Often, startup stories focus more on the product and company than they do the people that made them possible. We at The Startup Collaborative have found that our mission statement to allow everyone an unbiased investment thesis to building their own tech-centric company allows us to step aside and let the entrepreneurs be center stage. The Behind the Founder campaign is meant to do just that — let the stories of those who call themselves TSC Fellows be told from their own perspective.
What’s your name?
Where are you from?
How did your upbringing influence you today?
I am the oldest of three with my siblings and I all being 4 years apart. At a young age, I was always ‘in charge’ and had a high level of responsibility. I grew up in a leadership role and much was expected of me, not only the oldest of the children in the house but the oldest of all my cousins. Growing up, I was always an ambitious leader and my parents consistently reinforced that I could be whatever I desired to be in life. They were supportive, they pushed me, and my dad specifically had a standard of excellence that really molded me. For this reason, my standards are high and no matter how ambitious the goal is, I will always 100% believe that it can be achieved.
Whether you’ve met them or not, who is one REAL person that has influenced you?
Maybe I have not personally met her yet, but Beyonce is real and she is my biggest existing inspiration, for both my life and career. She’s not only an entertainer and performer but a businesswoman. I’ve always known deep in my heart that at some point in my career, that I would be elevated to being in the public eye. I admire how she balances privacy and being internationally known. Her standards of excellence, how strategic and intentional she is in business, how she uses her platform and status to change people’s lives, and how no matter how successful she’s become, she never robbed God of his credit and the doors he’s opened for her. Beyonce inspired me to think bigger, to not just think about today’s success, but to think about longevity, about building a legacy, and being intentional in all decisions so that my future great-grandchildren can also reap the rewards of my hard work. I’m also inspired by my future children. On the days that I feel overwhelmed with all the challenges, I refuse to give up because of them. I want to be their first role model and to give them the best life possible. I want to be prepared to make that impact on my children’s lives, so I think about it daily and have decided to make the sacrifices now, so they can enjoy it later.
From a sketch on a napkin to officially starting up, what triggered the inception of your company?
I experienced the consequences of not having the courage to partner with other women and women-owned brands in the past. Once I had the courage to begin collaborating and saw the value in it, like millions of other women entrepreneurs, I experienced the challenges in securing quality brand collaborations. I witnessed women across the country experience the frustrating and time-consuming process for years, while simultaneously feeling like I wasn’t on the right path career-wise. I wanted to work with women entrepreneurs and raise the bar in how they were catered to, but for months I couldn’t figure out in what way that impact would be. The idea of HerHeadquarters finally came to me in the middle of the night. The next morning, I got to work.
How did the founding team meet?
I met my co-founder, Neosha Broadway, at an event. She came up to me afterward and when we began talking I felt an immediate connection with her and a ‘she’s the one’ feeling. I knew that I was open to the idea of having a partner and that I needed one, but I hadn’t officially started scouting. I had only gotten as far as to write down what I was looking for in a partner. We went to dinner the next day and it was only further confirmed that she was perfect.
Within The Startup Collaborative, what level was the most challenging for you, your company and why?
The hardest level was transitioning from a prototype to starting development of the app. I didn’t have the skillset to build it on my own or the money to hire someone at the rates I was being quoted. Just months prior I had experienced a head-on accident that resulted in my car being totaled and me being in the hospital. I took a big financial hit as a result of the accident, having to get another car and not working for weeks. My savings was cleaned out; I felt financially frustrated and business-wise, I felt stuck and unable to move forward. I remember receiving quotes from development companies as high as $115,000 and feeling like I couldn’t even afford to look at that number.
Within The Startup Collaborative, what level has been the most rewarding for you, your company and why?
The earliest levels, where you have to validate the need for your product by doing surveys and interviews with your target market laid the foundation of success for HerHeadquarters. I was able to establish partnerships with designers, developers, and even other brands based off the knowledge and statistics I discovered during that stage. Since then, every decision I’ve made regarding the product and future plans is highly based on the early knowledge we gained from doing that research and new users. It also gave me credibility, making it easier to land national press, further increasing the brand’s exposure.
Presently, what does a typical day look like for you and your company?
Each day varies, I schedule focus days for specific things. My most common tasks range from collaboration match-making sessions with current users, an interview with a media outlet, meetings with potential brand partners, team meetings, scouting and emailing potential investors, and lots of strategy sessions!
What’s next for you and your company?
We’re planning to release HerHeadquarters Version 2 later this fall. This version includes new features that give users a more powerful and customizable collaboration experience. We also plan to release in three additional cities before the end of the year: San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago. We’re also working towards raising our first seed round of funding.