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December 7, 2022

Founder Spotlight — Jasmine Shells, CEO & Co-Founder of Five to Nine

Founder Spotlight — Jasmine Shells, CEO & Co-Founder of Five to Nine

This month, we’re putting the spotlight on Jasmine Shells, CEO & Co-Founder of Five to Nine!

How did you come up with the idea for Five to Nine?

I worked in corporate America. I was an IT consultant at Ernst & Young, and that’s actually where I came up with the idea for Five to Nine. People often ask if entrepreneurs are born or if they’re made. They ask if you should work for someone else or if you should just go at it on your own. I found that working somewhere else was the best place to discover a problem that I wanted to solve. Leading the employee resource groups at Ernst & Young, in addition to my IT consultant gig, it really taught me that there were no tools or resources really for these employee resource leaders to easily manage their events and programs, let alone get any data on how their members were resonating with the programs themselves. So that led to the idea of what now is Five to Nine.

How did you meet your co-founders?

Denise and I met over a decade ago. We actually met in undergrad at the University of Notre Dame. I was a freshman, and Denise was a prospective student, meaning that she was visiting the university to see if it was where she wanted to spend her next four years. And she got stuck with me. Thankfully, I did not scare her away during her visit. She ended up attending Notre Dame. And then that kicked off what ended up being a beautiful friendship, which led into a working relationship years later in Chicago.

Where did you find your first five customers?

It was through a lot of grinding. We definitely had to put our feet to the pavement to do so. But we found our initial customers through our personal networks, but then also through leveraging the networks of our initial investors and supporters to make connections in order to make that first meeting happen.

What’s something you wish you had known earlier in your startup journey?

Laser focus on who you’re building for. I think the faster you get to a very niche focus, the quicker you find success. The faster you can do that, the better.

Learn more about Five to Nine by visiting

Thanks again to Jasmine for sharing her journey!

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Ash Rust

Ash Rust

Managing Partner, Sterling Road

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