“I really, really loved my job, but I wanted to follow my calling to be an entrepreneur. I knew that we could really be successful if we just dedicated our time full time to it.”
Over a two-month time period, the quartet interviewed over 800 women in the process of starting Techturized. They received so much feedback that they decided to extend their target market beyond women looking for natural hair solutions, to black women of all hair types, including those who had relaxed hair, extensions, braids, and locs. Flashpoint invested $35,000 in Techturized last June, and now they’re raising a $600,000 round from outside investors and already have commitments to that end.
But the girls, who all collaborated to build their own platform, also know how to stretch a dollar and how to give back. All four of them had to live off of $35,000 from June 2012 until March 2013. Now, the ladies, who presented twice for Black Girls Code, are planning an Indiegogo campaign where a portion of the proceeds are given back to BGC.
As winners of the SXSW BiT Business Pitch Competition, Techturized will receive two free registrations to the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, May 15-18, in Columbus, Ohio. They will also automatically be placed as one of the finalists for the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition at the conference. Also, to celebrate their successful presentation, Techturized is Black Enterprise’s Tech Startup of the Week. Here, Mitchell, Watson and Martin to discuss how to craft a successful pitch, how the accelerator prepared them for success, and their plans for the future.
What did you gain from participating in Flashpoint?
Flashpoint was a really great experience particularly because we were the only all-black female team and the only team pitting to a black market with all -white male mentors. They were successful entrepreneurs who have built [and] sold companies for millions of dollars. We really had to educate them about what was going on in our market. More importantly, we got a lot of customer relationships throughout this process.
We learned to really magnify the potential of this market from an African American perspective. Also we really grew as business women. It was a transition from being a college student to being a business person. Learning numbers about the market, how to pitch and get investors interested, knowing how to get investors interested were the biggest things we got out of that.
How did you get into it?
One of our former professors started the program. Because of that relationship, he let us know the opportunity was open. We applied and had the interview and we also pitched to an angel investor that started the Flashpoint Fund and we received funding.
Who are some of your current advisors?
Georgia Tech College of Computing Distinguished Professor Dr. Merrick Furst. James Harris, founder of N4MD, who was in the first cohort of Flashpoint. We connected with him and because he had just gone through the process, he was able to help navigate us and help push us through the process. We were able to get the most out of the experience because of his foresight on what to expect.
Heath Hyneman and Kevin Wallace, who started a co-working space in midtown Atlanta called Hypepotamus. They’ve been very helpful. That’s where our office is located. Its really growing and bustling with getting Atlanta tech startups to grow. The last one is Jen Bonnett, creator of Startup Chicks in Atlanta. She has been phenomenal with helping us start up.
How did you prepare for the business pitch competition?
We are very accustomed to pitching. We had to think about what we wanted our audience to know when the pitch was over and make sure that we effectively communicated that. We looked at the requirements to understand exactly what the judges were looking for and we made sure we highlighted that in our pitch. We knew it was three minutes and we wanted to hit four specific topics. So, we split up our time so we hit each of those topics. For us, we knew the market, the team, and our product was important. We wanted the judges to know what we were building to solve the problem. Then, also, our business model. We made sure those things were crisp and clear.
What ‘s next?
The next year is really about user acquisition and generating revenue. We have a user campaign to reach one million women on our website. We launched that campaign with different key partners, and different marketing and advertising campaigns with bloggers in the hair-care space. We are also partnering with media companies to increase our reach and really hit that milestone of one million women.
How do you plan to reach that milestone?
We know that is possible because the number of African-American women in the US–particularly in Atlanta, which is our strategic starting point– is a heavily dense concentration of black women. To set that mark will help us be aggressive in doing what we know is in our potential. We will be building an e-commerce, personalized marketplace on MadamYou, and launching that so that we can start generating revenue.
Also, we will be doing a crowdfunding campaign in April on Indiegogo, which will give the public a way to support the company through donations. A portion of the money that we raise will be given to Black Girls Code.
What is one of your greatest achievements?
We have our first client, a nationally-distributed hair-care manufacturer, that closed early this week. It’s confidential for now, but we will announce them at our launch party on April 12. That is important to us because it validates that companies see the value in what we are doing from a consumer intelligence perspective and an engagement tool.