At a very early age, my parents instilled in me that no problem was too large to solve. In our home, solving big problems and creating enormous impact was a lifestyle. Undoubtedly, it was my parents who shaped my perspective and entrepreneurial drive, making me a second generation serial entrepreneur.
I wrote my first business plan at age 7. My first social venture was in junior high school--a recycling program that generated over $50,000 in nine months and helped address the school’s deficit. I launched my first nonprofit in college, a traveling talk show helping teens address mental health disorders and pursue healthy and balanced lifestyles, that attracted the attention of none other than Oprah Winfrey.
By the time I got around to my first tech start-up, I had a wealth of experience, but still wasn’t credible in the eyes of play-makers. When I started GoNanny, a transportation and care platform that matched busy parents with vetted nannies, I had sold everything in my apartment, moved in with my sister, and found myself sleeping on her nursery floor in order to make my dream a reality. When I approached the SBA for a loan, I was turned down because I lacked assets and credit. I wasn’t credit-worthy--a position many small business owners find themselves in. I tried pitching GoNanny to investors, but was turned away because I was pre-revenue and had no proof of concept.
I could have easily given up at this point, but I was so committed to GoNanny. I knew there was a need and that this solution addressed it. So I taught myself the technology and built a customer base on my own. I literally stood on the corner of Michigan Avenue pitching to parents as they walked by. It wasn’t fancy, but it was effective, and I became post-revenue.
Again, I found myself needing funding, but this time it was to scale up, and again, I received rejection after rejection. So I hopped on a 19-hour Greyhound bus ride to Washington D.C. and won my first investor pitch competition. Immediately, I began scaling.
Bootstrapping the majority of the way, GoNanny’s revenue grew year over year by 200% and had a waitlist of over 10,000 families. I needed to increase our capacity and scale. However, every time I tried, the model broke down.
At a breaking point, I looked to the data we had been collecting over 2 years and it became clear why the model wasn’t working. The data also revealed a smarter, more scalable model--equipping childcare centers with a SaaS platform that allowed them to use existing employees to safely transport children and provide short increment care. This data driven model impacted the whole childcare ecosystem. As a result, GoNanny had incredible growth, closed contracts with two distinguished organizations, and projected revenues of $1.2 million within 12 months.
With this market valuation, I was accepted into Techstars--the #1 accelerator program in the nation. Mind you, this is no easy feat--it is harder to get into Techstars than it is Harvard. Halfway through the program, I was on the verge of closing a $1 million fundraising round.
Then Covid-19 hit. The stock market crashed. Childcare centers were shut down. GoNanny’s recurring monthly revenue went from $80,000 to $0 overnight. Just as quickly, our investment round funding evaporated. GoNanny’s income remained at $0 for 100 days.
I had to pivot, or watch everything I had worked for fall apart. I began working with business support organizations (BSO) to help restaurants and retailers recover. I realized that Covid-19 was just one of the many problems affecting BSO and small businesses, so I implemented two critical strategies--1) executing research and development with BSO and their small business clients and 2) extracting data while they used the platform.
Those strategies gave birth to GoLogic. To date, GoLogic’s platform has generated revenue growth and cost reductions for 100 small businesses and because of its robust data aggregation solution, helped BSO secure $430,000 in additional funding. Based on the incredible work GoLogic has done, it received backing from Google, and I was honored by Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago.
Additional accomplishments include:
- Winner of the UPS Pitch Competition with Marcus Lemonis
- Winner of Invest Chicago Women’s Innovation Award
- Winner of Pipeline Angel Pitch Competition
- Top 100 finalist for the 2017 Chicago Innovation Awards
- Techstars 2020 Alum
- Backed by Google for Startups
- Winner of Callab Capital Pitch Competition
- Winner of Northwestern University Pitch Competition
- First African American woman elected to the Small Business Advocacy Council of IL Board of Directors
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Technology Community Champion Awardee
And this is just the beginning. I am committed to growing small businesses everywhere and giving them the tools they need to thrive.
Everything I do, in my business and personal life, is driven by my core beliefs. I believe that the most important goal in life is to find and fulfil your calling--the purpose behind your existence. The most powerful tool any of us have is our mindset and you need to be willing to risk it all to achieve success. I believe that it’s not about what you know, but rather what you don’t know. I believe that to achieve long term business success utilizing and continually increasing technology is imperative. I believe that the key to unlocking opportunities can be found in a business’ daily performance data. GoLogic isn’t just a start-up, it’s the culmination of my core beliefs and I am here to partner with you in your journey.
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