Deanna Banaszak – Crunchy Bananas
What is your company?
I’m owner and co-founder of Crunchy Bananas. On the surface Crunchy Bananas is a software development and consulting company, but we are so much more than that. We are advisors, teachers, magicians, and artisans. We approach each client as a unique relationship, working together to determine how we can best help you achieve your dreams and goals. Whether that means creating beautiful software applications from scratch, stepping in for team augmentation and training, or performing code review and becoming an advisor to your team; Crunchy Bananas is your one stop shop for all development needs.
Tell us why you do what you do in 1 sentence.
Owning my own company has unlocked a part of me that I always knew was waiting beneath the surface; it fulfills me to my core, challenges me, and allows me to actualize my dreams while assisting others in achieving theirs.
How has growing quickly been both a blessing and challenge for your team?
Our growth genuinely caught us by surprise. Crunchy was originally structured around creating our own personalization apps and with one call, our first consulting client took us from 40 hours a week to 400 hours a week over a 3.5 week period of time. Growing this rapidly forced us to take a hard look at how we were structured internally, recognize our strengths, weaknesses, and identify new goals as a company so we could pivot into the best version of ourselves while emphasizing the company culture that we wanted to embody. Our restructure cost us an obscene amount of money, but that process also taught us invaluable lessons. We recognize and value the importance of sustainable growth, so we consciously advertise and market ourselves so we aren’t overextended, ensuring the products we ship always have the high quality and performance that Crunchy Bananas is known for.
What are 4 valuable lessons about business would you hope to pass onto young women considering becoming an entrepreneur?
Know your worth, own your greatness, and don’t let anyone ever try and convince you otherwise. When writing up your documents and company laws remember that you deserve a seat at the table, so don’t sell yourself short. Embrace who you are; whatever makes you unique will also be what makes you great. Don’t subscribe to any boys club or societal box that you think you should be filling in order to be valid or taken seriously; trying to blend in will only hinder your greatness. If you are true to yourself and create a company you fully stand behind, being genuine will resonate with others and will set you and your business apart from the rest. It’s what will make your business shine a bit brighter because it comes from a place of truth and passion.
Confidence goes a long way, but so does humility. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers, no one does and no one ever will. Constantly ask questions. Ask for help when you need it and don’t assume anything. So, go ahead and be a sponge. Ask for clarification, take notes and look things up, and get excited about learning because you have a lot of growth ahead of you. Even when you feel like you have everything under control, something will come out of left field creating yet another learning opportunity; because owning your own business means you’re owning a life of growth and constant lessons.
You need to schedule downtime for yourself, and I recommend doing it weekly. I regularly schedule what I like to call a “Deanna Day”; it’s a day where I refuse to schedule anything ahead of time, unless it’s a ladies brunch, and I literally only do what I feel like doing in that moment. Whether that’s trail running and sitting in the woods, wandering aimlessly around farmers market’s, or binge watching my favorite show, we all need to find time to decompress and rejuvenate our mind and spirit. You know that saying, all work and no play makes some dude a lame person, well it’s true. You need to find a way to refill your heart, keep your inspiration flowing, and honestly, you need to sleep.
Build yourself a community. Surround yourself with those that inspire you, have your back, complement your talents and weaknesses, and know what you’re going through. When I started Crunchy, I felt crazy and isolated, like no one really understood what I was going through. So I sought out an entrepreneurial community; I started connecting with other entrepreneurs, attending meet ups, and built the support system that I needed. You may feel crazy at times, but you’re not. You’re living a life that’s against the norm. You’re forging your own way in a world full of cubicles. You’re following your dream, and it’s going to feel uncomfortable at times, so having others around that know what you’re going through, understand your growing pains, and support you even in your crazy moments will be everything.
What changing areas of your industry are most exciting for your company?
Technology is kind of a creeper; it’s everywhere. But, what is exciting is the potential that it brings with it. How it can simplify tedious tasks making our lives a bit easier, or connecting us in ways that enable us to have deep, genuine connections with one another, even when far apart. With AR/VR, we are able to bridge our reality with another, creating a world of expression that can transcend what we think we know and allow us to connect in completely new ways.
How are you a revolutionary?
Oy. Revolutionary? That’a a beautiful descriptor, but one I’ve never used to describe myself. Being a female business owner that embraces her femininity in the tech space shouldn’t be revolutionary, it should be the norm. Making sure my team receives fair compensation and knows their time and opinions are highly valued should be what all business owners strive for. And staying true to your voice while supporting other women and men to do the same shouldn’t be revolutionary, but what a society does innately for one another. However, if those things are considered revolutionary, then my hope is to inspire others to take the time to find their truth and live it, no matter how many social norms you go against or steady paychecks you walk away from in order to risk it on a dream. Your life is worth living in your most authentic way. You can always find the positive in the face of adversity. And when things start to feel uncomfortable, remember that’s good, because it means you’re reaching for something you believe in, and that is way less uncomfortable than living a life that isn’t true to who you are.
Emily transforms communities through entrepreneurship and innovation. She is a Branding Specialist and Growth Strategist who specializes in building the framework, platforms, and partnerships needed to be impactful in today’s challenging economy. Currently serving as the Executive Director of the Hatch AVL Foundation, a non-profit foundation supporting high-growth startups of WNC through incubation, regional programming, and events.