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Showing posts from 2022

Startup Day 536

It's that time of year when my back and/or shoulder acts up, when it's hard to sleep, when multiple to-do lists (professional, personal, kids' schools, family gatherings) run on repeat through my mind. A fellow Founder and Mom remarked that she's the one responsible for creating the magic of year-end in her household, all the while building her startup. I can relate. In response, I'm trying out an intentional respite idea here. How can I close "the office" during the last week of the year? What do I need to put into place to support stepping away for a week? This was so much easier when I worked for someone else and merely had to find coverage and fill folks in on what to do in my absence. There are a couple reasons it's hard for me to step away: 1. I like my work. It gives me purpose and immediate feedback in ways that being present in other areas of my life doesn't. Don't get me wrong -- there's immense purpose in other areas of my life s

Startup Day 479

Empowered Together's enterprise pilot is entering its final stages and here's what we've learned: About 20% of my individual touch points have resulted in meeting user's needs engagement of users asynchronously and with me is high engagement of users synchronously and with each other is low So what? Needs directly related to their children brings parents to the table. Community with peers could be a future benefit but it's not what's driving user behavior. For the next month, I'm engaging in customer discovery conversations to better define the problem. I'm endeavoring to answer this question: "What is the job a parent hires Empowered Together to do?" The answer to that question will drive persona creation, then testing the stickiness of the solution with a broader audience, and another pilot. Over the past month, I've wrestled with this process because it feels like returning to square one. The difference, though, is that I'm equipped

Startup Day 399: Enterprise Pilot Launch

It's finally here -- the day that Empowered Together launches its first enterprise pilot with LOGAN .  By the stats, it's been: 399 days since I started a pilot with individual parents, 195 days since I was introduced to LOGAN, and  25 days since LOGAN and Empowered Together formally agreed upon pilot terms. I'm grateful to have an initial roadmap for enterprise partnerships. Now I have some learnings under my belt about the process, especially regarding timelines, key stakeholders, and roll-out procedures. Reach out if you're curious to learn more. The other element I try to capture herein is the personal and emotional impact of startups on founders. This morning, my daughter gave me a high-five and said, "good job, Mom," when I reminded her today is Launch Day. She gave me a magenta Mardi Gras-like necklace for the day that I'm wearing. A colleague from my Veterans in Residence program messaged me encouragement as did a lifelong friend whom I've con

Startup Day 366

It has been a year and a day since Empowered Together 's pilot launched. On the actual one-year anniversary, I was too tapped out to reflect in a meaningful way. I pulled together a meager post in the evening and called it a day.  How come? Well, I was tired from the day's strategy offsite, reflecting on what's working, what's not, and where we're headed. I also got a couple pieces of disappointing news: I didn't get into an accelerator I was hoping for and a prospective pilot partner declined our proposal.  My life involves a lot of holding things in tension -- family and work, disability discrimination and hope for a better future, knowing where Empowered Together is headed and thwarted on the way there. This all aligns perfectly with the ultimate tension of the "already but not yet" nature of God's kingdom. Things on this earth are complicated and imperfect. I catch glimmers of God at work, of His love piercing the darkness, of Jesus' compa

Startup Day 332

A couple days ago, parents across the US felt the gut punch of another school shooting. It reminded me of December 14, 2013 when I was pregnant with my eldest child and stood watching the news. I thought, "I don't want to bring a child into this world." My now 8 year old asked if the teachers in Uvalde had the student do their lockdown routine. This is the world I've brought two children into -- elementary students practice lockdown drills, sometimes those safeguards aren't enough, parents fear for their kids' safety at school, parents struggle to communicate this travesty to their kids. And just how does this affect my startup? Well, my productivity this week has tanked as my heart has been ripped asunder. We're encouraged to bring our whole selves to work. That's especially important to me as an entrepreneur working with families. That makes weeks like these all the more painful. As people cry out about rights and protections, I want to curl up into

Startup Day 325

Today I'm writing to remind myself of what female founders are capable of. I'm writing something I can revisit in moments of doubt and imposter's syndrome. Near the end of this day, I lamented the overdue social media post, the pending follow-ups to prospects, the presentation for a startup accelerator that won't write itself.  But then I paused that voice in my head. Yesterday, an advisor described the vision in my head of supporting ALL parents and primary caregivers of children with disabilities, especially those most marginalized. She wants to help me create that system change. Today, I had two amazing conversations -- one person wanting to introduce me to a major company to pitch a pilot of Empowered Together  with its employees and one agency wanting me to present to its partner orgs about ableism and intersectionality.  Those are big wins right now. They also come against a backdrop of juggling five medical appointments across two days. As a female founder, I &qu

Startup Day 304

When I was in college, I applied for a scholarship and my faculty interviewer said, "this is a really competitive process. If you don't get the scholarship, be upset for a nanosecond and then refocus yourself and move on." For anyone who's known me since childhood, it'll come as no surprise that I wasn't accustomed to failure. In my mind, that scholarship was already mine. Turns out I needed the professor's advice. I didn't get the scholarship and I was upset yet there were more important things for me to focus on. Fast forward to last night. I got my first opportunity to pitch Empowered Together to an audience. Despite a strong presentation, I/Empowered Together didn't win the pitch competition. I allowed myself a nanosecond of disappointment and then got back in the game. There was still a whole evening of networking ahead of me. Honestly, I walked away with things that are even more invaluable as I build the business: contacts and offers of warm

Startup Day 295

I'm part of a founders' community on Slack with an emotional-support channel. That's the place where we entrepreneurs post our struggles and receive love from peers who understand. One day, I get accepted into a program with pro bono legal support and I'm flying high. The next, I learn that a similar startup is making strides and I doubt my ability to execute. Given that I experienced the same roller coaster with my first startup, I'd say this journey is common to most founders. My first experience helps me approach things with a little more wisdom this time. Here are a few things I keep in mind: 1. I keep my eyes on my vision of a world where all families of kids with special needs are supported, heard, and included. 2. I remember that my primary identity is God's daughter and not founder. 3. I incorporate practices outside work that are life-giving. Of course there are days when I falter on one or all of those, but keeping them in focus over time helps me stay

really, "friend"?

In my last post, I talked about the crazies who were friending me on facebook. I started accepting requests from people whose profiles didn't contain vulgarity or illegal substances, just to see what might happen. This DM from one of those "friends" was too good not to share. I won't share the person's identity but they fit roundly within one of the two personas I described in my last post. I emboldened my favorite claim of the DM. " Hi, let me send you a quick message to explain why I reached out. Right now I’m doing Breakthrough Sessions (at zero cost) that take you through a powerful, step-by-step process, proven to unlock your most extraordinary life. As humans, we naturally reject the unfamiliar and easily get trapped in our comfort zones, which unintentionally robs the “unlocked” mind of the success and joy you see others creating so effortlessly. But you know what? It’s entirely possible to rewire your brain! Whether you’re a professional or business o

Startup Day 255

I'm employing the scientific method in building my business. I just recorded a podcast where I talked about applying this method to any business issue. I start by developing a hypothesis. Then I create an experiment to test that hypothesis. At the end of the experiment, I evaluate the results and determine whether the experiment proved or disproved the hypothesis. If the former, wonderful! If the latter, I create a new experiment to test the hypothesis. Right now at  Empowered Together , I'm applying the scientific method to acquiring users. My hypothesis last month was that I could attract parents of children with special needs on social media because that's where they tend to look for solutions for their children. My experiment was to share Empowered Together primarily in facebook groups and measure how many requests to join came from those posts. Now, I've got to back up to three years ago when I decided to eschew facebook because I recognized some negative patterns

Startup Day 232

I wrote an email to my mailing list today and talked about a shift in focus to reach parents directly on social media. Because my updates are kept short (3 updates, 3 asks), I didn't delve into the "why" behind the shift. We like to celebrate the resounding successes rather than dwell on things that didn't work so well. The point of this blog series, however, is to delve into what works and what doesn't.  Asking school clinicians and therapists to share Empowered Together  with their families didn't work in the sense that it didn't result in requests to join Empowered Together.* Maybe those channels can be effective down the line but I couldn't crack the code to it right now. Where I was  seeing requests to join was from a few facebook posts I made. Now that has me exploring the channel of social media and it makes sense when I think back to early customer discovery conversations. When I asked parents where they went to find support and answer kid-rela

Startup Day 204: #MyOwnTrail

  One of the cool parts to this startup journey is connecting with other entrepreneurs. This time around, I'm grateful to know many more female entrepreneurs than the last time I co-founded a startup. Also, the folks I'm meeting are incredibly generous. For example, I connected with AuthenTech , a movement of startups creating value-driven technology, and one of their members, OwnTrail, enables people to chart out their journeys and ask one another for help. Here's a picture of my trail and you can find the interactive version here . I posted a Help Beacon to my trail, asking members to share my startup, and a total stranger shared it with her contacts! Perhaps I've grown forgetful but I just don't recall this kind of open-heartedness when I last started a company. 

Startup Day 199

A flurry of requests to join Empowered Together came through recently. Reading through parents' answers to a few simple questions humbles me. Parents pour out some of the hardest things going on in their lives. To be entrusted with those cares reminds me this work is important. Parents are looking to grow and become the best parents they can be, navigating often difficult challenges on their journeys. The privilege of being a part of their story fills me with gratitude.

Startup Day 189

  This morning, before my daughter was sent home from school and my husband took a COVID test, in that quiet interlude I reflected on the last six months at  Empowered Together , listing what's working, what's not, questions I have, and ideas. That simple exercise helped me recognize some gaps and identify ways to address them (e.g., following up with prospects). There was plenty on the "what's not working list" but more than I anticipated on the "what's working list." The reflection reminded me of the joy I have on this vocational journey. It sure beats where I was a year ago in terms of sustainability and mental wellbeing. It's clear that God guided me in this direction and equipped me with skills I'd need while also surrounding me with people who have skills I lack. Entering a new year, I'm grateful for this startup and all the people who've been part of its birth.