From Early Adopter to Startup Investor: Q & A With Valerie Jennings, CEO of JSMM

Valerie Jennings started her PR firm at the age of 24 in Overland Park, Kan. She earned the title as social media early adopter by introducing new PR tactics in 2006 and continues to educate businesses about how to implement strategies for lead generation, sales and marketing and brand recognition. Today, she continues to educate women and young women about how to tap into the power of the digital web and mentors students who want to pursue a career in STEM. Valerie is also an investor and BetaBlox, hoping to share some of her startup knowledge she picked up along the way during her early stages of launching a business 12 years ago.   


What makes you an early adopter?

I began to introduce social media to our clients in 2006. Because none of them knew what it was back then, I offered the service at no cost. The PR industry was just starting to talk about social media, but we saw so much realtime tracking potential that we were inspired to test and adopt it. Not long after that, I presented at a national PR conference in San Francisco on our case study results. From there, companies on the coasts began to hire us to perform social media strategies such as video blogs, search marketing and lead generation for publicly traded companies. All of this work spun out of the PR agency - the rest is history!


What is the most challenging aspect of being an early adopter?

Technology never stops evolving. Algorithms never stop changing. The work just keeps maturing - we have to continue to stay on top of it.


What is one word that sums up your experience as a social media early adopter?



How do you describe your experiences running an agency that caters to tech, software and managed services companies?

Rewarding. I love working with extremely intelligent people who share my same values!


Why is working with women and girls in STEM so important?

There is a shortage of women in the tech industry so we need to continue to build confidence and awareness that there are career opportunities for them. I want to be an inspiration to them and be able to encourage and mentor women and girls who are interested in these fields, especially tech.


What is the most rewarding aspect of working with BetaBlox?

As an investor, I get to mentor startups and give back to them what I learned from so many great leaders.