Who are you and what business did you start?
We are a public benefit corporation that creates next-gen tech to combat gender-based violence & increase personal safety, offering affordable solutions to Gen Z & Millennials. We are harnessing the power of digital solutions to make the world a safer place online & in real life. Our first product, MySideKick is a comprehensive mobile app that empowers college students to combat gender-based violence on their campus.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My passion for combating gender-based violence runs in the family. My father has a black belt in jiu-jitsu and created a self-defense program for women based on the martial art in the early-1980’s. His VHS tape was nationally distributed and thousands of women attended his seminars. I grew up acutely aware that the overwhelming responsibility to stay safe fell upon the shoulders of potential victims. No one at that time was tackling cultural change or getting to the real root of this problem. Self-defense is not the way to stop gender-based violence in its tracks. Those were the analog days. We had limited resources and research at our disposal. I believe in the power of next-gen technology as an integral partner in the elimination of gender-based violence.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Being a non-technical founder and from the midwest posed some challenges that you don’t have on the coasts. Fortunately, limitation breeds creativity. With hard work and some luck, I have been able to bootstrap my business thus far. I also would not have been able to get this far without the help, mentorship, and financial support from Ann Arbor Spark, a start-up ecosystem & business incubator in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
From the very beginning, my focus is on building a community for my target audience. I did this through our blog, Instagram & Twitter accounts years before I launched MySideKick. We now have systems in place to funnel users from entry points on our social media accounts, blog, and website to download and actively use MySideKick. We have built tools into MySideKick to make sharing with friends effortless.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Since our initial product is for Gen Z college students, we had to pivot a bit due to Covid. We are very excited about the future as we expand MySideKick overseas and into other non-college students markets. We are also creating a brand new way of real-time threat detection & collection to predict threats and respond appropriately by listening to a user’s body and their environment to automatically detect threats before they even realize what’s happening.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Being a woman business owner is hard. There is no sugar-coating it. Want to make it easier on yourself? Surround yourself with other women and non-binary entrepreneurs. Even if you are in different stages in your companies, you are going through similar experiences and can relate & help each other like no one else can. This is the best gift you can give yourself and others.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Multiple Atlassian products, MailChimp, AWS, Microsoft Azure, SendGrid, Google Business Suite & Analytics, Canva, Slack, Adobe products, Sketch, Later
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Books: It’s About Damn Time by Arlan Hamilton,
Backable by Suneel Gupta,
Levers by Amos Schwartzfarb & Trevor Boehm,
Venture Deals by Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson,
Buyology & Small Data by Martin Lindstrom,
When by Daniel Pink, Hooked by Nir Eyal,
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Podcasts: How I Built This, Your First Million, Entreprenista, Masters of Scale, ETL (Entrepreneur Thought Leaders), Just B
Resources: The 10th House https://the10thhouse.femalefoundercollective.com/, sabakarim.com and follow him on Twitter at @sabakarim, Harvard Business Review, https://toolkit.techstars.com/. Note: if you are looking to raise investment, follow those investor’s & firm’s social accounts.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
If you are creating something disruptive, it means that you are doing something different from how everyone else is doing it. You are going to hear “No” from people and you should embrace that and see it as a positive, not a negative. Be very selective with who you share your vision with at the beginning. You need to become your most passionate advocate first.
Where can we go to learn more?
website: every2min.com , Instagram: @every2min