Danielle Tate: The "Elegant Entrepreneur"

Danielle TateDanielle Tate is the author of "Elegant Entrepreneur: The Female Founders Guide to Starting & Growing Your First Company", which she wrote "to lower the barriers to entry and success for female founders."

In it she teaches topics relevant to starting a company, such as:

  • Market research
  • Business planning
  • Funding
  • Building your team, and
  • "Timing your leap"

She mentions Balsamiq Mockups in her list of tools that can "help women grow from idea to exit." One of the mentions is in a section on finding a technical cofounder that shows the depth of her experience and research. Some good advice here:

"To pique a potential technical partner’s interest, differentiate yourself from the endless hollow pitches. Be sure to have a wireframe or other documented presentation, and the working vocabulary around the technology you need for your project."

She also promotes Balsamiq Mockups to reinforce the mantra we often hear on this blog, that wireframing early saves a lot of time down the road when it comes to the testing and development phases.

Her book comes at an interesting time for female founders. An article titled "What The Evolution Of Women's Roles In Stock Photos Says About Gender Equality" cites that Getty Images has seen a fourfold increase in searches for "woman entrepreneur" in the last year. Meanwhile, "only 4% percent of S&P Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs." Danielle's book is working to bridge that gap.

We asked her some questions about her book and the story behind it.

Note: Danielle has generously offered a free copy of her book to the first 5 commenters. So add your thoughts or experiences below!

Q&A with Danielle Tate

What industry do you work in, and what is your title or job description?

I work in the wedding tech industry as the founder and CEO of MissNowMrs.com, an online name-change service for brides.

What inspired you to write a book?

As an accidental entrepreneur, I always looked for a book that would teach me the steps to building a business without assuming that I had an MBA. I also wanted a book that discussed the emotions and psychological barriers that happen in entrepreneurship to know if what I was experiencing was “normal.” I never found that book, so I wrote it. My mission with Elegant Entrepreneur is to lower the boundaries to entry and success for female founders.

As an accidental entrepreneur, I always looked for a book that would teach me the steps to building a business without assuming that I had an MBA.

What's in your book that's not covered in other books on starting a business?

By demystifying entrepreneurship and providing a window into the lifestyle, I hope to get more women to startup and scale up!

Elegant Entrepreneur is 1/3 my personal experiences as an entrepreneur, 1/3 research, and 1/3 insights and advice from 25+ prominent women entrepreneurs. My book covers the 12 business steps from idea to exit (which many other books do) and shares elegant insights from myself and others to make spanning those steps easier for the reader. I also wrote about “how it feels” to be living each step of the entrepreneurial journey. By demystifying entrepreneurship and providing a window into the lifestyle, I hope to get more women to startup and scale up!

How has entrepreneurship changed in the last decade and what changes do you see ahead?

I’ve seen a shift in the societal view of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. It is much more acceptable to launch a startup instead of following a more traditional career path. Television shows like Shark Tank and the Profit have peaked America’s curiosity about startups and entrepreneurs.

There are more women entrepreneurs now than when I founded my company ten years ago. While we are still a small fraction of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, our numbers are growing and our ideas and companies are making a difference in the world. As more women entrepreneurs become investors, I hope we will see even more female-founded startups receiving funding to scale their businesses.

Any person who intends to work for a company should learn the basic steps to starting and growing a business.

The educational system is starting to “wake up” and shift colleges from centers of research to centers of innovation. I believe we will see more entrepreneurship curriculum within high schools and colleges in the future (and can’t wait for that to happen)! Any person who intends to work for a company should learn the basic steps to starting and growing a business, as it will help them better understand their role within the company.

What has experience taught you that you think new entrepreneurs should know right off the bat?

You need to have a good idea daily. Many new entrepreneurs are so wrapped up in the one big idea that launched their company that they forget how important new ideas are. Generating new ideas and implementing them is how a company grows, improves, and stays ahead of competition in an ever-changing market.

What mistakes have you made along the way and how did you recover or learn from them?

Invest in a good business lawyer from the beginning.

One of my biggest mistakes as I started my company was not proactively protecting my intellectual property. We had several copycat companies mine our service for forms and coding processes. After numerous lawsuits we added stronger terms and conditions to our purchase process and also devised a security mechanism that shuts down accounts with suspicious activity. My advice to any entrepreneur is to invest in a good business lawyer from the beginning and write terms and conditions that include a no derivative works clause for users.

Why and how do you use Balsamiq Mockups?

Balsamiq is a must-have tool for any entrepreneur

As a non-graphic designer, Balsamiq is a tool that allows me to communicate my ideas to my cofounders, designer, and team in a much more elegant fashion than the stick figures I used to scan and email to everyone (they’re tragic). Having something clean and concrete to work off of speeds our project collaborations. Balsamiq is a must-have tool for any entrepreneur, and I recommend it and purposefully included a Balsamiq draft of the MissNowMrs website in my book.

One of Danielle's wireframes for the MissNowMrs website

What (or who) inspires you?

I am inspired by many people and things, but currently my son is my inspiration. He lives in a household where ideas become companies and mamas write books on entrepreneurship. I want to continue to make sure he lives in a world without traditional limits, and strive to set a good example.


Thanks, Danielle, for writing the book you couldn't find. You're a Champion!

Danielle has generously offered a free copy of her book to the first 5 commenters. So add your thoughts or experiences below!

Do you have a story to share about the awesome things you do with Balsamiq? Send an email to champions@balsamiq.com with your stories or blog posts!

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Comments (6)

  1. I’m gonna buy a licence of your mockup tools, as i’m discovering the extended uses outside of a web-mockup application.

    thanks a lot for this great example of entrepreneurship by women for other women. Yes i’m interested by this book also !

    Miss A.
  2. As I’m a man, I would never catch this book by its cover in a bookstore. A nice woman lays on a bed in a red dress. Looks like a girly romance story or anything else, but not a business book. Seems it worth a read.

    Laszlo Boviz
  3. Inspiring article. I am helping my daughter with her website for her new start-up company, and we will both want to read your book!

  4. Awesome Danielle. I can’t wait to read that book. Just started with balsamiq now…..if an ‘old school’ ex teacher can do this, anyone can….despite my early fears and reservations, I am finding the whole process fun and enlightening. Never too old to learn!

  5. I also use balsamiq as a non-designer tool. The balsamiq’s sketch nature helps to convey in an “ideas and content first” approach helping to focus in the problem to solve instead in the format to deal with it. Saves lots of time!!

    Yasna Candia
  6. Sounds like an AWESOME book! Will look for more of your stories of success!