Author Archive

Your A-Z Guide to Funding Your Woman-Owned Business

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

by Marcia Layton Turner

Finding capital to start or grow a business is challenging. But if you know the lingo of the financial community, you may be able to get a leg up — or at least uncover other sources of funding you weren’t aware of.

The following is WomensNet’s A to Z guide to funding, which is designed to help you find potential financing partners.

A – Amber Grant

WomensNet’s monthly $2,000 Amber grants for aspiring and current women business owners are one potential tool to launch your new business — or to fuel your company’s growth. One additional $25,000 grant is given each December to one of the year’s Amber Grant winners.

B – Bootstrapping             

Since new businesses are typically cash-strapped, smart entrepreneurs work hard to keep expenses low. Instead of splurging on things like pricey furniture and fancy technology, they’re more likely to make do with what they have. That’s bootstrapping. The payoff can be achieving profitability faster.

C – Crowdfunding

Another source of financing is crowdfunding, as in using websites like GoFundMe, IndieGoGo, and KickStarter to announce a new product or business and offer incentives to individuals willing to make an investment. Those people willing to make a purchase are your potential backers, or funding partners. In most cases, the incentive is being one of the first to receive the new product once produced. On some platforms, the money raised isn’t released unless 100% of the goal is reached; it’s returned to the backers in that case. Other platforms forward all that is raised, even if it’s not 100% of the stated goal. The platform takes a cut for managing the fundraising campaign.

D – Debt

There are two basic ways to generate funding for a company: Debt and equity. Debt is when you borrow a set amount from an individual, group, or lending institution with a promise to pay it back with interest. Equity is the sale of ownership shares in your business, which you don’t have to repay. With equity, you effectively take on partners so that you don’t have to repay what you’ve borrowed. If and when the business is sold to a new owner, merged with another business, or goes public, anyone with an ownership stake reaps the benefit according to the percentage of the company they own at that time.

E – Executive summary (of business plan)

If pursuing a loan or investor is in your future, you’ll want to have a business plan ready to share. The first section of that plan is your executive summary, which should serve as a synopsis for what’s in the rest of the plan.  Other sections of your business plan include a product or service description, management team, marketing plan, distribution plan, organizational plan, and financial plan.

F – Factoring

An expensive but effective way to fund business growth is through factoring, which is the process of selling your accounts receivables – the money your clients currently owe you – to an outside firm at a significant discount. The reason to do this is so you can get paid today rather than 30 or 60 days from now. The downside is that factoring is expensive and firms will only pay you a fraction of what you’re owed. You can get cash almost immediately if the client is a major corporation, but it will be far less than you’re owed from your clients.

G – Grants            

While free money is scarce, other sources of grants for women business owners can be found using the tactics recommended here: https://ambergrantsforwomen.com/find-grants/

H – HUBZone      

HUBZone is a Small Business Administration program that helps small companies located in “Historically Underutilized Business Zones” get preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.

Here is a list of current HUBZones: https://maps.certify.sba.gov/hubzone/map#center=39.828200,-98.579500&zoom=5

I – Investors

Investors are individuals or organizations willing to provide the capital a business needs to start up or expand its operations. Investors typically provide financing in exchange for an ownership stake in the venture – they become equity partners.

J – Joint ventures

A joint venture (JV) is a cooperative initiative consisting of two or more individuals or organizations that agree to work together for the benefit of those involved. JVs are common in the online world, when two experts agree to work together to create a new program that leverages both their strengths. Typically, the JV partners then split the profits.

K – Kickstarter   

Kickstarter.com is one crowdsourcing platform where entrepreneurs can post product or business ideas and ask for financial support from the public. Kickstarter has positioned itself as the funding platform for more creative projects.

L – Loans

When you borrow money from an individual, bank, or organization, they are your lender. The money you are being lent must be paid back according to the repayment terms you agree to, which include how much you’ll pay, when, and for how long, on top of the interest you’ll pay for access to the money. The advantage of taking out a loan is that you retain ownership of your business, rather than selling ownership to outside investors.

M – Mentor

A mentor is someone typically more experienced than you who agrees to “take you under their wing” and guide or coach you to help you build a more successful business. Within corporations, mentors can become champions for their mentees, helping to smooth a path to promotion. In the small business community, mentors can be sources of referrals, new business, potential new hires, and problem-solvers.

N – Net 30 payments

Unlike retail businesses, where customers pay on-the-spot for their purchases, most companies receive payment after delivery of their products or services. The standard for many years was 30 days, or, in accounting speak, Net 30. However, in recent years, that standard has stretched to 45 and even 60 days, providing businesses more time to pay. That’s good news if you owe vendors money and potentially difficult when you’re waiting for payment. Which is why some organizations ask if you’ll accept a discounted payment if they pay you faster, such as a 5% discount if the bill is paid within 14 days.

O – Operating expenses

Operating expenses are costs incurred that help the business continue to operate. They are not directly associated with manufacturing of the product or services, however, and include costs such as employee wages, sales commissions, travel, and employee benefits.

P – Partnership 

A partnership is a type of business where there are two or more owners, each of whom can share varying degrees of responsibility for the success or failure of the company.

Q – Quarter/quarterly report

While the IRS expects companies to report on their profits and losses on an annual basis, most corporations issue quarterly reports, which summarize the company’s performance the past three months. Most quarters end March 31st, June 30th, September 30th, and December 31st, at least for companies that operate on a calendar year basis.

R – ROI   (Return on Investment)

The relative success or failure of a particular marketing strategy is often measured in terms of ROI. That is, what did I gain for a particular investment. For example, I bought a $10,000 newspaper ad – my investment – and what did that ad yield in terms of sales results. If you spent $10,000 and landed $20,000 in sales, your ROI is 100%. But if you spent $10,000 and only sold $5,000 you have a negative ROI of 50%. But ROI is only one measure of success.

S – Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is the US government agency established to provide support and resources to entrepreneurs. The organization’s services range from free counseling, through the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), loan guarantees, and counseling, through Small Business Development Centers, to other related programs.

T – Trade/barter

One way to obtain the products and services you need is to propose a barter arrangement with another business, to avoid having to pay cash up front. In most situations, bartering is done on a dollar-for-dollar basis. There are also formal trade exchanges, such as American Barter Exchange and ITEX, that allow members to perform services for one client and receive a credit they can spend with any other exchange member. Exchange members pay a fee to belong and pay a commission for each trade that occurs between members. Barter can be cost effective if your business has sudden excess production capacity or dead inventory that you haven’t been able to sell at full retail.

U – Unemployment claim (something to avoid) 

When an employee involuntarily stops working for you, meaning you fired or laid them off, they may be entitled to file for unemployment benefits through your state. The amount they receive that you are responsible for paying generally depends on how long they worked for you. The key thing to know is that even when you fire them, you may be responsible for paying their unemployment benefits. Check your state’s unemployment website to learn more.

V – Venture capitalist    

A venture capitalist (VC), sometimes jokingly referred to as a “vulture capitalist,” is an individual or firm willing to invest a sizable sum of money in your company in exchange for an ownership stake. The expectation is that your business will generate significant profits quickly, once the VC’s money is invested. After three to five years, the VC typically sells their shares at a profit and moves on to a new investment. The entrepreneur then must contend with a new owner or the risk of shut-down if the company hasn’t been making acceptable progress toward growth and profitability.

W – WBE certification

Contractors and individuals that do business with local, state, or federal government agencies have incentives created by the government to give a portion of projects to woman-owned firms, also known as women business enterprises (WBE). So that the government can be sure that a business is truly owned and operated by a woman, it created a formal verification process, called certification. State agencies have a certification process and the WBENC also offers certification.

X – Exit plan

Many entrepreneurs establish and build companies to create an income source for themselves. Some businesses are built with the primary goal of supporting the business owner; these are generally considered lifestyle businesses. Since the company’s revenue is dependent on the services of the owner, there is no real value in the business without the owner. Standalone businesses, however, that can grow and scale on their own, can often be sold or merged with other businesses. Entrepreneurs who think about what the company might be worth in a few years are contemplating an exit strategy – how they’ll remove themselves from the business and get some money out of it. In addition to selling the business, the owner could merge it, hand it down to children or grandchildren, sell of patents or real estate, or shut it down and walk away.

Y – Year-end

Most businesses operate on a calendar year basis, meaning their financial, or fiscal, year starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st. So the companies’ year-end is the last day of the calendar year. However, many schools end their fiscal year on June 30th and government agencies often close out their year on July 31st. Knowing when an organization’s fiscal year ends can help your sales planning process, since some companies will have money they need to spend before “the end of the year,” while others may need to pay for new projects “in the new year,” which may or may not be in January.

Z – Zero-based budgeting

Zero-based budgeting is a technique to track your income and expenses and match them up at the end of each month or quarter. With a zero-based budget, your revenue minus your expenses must equal zero. That doesn’t mean you should try and spend every penny you earn, only that you need to assign each dollar a category. That could include salary, raw materials investment, or savings, for example. It also doesn’t mean that you’ll ever have zero dollars in your bank account, only that you know where every dollar is.

April Amber Grant Awarded to Atlanta Music Education

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Last Friday, we announced five April Amber Grant finalists. Today, we’re excited to share the recipient and the qualifier for our $25,000 year-end Amber Grant.

Congratulations to Elexa Bancroft, Founder of Atlanta Music Education. In our interview below, Elexa tells the history of AME, shares what sets her business apart from others and dishes on advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs.

WN: Share the story of how Atlanta Music Education came about.

EB: I founded Atlanta Music Education almost 10 years ago after working as an educator in my city and constantly thinking to myself “wait, I think I can do this better.” I found myself working for companies and programs as a teacher that were all about profit at the end of the day — and not about the children.
I started the business by simply teaching music lessons in my own style in the back closet at the local music bookstore. Over the last nine or so years, I have now grown my idea to a full-fledged children’s music school with over 100 enrolled private music students and five co-teachers offering group lessons, summer camps and private lessons in all sorts of instruments.

WN: What does Atlanta Music Education instill in its students, and how would you describe your teaching philosophy?

EB: When I grew up taking music lessons, sometimes I would dread the day I had to go to class. I didn’t find my piano lessons fun and felt a ton of pressure. My main goal in my school is for students to constantly be looking forward to Mr. Pedro or Mr. Gabriel or whoever their teacher is to come over to their house for music time. And I think we accomplished that. Our philosophy surrounds a strong music theory foundation but with fun games, modules, songs the students love from the radio and lots of performance opportunities.
My program encourages more performance opportunities than any in our area. We put together two formal recitals, a winter and spring, (four shows per recital day) annually included in tuition. We also have many other opportunities like studio outings to see local theatre, opera and movie musicals to attend with the teachers.
One performance opportunity we are well known for is Kids open mic nights. This event I open up to any kid in the entire Atlanta area who wants an encouraging safe space to perform anything from classical to pop music.
I remember a few years ago at our first Kids open mic, we had only six students perform. But it always grew each few months and this year at our Spring Kids open mic, we had over 60 kids attend and perform!
We run this program for not only our own students but for the community at no charge. We enjoy coming up with fun themes like St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween and supplying costume boxes and photo booths for the children to enjoy in between the sets of songs. We also do three group songs for children who don’t feel like they are ready to perform a solo. This gives them a chance to come up on the stage and grab an egg shaker and be a part of the show.
My music school also has almost a dozen vocal students participating in a nonprofit (Performing Arts Conservatory of Atlanta) voice competition each April. In addition to sending students to this annual fundraiser and competition, all of our teachers volunteer as judges to help vocal students in other schools and studios get feedback for their performances.
One performance that happened last month that I am especially proud of is my inaugural Young Atlanta Music Club classical student performers concert. The Atlanta Music Club was hosting an annual concert called Young Performers; teachers in the area can nominate three students to perform a memorized classical piece for no charge at a beautiful recital hall. This year, we were excited to participate for the third time. However, when we submitted our students’ information, we received an email that they decided to no longer accept performers that were not at an advanced level.
I tried to explain the importance of having beginners and intermediate students perform their very short pieces and then be able to watch the older students’ more challenging songs as encouragement. But we were still turned away.
I decided to call the venue hosting the Atlanta Music Club and explain the situation. I proposed an idea to begin a new club called the “Young” Atlanta Music Club, where any child — no matter what level of performance they are at or their age — is accepted to perform at a free concert. The managers of the venue were incredibly generous and allowed me to have the inaugural performances two hours before the Atlanta music clubs concert. The concert was a hit with 14 kids performing, and I took all of the families out to an ice cream social afterwards.
I strive for my business to be the leading example of creating opportunities for children in music education. You can learn more on Facebook and Instagram.
WN: How do you acquire customers/students?
EB: I think the large and swift growth with our studio is attributed to the genuine love that myself and my co-teachers put into our weekly lessons and events. Parents can really tell we have an honest passion for music and for education. What makes us stand apart from the dozens of other similar music schools or after-school activity options is that students have a plethora of opportunities to shine in our program.
Our social media presence, along with word of mouth referral, are big factors. I work hard daily to post events, pictures and videos of our students and their accomplishments. We also have a full staff of actively performing musicians and that’s exciting to share with our online community, too.
Teaching private music lessons is a unique experience. We stay with these kids and families for years. We grow up with them, bond and connect, share meals, share milestones and attend their school concerts. It’s a relationship that puts a stamp on your heart forever and we are so grateful that so many families invite us into their homes each week.

WN: What are your plans for the grant funds?

EB: We are completely floored and honored to be the April 2019 Amber grant award winners. With this grant, we’re going to be investing in a sound system and a weighted keyboard for all of our events (instead of renting them). We’re excited to launch more locations and more opportunities for kids in our community to be able to showcase their talent and find a fun space to use as a creative outlet after-school.

With the annual grant of $25,000, I wish to launch a scholarship program to be able to give students with financial hardship the opportunity to study music.

My big project is to commission a female composer to write a short musical about a fun historical event from our city of Atlanta. We would premiere this show at some of the iconic halls and theaters in our city to highlight our talented kids and teachers. I want our students and all young people in the world to see that females can be bosses; they can be leaders in the creative and performing arts.

WN: What advice would you give an aspiring female entrepreneur?

EB: Don’t give up. There are going to obstacles, building losses, nay sayers and turnover. But keep going.
Find your “tribe” and lean on them during difficult times. Seek advice from your fellow entrepreneurs. People offering similar services are your allies, not your competition. Create a sisterhood of business owners and lift each other up in marketing, programming and even just post-work personal fun. Stay involved in your community. Find ways your business can better the lives of those around you. Use all your local news outlets, Facebook groups and newsletters to share your company’s exciting milestones and offers to get them involved in your passion and growth. And lastly, when someone says no, just find another way to do it — and do it with a smile. 🙂

Consider These Tips from FedEx when Applying for its Small Business Grants

Saturday, May 4th, 2019

FedEx media relations pro Gretchen Mathis was kind enough to answer a series of questions WomensNet posed regarding FedEx’s small business grant contest.

The 2019 winners were just announced (April 2019), so use these suggestions to prepare for the 2020 round.

The last paragraph of Mathis’ response offers suggestions for what you can start doing now to put yourself in a great position for next year:

Would you give us some history on the FedEx small business grant program?

At FedEx, we know that small businesses are the backbone of the global economy. We launched the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest seven years ago as a way to show our support for and commitment to helping small businesses grow. After announcing this year’s winners on April 29, 2019, we have now awarded over $778,000 to more than 70 small businesses across the United States.

Are there particular types of businesses that FedEx is looking to support, or that have a better chance of winning?

No, we’re not looking for any specific type of business – but we ARE looking for small businesses that have a demonstrated passion for what they do or sell.

How important is the quality of the initial application in moving on within the competition?

The quality of the entry is the most important thing in moving forward in the contest. Your entry profile is what the voting public uses to get to know your business and potentially vote for you. It’s also what FedEx looks at to get to know you, learn more about your business, and understand your plans for growth.

Do votes from the public determine the ultimate winner or is that only one factor among several?

Votes from the public are just one factor among several in determining our winners. This year, the 700 businesses that received the highest number of votes were considered for the Top 100 Finalists. And from those Top 100 Finalists, we chose our Winners.

How important is video quality from the finalists – or is content more important than, say, camera angle?

The video is really all about the content. We recognize that not everyone is able to produce a professional grade video and we like the authenticity of a “selfie” type video.

What advice would you offer applicants to help them submit the best grant application possible?

Advice for anyone thinking about entering the contest or any pitch competition in the future is “just do it.” You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Focus on telling your story, connecting to your audience and being clear about how you would use the grant money. You’ll get great exposure for your business and get to practice perfecting your business’ story. 

Thinking about past winners, what would you say they have in common as entrepreneurs?

We’ve had a diverse pool of winners each year – each with their own unique story and business. The one thing they’ve all had in common, however, is their energy and passion for their business. They believe in what they’re doing and are willing to put their all into making their business succeed.

What else should grant applicants consider when completing their FedEx small business grant forms?

In order to enter the contest, we ask you to tell us all about your business, what inspired you to get into it, what makes it stand out, and how you would use the grant to grow.

In addition to that, we do spend time looking at the social media channels of the businesses who enter the contest. We enjoy seeing how these small businesses have leveraged social media to develop an authentic and positive brand voice.  We also like reading about how the entrants are involved in their local communities, whether that be through mentoring other small businesses, donating to a cause they’re passionate about, creating jobs for the community, or doing good for the environment.

April 2019 Amber Grant Finalists

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Before the weekend arrives, we’re delighted to share 5 finalists for the April Amber Grant. The recipient will join 4 businesses currently in the running for our year-end Amber Grant of $25,000.

We hope to announce the April winner by the middle of next week. Until then, congratulations to:

Kitsap Family Wellness

Website

 

I Am Unique!

Website

 

Atlanta Music Education

Website

 

Eat Up! Catering

Website

 

Twist-Talk

Identifying The Best Mentor For you

Monday, April 15th, 2019

by Dr. Sydney Richardson

Dr. Sydney Richardson currently serves as Dean of College and Career Readiness at Forsyth Technical Community College. After years of facilitating workshops on mentorship, teamwork, and professional development, she launched Rae of Knowledge (RoK), a company that assists businesses and organizations in achieving their goals using relational strategies. Dr. Richardson resides in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with her spouse and children

For mentoring in the 21st century to work, mentors and mentees must embrace their roles. Mentees, especially, must know what to look for in a guide. Below are some characteristics and types of mentoring to consider when delving into a mentorship.

Five + years of experience in the field

Generally, a mentor should have no less than 5 years of experience in their field. Usually, it takes about 3 years to understand the field, and 5 years to become comfortable with one’s profession. The first year is to learn, second year is to make changes, and the third year is to perfect new ideas; therefore, by the time someone reaches the fifth year, that person already knows the rhythm of their profession, who the key players are, and how to implement change and make progress in one’s career. Also this person, more than likely, has experienced job advancement at least once. So while it’s great to have a mentor who has been in the field for 10 + years (which is becoming rare), 5 years minimum is enough to really help a mentee.

Now, notice that I stated in the field instead of with a company. That’s because the difference between the two is a personal preference. I believe that experience within the field matters more than experience within a particular company (unless there is a drastic difference between your company and others). A mentor with at least 5 years of a marketing background will have much to offer — even if that person has not been with a company for very long — because guess what?  Your interest is not in a company, but in navigating and advancing in your area, regardless of one company’s culture.

Proven time to dedicate to a mentee

The mentor that you choose will need to be someone who manages time well, as it can be shocking to people how much time mentoring actually takes. This person will not only need some preparation in the ways of mentoring, but will need to know (up front) how much time they should be prepared to devote to this relationship. This means that you [mentee] should have an idea of the time that you require. Do you require an insignificant amount of time (ex. 3 hours per month)? Or, do you require a larger amount of time? It’s not uncommon for mentees and mentors to communicate up to fifteen hours per month. Understanding what you want and the amount of time you hope to have with your mentor is critical to the success of this relationship.

Positive with the promise of moving forward

This one is a special characteristic to look for in a possible mentor. You may know someone who performs well in her career, but if this person is a constant complainer, or does not work well with others, do you really want that type of influence in your life?  Nope. A chosen mentor should be reliable. They should arrive at work on time, have good communication skills, and get along well with various people.  Disclaimer: Getting along well with others does not mean this person never says anything negative. It doesn’t mean that this person doesn’t challenge the status quo. It means that they are respectful in their actions.  This type of person knows how to use her agency and navigate through situations that brings about respect from her peers and superiors. Being able to do this means that your mentor shows promise of career progression, so you should be able to visualize this person in a higher position, representing the field to others, whether they will actually do it or not.

Respectful and respected

I mentioned that the possible mentor should be respectful, so let me delve into that a bit deeper. This person should know how to handle conflict, have challenging conversations, address issues with a superior, and even collaborate with colleagues in ways that bring about positive results. A person who can do this respectfully is someone who has spent time crafting her ability to work with others (and I don’t use the term work lightly). This is someone who does not shy away from tense situations, but knows how to confront them and achieve a level of resolution. This does not mean that a person never experiences a difficult day. But they should have some helpful ideas on how to handle challenging times.

Also, this type of person should be respected among others. This is a person who has proven to be trustworthy, so that when they speak, colleagues know that they are genuine, fair, and knowledgeable. Finding a mentor with these abilities can truly benefit you professionally.

*Notice that so far, I have not mentioned seniority. A person can have seniority, but not possess any of the characteristics mentioned above.

What type of mentoring do you want?

Now that you have a concept of what to look for in a mentor, decide the type of mentoring relationship that works best for you. Too many times, mentees take whatever format they are handed, but you actually have a choice in making this relationship successful and effective.

Traditional Mentoring

Traditional peer-to-peer mentoring follows the model one would envision. It pairs a mentor with years of experience with a mentee, and the mentor guides the mentee through a specific area (career, life, health, personal relationship, etc.). This guidance involves answering questions, meeting face-to-face, assisting with career planning, and being the mentee’s go to person. The mentor serves as a great resource of knowledge and wisdom for the mentee, and the mentee gains professional/personal development along the way. This model can often be one-sided.

Co-mentoring/Cross-Generational Mentoring

Co-mentoring is another option that pairs younger and older women together with the purpose of mentoring one another. It is not uncommon for a company to employ up to five generations at one time, and knowing how to work with various age groups is beneficial. Digital natives can provide guidance on the latest technology, social media, and ways to integrate work into other areas of life. This helps them develop their own leadership, teaching, and mentoring skills. In “The Values of Cross-Generational Mentoring”, Ken Blanchard states: “Cross-generational mentoring relationships can provide career-enhancing wisdom for young people, and protect older people from obsolescence.” As the workplace continues to develop generationally, learning from one another will become more critical to professional success.

Group Mentoring

Imagine being in a room with your mentor, surrounded by twenty other mentor/mentee pairs, all sharing stories of success, setbacks, and lessons learned. Group mentoring takes the traditional pairing of a mentoring relationship and adds opportunities for small group mentoring sessions with multiple mentors and mentees. While each mentor/mentee pairing has their own dynamic and lessons to learn, having once a month or once a week group sessions with a variety of mentors and mentees allows multiple pieces of advice to be shared and various lessons to be learned. You will likely learn that a fear you have is similar to a fear another mentee is facing. This option is especially great for networking groups, women’s organizations and businesses.

So, as you figure out what you want in a mentoring relationship, don’t forget to consider what you have to offer. Then, start asking other people for suggestions on possible mentors. A mentoring relationship is significant for professional success, so don’t wait until you’ve reached a certain stage in your career to get a mentor. Start now.

March Amber Grant Awarded to TheraV

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Last week, we announced five March Amber Grant finalists. Today, we’re thrilled to share the recipient and the qualifier for our $25,000 year-end Amber Grant.

Congratulations to Amira Idris Radovic, Founder of TheraV. In our interview, Amira discusses her unique product, shares her biggest obstacle, and much more.

WN: Share what issue your product addresses and how you’re providing a solution.

AI: Over 2.1 million people in the United States are living with limb loss, and 80% of amputees suffer from a condition known as phantom limb pain. Phantom limb pain is ongoing nerve pain in a missing limb after it has been amputated because the brain cannot recognize that the limb is no longer there.

The pain can be so severe that it leads to loss of sleep, an inability to function, and a decrease in quality of life. On average, it can cost over $3,000 annually per person to manage phantom limb pain. The most common method to treat this requires consuming a combination of medications, including opioids, antidepressant, and anticonvulsants, which have severe side effects. Other methods include repeatedly hitting the limb, mirror therapy, and surgery, which are ineffective, inconvenient, and invasive.

Unfortunately, phantom limb pain affects over 8 million documented people globally. With the limited resources available to the amputee community, the financial struggles of limb loss, and the stigma tied to pain in a limb that is no longer there, many amputees suffer in silence. To address these issues, we developed our first product, TheraV ELIX, a patent-pending drug-free wearable device that uses customized vibration therapy technology to stimulate the nerve endings of the residual (remaining) limb, disrupting the pain signals that are sent to the brain. The TheraV ELIX provides a drug-free pain management alternative for amputation pain suffers.

WN: How are you reaching your target market?

AI: To raise awareness about our solution to amputation pain, we work with prosthetic clinics by giving sample devices to clinics to trial with their customers. We also present the TheraV ELIX at amputee support groups across the country, in-person or through a video conference call.

When financially feasible, we attend the Amputee Coalition of America National Conference to showcase the TheraV ELIX and have attendees interact with our device. This usually leads to a customer referral or purchase of the TheraV ELIX. In addition, we use our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and our website) to share our journey, share our customer testimonials, and connect with everyday people living with limb loss. With these channels, we have been able to raise awareness of TheraV in the limb loss community.

In the future, we plan to purchase advertising space in magazines that are provided to the amputee community, and attend more conferences where we can meet amputees, family members, prosthetists, clinicians, and supporters of the limb loss community. We have found this to be the most effective way to reach a larger number of people in the amputee community.

WN: What feedback have you received form those who’ve used your product?

AI: Since launching TheraV ELIX in the summer of 2018, we have helped over 100 amputees overcome phantom limb pain, with 83% reporting a reduction in the intensity and frequency of their phantom limb pain. We have also been able to serve 53 Veteran amputees through crowdfunded public donations of TheraV ELIX devices. Since launching, we continue to collect feedback from our customers on how our device is performing and how we can improve. Here are a few testimonials from current users of the TheraV ELIX:

“I put it on at level 2 or 3, and it (ELIX) gets the nerve pain to subside and I’m able to go to sleep.” – Josh H., Veteran

“I cannot believe how well this thing (ELIX) works! I didn’t want to take gabapentin, so I put the device on and after a few seconds the pain went away!” – Hanbert F., Veteran

“You forget about the phantom limb pain.” – Harry S., Veteran

“My body relaxed more. My leg relaxed more. I was just able to sleep more comfortably.”- Gabriel M., Veteran

WN: What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced while running TheraV?

AI: My biggest challenge is building a talented and visionary team that can help me scale the business. TheraV recently became a team of three, with me, Amira Idris Radovic, as the CEO, Chris Wells as our hardware engineer, and Horitius Jen Lee as our director of outreach, who is also an amputee and a Veteran.

Finding and keeping talented people like Chris and Horitius has been challenging due to our lack of funding. We have had talented people reach out to us about working with TheraV, only to get disappointed when we mention a lack of funding to pay them (which is understandable). However, this means we must rely on bootstrapping as a funding method, while our current team takes on other jobs to supplement their income. This prevents TheraV from rapidly growing and expanding.

We are currently seeking an investor that understands our mission, our market, and is willing to actively work with us to scale TheraV.

WN: Share some advice you’d give to an aspiring female entrepreneur.

AI: I would advise aspiring female entrepreneurs to not be afraid to take a step forward and explore the business idea they have, even if it means failing. I believe it is better to try, fail, and pivot or perish an idea, rather than regret never taking a chance on yourself.

Aspiring female entrepreneurs must keep in mind that the dictionary definition of entrepreneurship is “the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit”. It is also worth noting that the risk is not only financial but can also be emotional, mental, and physical. To make this risk-taking process easier, I would advise female entrepreneurs to purse business ideas and opportunities they are deeply passionate about. This is because I see passion as the fire that fuels entrepreneurs and hardens their will to pursue their business ideas.