. And here I am with Pressed News and a staff of writers and creatives dedicated to help make the news easy to understand.

Have you always wanted to be your own boss?

Nope. Not at all. My parents are entrepreneurs so I saw how hard that life was growing up. I was quite happy to climb the corporate ladder. But now that I am my own boss, I’m not sure I can go back to the corporate world. It’s not about working my own hours or being at home in my pajamas (I actually hate that!), it’s about having the freedom to be creative. Working on my own business means that I can execute any idea and see it succeed (or fail) any time. That is super rewarding.

How do you talk to your family and friends about Pressed?

First, I tell everyone who gets within 20 ft. of me to sign up! These days, most of my family and friends know that Pressed is my full time job. Most of them are proud that I’m doing something I’m passionate about. But I definitely don’t hide my frustrations. I tell them it’s great that we’re growing our users, but this week, we’re struggling with X, Y, or Z.

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How do you (and team) make Pressed happen? 

I’m lucky because I was able to assemble a team quite quickly. I can’t imagine running Pressed by myself. Every day, our editing team (myself, Managing Editor, and Associate Editor) scour the internet for the big news stories we think our readers will need to know the next day. By 5 p.m., our Managing Editor has assigned stories to each of our writers to be covered. The stories get back to our Managing Editor and Associate Editor by 10 p.m., then I get the final newsletter around midnight. Instead of staying up to do the final edit, I wake up at 4:15 a.m. every morning so that I can also do one last comb through of the news to make sure no big stories happened overnight.

Starting and growing Pressed wasn't an overnight success. It was small moments that led to growth. When you felt discouraged, what kept you going?

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In the beginning, it was knowing that there were people reading our newsletter every day who weren’t my family or friends. Now, we get daily notes of appreciation from our readers telling us how much they love what we’re doing. I will never get tired of these. As I mentioned, I’m also really lucky that I have such a great team at such an early stage of the company. We’re all passionate, supportive, and loyal. When I feel discouraged, I just pick up the phone and call our Managing Editor. If she’s not available, I text one of our advisors.

Do you feel that people are born with an entrepreneurial gene, something that makes them different? Or is it something that can be learned?

I think it takes a unique person to start a company. From my experience so far, I’d say my unique quality is resilience. I’m not convinced that resilience can be learned. I’m faced with the option of continuing with Pressed or going back to a corporate job every day - this is a privilege, I know - but it’s also challenging. What would you do if someone offered you a six-figure job but your heart really wanted to build a business? If you knew you wouldn’t make any money in the first few years of your business, would you still do it? Also, how many times are you willing to face rejection before you run back to the comfort of raises and praises at a regular 9-5? Again, I’m not convinced that everyone would choose to stay resilient when things get hard. And they shouldn’t have to! Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone.

What's a challenge you face every day when it comes to leading the company? 

This is my first time building a business so I’m making things up as I go! Every day, I face doubt - am I working on the right things? Are my editors happy? Will I make payroll next month? It’s a constant balance of doubt, fear, excitement, and fun. As the leader of the company, it’s my job to make sure we’re moving forward - in terms of finances, vision, and growth - that’s a lot of pressure to feel every day.

If you weren't running Pressed, what would you be doing?

If I had to leave Pressed behind today, I’d probably go and work for one of my friends’ companies. I’ve met so many awesome founders since I started my company that I would be happy to go and help one of them grow. 

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What are the challenges female entrepreneurs face? 

I’m in the middle of raising a round of funding for Pressed, so this is top of mind right now. Did you know that only 3% of the companies that receive Seed/Angel funding are entirely female-founded (like Pressed)? Also,  I’m a solo-founder, I’m a visible minority, and most investors are men.

There are societal assumptions and expectations that come with living in a male-dominated world too. I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t (yet) walk into a room with the same confidence as a fellow male founder. In my pitch deck, my projections are more conservative. And then, I have to worry about how I look/dress when I meet new people. Is this person asking me out on a date or does he actually want to hear my pitch?

On the flip side, however, there’s a ton of support for female entrepreneurs if you want it. There are accelerators and funds dedicated to women. But I’d say the most valuable resource I have is my crew of fellow female founders, my friends.

What do you consider your biggest wins with Pressed, personally and professionally?

We’re about to celebrate our 2-year anniversary. That’s a huge accomplishment for me, personally. I feel like I’m always chasing a deadline (we’re about to run out of money, steam, drive), and yet somehow, I’ve managed to push each deadline and now, we’re here. For the company, I’m extremely proud of the team we’ve built, the growth we’ve accomplished (mostly organically), the investors we’ve attracted, and launching the Pressed Podcast this summer.

Small business owners always have to make sacrifices for the sake of their business. What sacrifices have you made for Pressed?

Most of my sacrifices have been financial ones. In general, I’ve had to cut back on my spending - can’t buy a new dress just because, can’t get my nails done, can’t eat out as much… but the biggest sacrifice is probably traveling. I’ve been to six different continents and used to pride myself on travelling to two new places every year. Since starting Pressed two years ago, I haven’t travelled for leisure outside of Canada even once. But thinking about these sacrifices reminds me of why I started Pressed in the first place. I truly want to change the world, not just make money. I want to build a company that helps people in their daily lives and challenges them to think differently. If that’s what we’re doing, then all the sacrifices are worth it.

Words by: Lori Harito
Photography by: Bettina Bogar

 

 

Lori HaritoComment