As an early-stage founder who’s been able to successfully secure funding and partnerships, what advice can you give around pitching a social impact venture?
I used to start my pitches with childhood obesity stats and why it was a problem, until one investor said to me, “I understand some kids are obese but how are we going to make money?” In that moment, I learned to pitch from the perspective of the investor. They don’t care about the idea, they care about who is going to pay for it. My revenue model is a little different so I realized I have to explain it more.
When I pitch now, I state the problem I’m trying to solve and go right into how healthcare companies and school systems are throwing money at digital solutions to help combat childhood obesity. I also highlight partnerships with nonprofits and other organizations that will award grants for this solution so they know that the money exists.
Everyone you pitch to is different, so my tips are to know your audience and what’s most important to them, always adjust your pitch for the listener and get clear on your value proposition.
You recently made some updates to your app. Can you share what those changes are and why you decided to make them?
In my first iteration of Go Go Healthy Kids, there was a deck of cards used along with the app to prompt kids through exercises. In the past year, augmented reality (AR) technology has become more advanced and is slowly being built into mobile devices and tablets. So there’s no need for the deck of cards now which means the app is a stand-alone experience and more immersive.
I’ve also seen that more and more companies are creating hardware for AR or mixed reality, like Google Glass eyewear. But no one is really creating content for AR, so that’s where my focus is now. Similar to video games, I want to use digital storytelling in AR—that way I’ll be ahead of the game.
Another thing we changed was the age demographic for the app. Right now it makes more sense for Go Go Healthy Kids to be geared toward students K-6.
Testing your idea or minimal viable solution (MVS) is so important, especially in the early stages of development. What feedback or discoveries in your testing phase surprised you most and helped you understand your product better?
I do two types of testing, one is user experience testing with kids to see how they respond to storytelling in AR. My story concept is a virtual world crashing into their world with a main character leading them through a journey of missions and challenges that are accomplished by completing an exercise or academic question. During testing, I discovered that the story wasn’t engaging enough because kids much rather be immersed in the story as a character versus just watching the story. It was such a small detail in the experience but it makes a huge difference in how kids engage with the app and the story being told.
The other type of testing I do is around business engagement with teachers. What I learned from them was that they can use the app as a transition tool. What that means is that teachers can have the kids use the app while they prepare for another subject or activity. Initially, I thought teachers could use the app to help with classroom management but I never thought to pitch it as a transition tool to help teachers get from one subject to the next.
You recently brought on several team members to help build your app. As an early-stage founder, what has that hiring process been like?
I currently have three to four people working with me on a project-by-project basis. Michigan is a blue-collar city, quitting your job to work for a startup without a guaranteed salary is unheard of. So recruiting and hiring is a little different here. What helps me find and retain the right people for projects is being able to show the progress I’m making in creating an actual business they can get on board with.
Right now, I’m not able to hire for full-time salary positions. However, I’m extremely resourceful so I’ve been able to fill in the gaps when I need a paid team member with different resources, programs, networks, and relationships. For example, in Michigan there’s an accelerator fund that gives funding to entrepreneurs. But that money can only be used to pay vendors in Michigan, so I used that money to get incorporated, hire an IP lawyer, pay for my website design, and hire a UX designer.
Going through the hiring process for projects has helped me focus more on the type of environment and culture I want to create for my business. I need team members that have the skillset I’m looking for but I also need team members that work well with my leadership style and pace. For me, cultural fit and expertise is the winning combination when hiring for my business.
You’re a Detroit-based social entrepreneur working in the healthtech space. How have you been able to build community and connect with peers in a city that isn’t known for tech?
Detroit is up-and-coming but it’s still got a ways to go before it provides entrepreneurs with the same level of community or access as New York City, Silicon Valley, or Atlanta. And to be honest, if I didn’t believe God wanted me in Detroit, I wouldn’t be trying to launch Go Go Healthy Kids here. I’m putting where I’m supposed to be over where I think “success” is.
As far as building community, I learned early on that co-working spaces work well for me, especially co-working spaces on college campuses with a tech scene. I also go to a church where a lot of entrepreneurs worship so I’m able to make connections there and feed off of that energy as well. I’m also very diligent about seeking out opportunities and resources that connect me to people in my industry.
Last year, you were a 2019 Echoing Green finalist and made its annual Social Impact Report. As you continue to work on your app, what are you most excited about this year?
I’m currently in a program at the University of Michigan where MBA students interested in entrepreneurship and venture capital will work on Go Go Healthy Kids for eight weeks. During this time, they will work on developing my business plan, create a VC pitch deck, and a fundraising strategy. This is another example of how I use resources to supplement for the people or expertise I need to take things to the next level. I’m super excited about this because I’ll have all of this brainpower and attention on advancing my app and business. I’ll also get to learn a lot along the way and have tangible deliverables that I can use in the future.
In what ways has your experience with DO GOOD X impacted you?
The DO GOOD X experience really allowed me to come into myself. The team helped me do the personal development work I needed to do before approaching entrepreneurship. Prior to going through the accelerator I wasn’t prepared for this journey. I knew in order for me to do things the right way I needed to have a healthy mindset. The team made sure that I was good and it really turned things around for me.
Being able to track everything back to a Christian startup accelerator points me back to God. It makes it easier for me to keep God at the forefront of everything that I do.
I truly believe DO GOOD X has the potential to carve a very unique lane in the social impact space. I believe there are Christian and secular investors who would love to invest millions in this amazing program and its high capacity team members. I thank God for the DO GOOD X team and truly believe the accelerator program can change the world.
What advice would you give to the next cohort of DO GOOD X Fellows?
No matter what it is, put God first and trust Him in everything that you do.