Last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with Sophie Knowles. She told me all about her company (PDF Pro), her career in tech, and her experience starting a business. Anyone can make their dreams come true - they just have to go for it!
JM: What services does your company provide? What makes it different from other companies?
PDF Pro is an online PDF editing service. The site offers many features to edit PDFs, including merging PDFs
and deleting the pages of a PDF, converting PDF to Word
, and much more! PDF Pro is distinctive because of the sheer number of features it offers, and users can try out all the features for free. I wanted to create a website where users could get PDF work done. We are expanding the features, and PDF Pro continues to become more and more useful.
JM: What inspired you to pursue a career in tech?
I was inspired by the potential of the internet. As someone who always wanted to start a business and avoid going to the office, it seemed to me that the internet was the best way to achieve my dream. I started teaching myself web development at home over 10 years ago. Since then I haven't looked back!
JM: Were there ever any adversities that you had to face as a woman working in tech?
Quite the opposite. As someone who entered the workforce in the last 10 years, I found that companies were more willing to hire women to show their diversity. I wouldn't go so far to say that I was hired just because of my gender, but I haven't had any trouble finding jobs, and I haven't felt that I was treated differently in those jobs. There may be a glass ceiling for women in tech, but I haven't experienced it myself. As a tech entrepreneur, I also haven't experienced any adversities. In fact, running an online business is a great leveler - my customers have no idea that PDF Pro is run by a woman, so there's no discrimination.
JM: What advice do you have for people who want to start their own businesses?
Go for it! Seriously. If you have an idea with even the slightest potential, then try it. If you can do most of the work yourself, like set up a website, for example, then the startup costs can be extremely low. Try to be frugal at first, and test out your idea without spending too much money. Even if it fails, you will learn a lot, and you can then go on to try out another idea. If possible, don't quit your day job until your business at least shows some good traction.
Sophie Knowles is a British software engineer and founder of PDF Pro, an online tool for editing and convert PDF files. She started PDF Pro as a side job while working her corporate job. Today, PDF Pro has over 180,000 monthly users and continues to grow and thrive.