Dana Chanel is a 26-year old multi-million dollar entrepreneur who made waves all over social media with the development of the popular Christian mobile app Sprinkle of Jesus in 2015. The mobile app is the largest online ministry in the world with over 10 million users. Since then, her purpose to push the Black community towards building intergenerational wealth has expanded in a multitude of need-based online businesses such as the Curl Bible, Credit Exterminators, and Alakazam Apps alongside her husband Prince Donnell. With the goal of building family legacies, they put their family members in positions to run the companies.
The Philadelphia-based couple disrupted the tax industry by launching Jumping Jack Tax in 2018. It’s a user-friendly mobile application where users can receive tax preparation assistance by licensed tax preparers virtually or through in-person visits.
Dana spoke with Her Agenda about the importance of creating family businesses, what business owners should consider during this pandemic, and the lessons she has learned as a young tech entrepreneur.
Her Agenda: Very often we hear that earning a degree is the key to economic opportunity, high salary earnings, and stability. But in 2012, that was a different case for you as a community college student in Philly. Entrepreneurship wasn’t the career path you originally had in the beginning. Talk about that experience.
Dana Chanel: I did indeed drop out my freshman year maybe like two months into college, but for me, it’s about knowledge and being able to actually apply the knowledge to whatever it is that you’re attempting to do.
In the beginning, when I first started college I actually wanted to go into pre-med, I wanted to be a plastic surgeon. I didn’t know that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I just knew I wanted to make a lot of money. I didn’t know that there was a lane or an option [of entrepreneurship] because that’s not what I saw in the media. Once I started realizing that there’s this thing called an entrepreneur I was like ‘Do you mean to tell me I can create an invoice and tell somebody I’ll do something for them and then they’ll pay me and that’s called owning a business?’
Once I started realizing that there’s this thing called an entrepreneur I was like ‘Do you mean to tell me I can create an invoice and tell somebody I’ll do something for them and then they’ll pay me and that’s called owning a business?’
I didn’t have any entrepreneurs in my family, the only entrepreneur was my dad but me and him didn’t converse or talk to each other so I didn’t see that growing up. My dad and I reconnected after years of a horrible relationship and we built Sprinkle of Jesus together.
My dad and I reconnected after years of a horrible relationship and we built Sprinkle of Jesus together.
Her Agenda: Let’s take it back to when you developed the Sprinkle of Jesus app, what inspired you to incorporate your faith into building this online Christian ministry and mobile app? I can presume it is not easy boldly claiming your beliefs in the world of public criticism?
Dana Chanel: I actually don’t agree with that because we have the internet. The internet is a beautiful place to connect with others. There’s a community for everything on the internet right now. So it wasn’t about me incorporating my beliefs, it was me doing what I wanted to do and the people who wanted to be a part of it [connected with it].
Her Agenda: You have since gone on to build other businesses like Curl Bible, and Jumping Jack Tax which you co-founded alongside your husband. Why was it important for you to center your family around your business strategy?
Dana Chanel: You can build with someone, and at the end of the day they can go their separate way and I’m sure family can as well but if we can struggle together and be broke together and live in the projects together, we can be successful together and rich together and have provision together. That’s why it was so important to center it around families because of generational wealth and being able to pass on something that someone else can benefit from after you are dead.
Her Agenda: It’s one thing to mesh family and business. At times you hear horror stories about family dynamics and money. How have you and your husband been able to balance each other’s energy and characteristics while growing a business?
Dana Chanel: By having order. We have family meetings, we have family goals, we get everybody’s opinion about what they desire and what they think. The [family] contributes but most importantly we have order. We have a designated person in charge of finances. We have a designated person for marketing and advertising and we just segment people’s gifts and talents really well. In the same way that a company hires somebody, we just do that with blood. They already live with us they’re already growing and being molded and being prepared to be extraordinary and so we just knew very early on that we were going to treat our family like a corporation.
Her Agenda: As a young female tech-entrepreneur you are in the business of teaching others how to catch their own fish. What returns have you seen on your investment helping others build their own businesses?
Dana Chanel: There’s no better gratification than someone saying because of you during COVID-19, I am no longer jobless and have a way to provide for my family. It’s literally seeing the change in the family dynamic and not just creating business owners but creating extraordinary individuals who believe that they’re capable of doing anything, and then have the capital and the access to actually achieve. So many people lost their jobs to the COVID-19; all of our partners had a way to make money.
There’s no better gratification than someone saying because of you during COVID-19, I am no longer jobless and have a way to provide for my family. It’s literally seeing the change in the family dynamic and not just creating business owners but creating extraordinary individuals who believe that they’re capable of doing anything, and then have the capital and the access to actually achieve.
Her Agenda: The tax business is still thriving under this pandemic and with millions of people filing for unemployment all over the country, and the government providing stimulus checks, how have you been able to prepare for the influx of people who are working to complete their taxes?
Dana Chanel: This was always the plan. You just watch where the culture is going and watch what people are doing. Jumping Jack Tax is a virtual tax preparation company and we wanted to continue to give families opportunities at a low entry cost so we can educate our people and then teach them how to actually run the business.
Our goal was to create a need-based business that wasn’t going anywhere that our people could jump into and start providing services immediately because we do indeed provide schooling for doing taxes and we actually provide you with the blueprint of running the virtual business.
Her Agenda: Have you ever been overlooked because of your age, gender, and ethnicity in the entrepreneurial space?
Dana Chanel: The door that the Lord has for me will always be open, and if it does not open for me then I wasn’t ready for it to begin with. I am going to be honest, I truly believe in myself and I believe that there’s nothing that I can’t accomplish and if anything, being a woman makes me even more qualified to do what the world has never seen before. I love that I’m Black, I love that I’m Hispanic, I love that I’m a woman, and none of that makes or takes anything away from me that wasn’t going to be already mine. I understand that there are real racial disparities and a lack of equality, but if I continue to play into that with my brain, it will stop me from believing that I can do the impossible.
Her Agenda: What are some key lessons you have learned as a business owner that people who are just starting off should be aware of?
Dana Chanel: One quote, “How you do anything, is how you do everything.” A lot of people look at extraordinary people’s stories like mine and say they want to be extraordinary, but aren’t willing to train extraordinary. If you’re lazy if you lack discipline if you’re discouraged, don’t get it twisted, money is not going to change it if you’re not going to change. If you’re a worker right now and you work for a nine to five and you do the bare minimum, to be quite honest you’re going to do the bare minimum for your business. And so I would just encourage you, to start training yourself to be excellent in everything that you do.
If you’re lazy if you lack discipline if you’re discouraged, don’t get it twisted, money is not going to change it if you’re not going to change.
Her Agenda: Is there anything else about your journey and your life that you want to put out there for our audience?
Dana Chanel: I’m at this point in my life where my story is exhausting. I want to talk about other people’s stories right now. I want to see the fruits of what we’ve deposited into other people. The goal is to plant a field, not to continue to grow as much fruit on my tree. And so I say if you’re reading this right now, stop continuing to have analysis paralysis [stop overthinking and overanalyzing what you are called to do.] If you want to open up a tax office, if you have a beauty product and you need distribution and you want growth then get it to the people that can help you.
[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]