Adriana Herrera is the Founder of PayDestiny, a demand salary negotiation software that empowers women and underestimated professionals to build skills and confidence to maximize pay and reach career goals, and that provides business owners tools to attract and retain employees through the implementation of progressive transparent pay and promotion practices. She specializes in building tech for social good, HR Tech, and workflow automation. When not working she loves to cook healthy food while dancing in her kitchen and improve her surfing skills.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I grew up in a traditional Mexican American family in San Diego, CA with my mother, father, older brother, and younger brother. Growing up my parents had very specific ideas of what activities boys and girls do and what type of toys boys and girls played with. From the time I could walk through college I took dance classes three to four times a week. As a little girl, my parents would buy me dolls while my brothers got cool transformers and Ninja Turtles. I always wanted to play with my brother’s toys and do the activities that they did like playing soccer in the street and going fishing with my father. The idea that “boys do this and girls do this” is something I rebelled against from a young age. When my cousins and brothers went to play soccer I would run out with ribbons in my hair and in my dress to join the game (even when they didn’t want me). When my brother got a cool toy I would try and negotiate for a swap. From a young age, I was always a girl that wasn’t restricted by ideas of what “boys and girls” should do or be like. I would simply move towards, and insert myself into, what I found interesting and fun. It was my experience growing up with two brothers that made it easier for me to work in tech, a male-dominated industry, and to push for a seat at the table when needed.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I first became an entrepreneur in high school. My family lived within walking distance of the football stadium in San Diego. During sold-out games the stadium parking lot would fill to capacity and people would circle the neighborhood looking for parking. Prior to big games I would move and park my parent’s cars outside of our driveway and rent out their parking spaces. I never had a set fee, rather I would negotiate a price for the parking spot with the driver. If I thought I could get a higher price than they offered I’d pass and they’d have to keep circling the neighborhood. I would leverage the scarcity of parking to get a good price. During the Super Bowl, I was able to negotiate just under $600.00 for one of the parking spaces. It was a pretty awesome high school side hustle (in addition to my part-time job). I have always had a knack for seeing opportunities and developing creative solutions. As an adult, my first professional job out of college was to build the organizational capacity of a youth organization to authentically include children with disabilities who were being turned away. The organization was going to be sued by a group of parents. My job was to prevent the lawsuit by ensuring the organization had the infrastructure to provide services to any child regardless of ability. At 21- years old I was given free rein to function as an intrapreneur. I reported directly to the organization’s leadership and built solutions from the ground up. I was successful and not only prevented the lawsuit but garnered awards, funding, and press for the youth organization. The parents who were ready to sue the youth organization became its biggest fans. What I built ended up serving as a state model in social services organizations. Being young, and looking younger, the process was not without its challenges but I was passionate, qualified, and persisted even when it meant having to persuade colleagues 30 years my senior. The experience taught me that I could apply business principles to solve social problems. It is this experience and foundation I have carried with me in my entrepreneurial journey and why I have only built businesses that are driven by a social mission.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
One business lesson I would tell a startup founder is to be cautiously open when sharing company information with prospective hires, investors, partners, and clients. You never know where your company information will end up. To track, analyze, and control the flow of company information such as company sales decks, contracts/agreements, pitch decks, etc., and to know what someone has or has not reviewed I recommend the use of document sending software such as DocSend. The software not only helps you to cautiously share company information but it helps you to optimize conversations by giving you analytics to understand what information has been viewed by a person, how much time they spent viewing the information, and if there is information they seem specifically interested in. As a founder, having these analytics provides insights that make closing deals and partnerships easier.