The effectiveness of a cleaning protocol depends on contact and coverage according to Katherine Jin who helped develop a patented cleaning additive. She’s also the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of the biotech company, Kinnos. As the co-developer of this additive, she joined the Grit Daily Like a Boss podcast to share her experiences as an entrepreneur. Kinnos’ patented technology is an additive designed for disinfectants – bleach, specifically, with this current product but they’re expanding their offering. As a colorant, their additive improves visualization so that you can actually see where you cleaned. Moments later, the purple-blue additive fades and becomes transparent, leaving no trace of it behind. The only thing that is left behind is a clean surface!
At the time of the development of the additive and the launch of their then startup, Jin and her co-founders were still in college. None of them were wholly prepared for the challenges of startup life. Nor did they have any awareness of how the importance of their additive would skyrocket in the wake of the pandemic. Their growth was accelerated by a fortuitous news article which was read by a local fire station. The fire fighter who read about Kinnos’ additive immediately recognized its potential application to augment cleaning protocols. That encounter spurred the team forward. And, as they say, the rest is history.
The entrepreneurial experience
In the podcast, Jin reflects on her journey thus far and what she’d tell her younger self. “My first piece of advice to myself is to have confidence and learn about something you are passionate about. Don’t underestimate how much you can learn on your own if you just care about something. One of the most frustrating aspects of this job is people doubting my capabilities because of my name or how I look.”
Everything around a startup begins by building a community. You need other founders who can walk you back from the proverbial ledge on the days where nothing’s going right. And you need influencers and champions of your idea who can open doors for you.
As a female founder, vulnerability is common. Jin says, “As a woman, I overcompensate worrying about whether or not people like me. This points to a larger fact about startups, the media has overdone it, all the glamorizing about living in the office, grinding 24/7, contributes to the ‘founder myth’ with the stress of comparison. But comparison is the thief of all joy. I wasted so much time doubting myself. I’ve learned that you can be a lot happier if you’re not the one always tearing yourself down.”
Other bits of hard-earned advice
When asked how she came into this business, Jin, said, “I came in very little life and little work experience. I’ve learned that it’s really important to build a company with allies and people who believe in you and understand the difficulties of being a minority in this space. I wouldn’t sugar-coat the trials and tribulations. It’s hard to be the only minority in any space.”
Given the rise of the horrific and racist attacks anchored in Asian hate, Grit Daily asked Jin what her personal experience has been. “I walk around NYC and I think, ‘Is this my city? Do people want me here?’ Yet I was born and raised here. To improve the situation around Asian hate, we need to increase the amount of awareness: once you know something, you care about something.”
Listen to Katherine Jin’s experiences as a co-founder of Kinnos here. Do so by tuning into our Grit Daily Like a Boss podcast anywhere that content is streamed.