294: How To Access Capital For Your Business (w/ Olivia Owens of IFundWomen of Color)

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294: How To Access Capital For Your Business (w/ Olivia Owens of IFundWomen of Color)

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Today in the guest chair we have Olivia Owens. Olivia is the Vice President of Entrepreneur Success at IFundWomen and the Creator of IFundWomen of Color. IFundWomen is the go-to funding marketplace for women-owned businesses and the people who want to support them with access to capital, coaching, and connections.

In January of 2020, Olivia developed IFundWomen of Color, a program dedicated to advancing entrepreneurs of color by addressing the unique pain points diverse founders face when it comes to accessing capital for their businesses. This funding ecosystem is designed to empower early-stage, women entrepreneurs and bridge the funding gap for women of color.

In this episode:

  • Olivia shares what IFundWomen is + how & why she started IFundWomen of Color within the established company.
  • We dispel myths about what crowdfunding is, who should crowdfund, and what kind of network you need to have to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. 
  • We speak about the mental blocks that prevent some of us from launching a crowdfunding campaign, and so much more

This is an episode, you’re going to want to bookmark plus share with every woman business owner you know.

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IFundWomen: @Ifundwomen

Olivia Owens: @OliviaLOwens

Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:02

You're listening to side hustle Pro, the podcast that teaches you to build and grow your side hustle from passion project to profitable business, and I'm your host Nicaila Matthews Okome. So let's get started.

Hey, Hey guys, welcome. Welcome back to the podcast. It's Nicaila here. And today in the guest chair, we have Olivia Owens. Olivia is the vice president of entrepreneur success at IFund Women, and the creator of IFund Women of Color. I Fund women is the go to funding marketplace for women owned businesses, and the people who want to support them with access to capital coaching, and connections. In January of 2020. Olivia developed IFund Women of Color, a program dedicated to advancing entrepreneurs of color by addressing the unique pain points diverse founders face when it comes to accessing capital for their businesses. Since funding ecosystem is designed to empower early stage, women entrepreneurs and bridge the funding gap for women of color. In this episode, we get into what I fund women really is how to leverage the resources it provides. And we dispel myths about who should crowd fund and what kind of network you need to have to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. And we also get into the mental blocks that prevent some of us from launching a crowdfunding campaign. So I really love this episode, it's one that I am going to bookmark, I think you're gonna want to bookmark this plus share with every woman business owner that you know. So let's get right into it.

Welcome, welcome to the guest here, Olivia, thank you for being here.

Olivia Owens 1:49

Thank you so much for having me really excited for our talk today.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:54

Yes, glad we're able to do this. And before we you know, really jump in, I just want to make sure that everyone understands like what is iphon women? What does the organization do? And provide?

Olivia Owens 2:05

Yes, I find women is the go to funding marketplace for women doing businesses, and the people who want to support them. And specifically, we provide access to capital through crowdfunding grants. We also offer business coaching, and we have a community where entrepreneurs are able to connect with each other. And our number one goal is to close the funding gap for women entrepreneurs, that's what we're in this for.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 2:27

So you are one of the founding members, what attracted you to the organization and its mission,

Olivia Owens 2:33

I actually have a very personal connection to I find women. So I grew up with an entrepreneur mom, and really watched her build her business and also watched her struggle to access capital, as so many of the women that I support today do and it wasn't until she found I found women that she found a tool that could really work for her. And so she was able to raise $30,000 for her business on the platform. And that was right around the time that I was making a career pivot move to New York City and, and was able to meet the founder Karen Khan and instance, energy fit really loved the mission, I moved to the city with one clear mission of I want to do something that helps people become a better version of themselves. And I find women fit into that ethos very clearly. And so yeah, I was able to join the team started out in marketing and have been here for four years since.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 3:27

I mean, I can definitely relate to wanting to do something that just helps people be better. And I love that I love that you have an entrepreneurial mom, not many people experience that. So that's really cool. And then speaking of entrepreneurial, you know, you have experience being an intrapreneur, which so many people try to do. And you know that is being able to start something new within an established company. So can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to start IFund women of color? What's the difference with that particular sector of the company?

Unknown Speaker 3:59

Absolutely. I think it's very similar to anybody who who's out there starting a company I recognized a problem. While women of color represented 70% of the women on our platform, which is no surprise considering out of the 1800 new businesses started in this country every day. 89% of those are started by women of color. They were only representing 30% of the funds being raised. And so while we see a similar funding disparity play out across pretty much every funding option out there, we said Not on our watch. This is something that we can directly address and create a solution for. And so I launched Ifund women of color in January of 2020. mere months before the pandemic, yes to close that gap on our platform and we were able to launch with caresses our founding partner with a $1 million investment in one March hit. We were able to very quickly pivot our programming to serve our customers where where they needed it most in that moment. and that was for emergency relief funding to keep their doors open and keep going, whether that was to buy new furniture for the outside patios that we now all needed to have, or whatever it was, you know, we were court 200 Women of Color in our community initially and since have been able to support hundreds of women through our cross streams fund. And yeah, it's, it's been really exciting. And in the first year, we were able to move the needle on our cumulative funding volume, women of color now represent 51% of the funds raised on the platform. And I would tie that success to really understanding the obstacles and that we're getting in the way of success. And so crowdfunding is a tool that requires you to leverage your network. And so if you don't feel like you have a network, you can be an inaccessible tool. And on the other side of that it flips, everything we've been taught on its head, it's not about putting your head down, grinding it out, working really hard. It's putting your vision out there and asking people to believe in it and not just believe in it, but pay money for it. And so that brings you into a whole different state of money fears, making the ask fear, self doubt imposter syndrome. And and not having necessarily examples of people who look like you and have your shared experience. Neither was that successful. Exactly. And so that's what we've been able to create. And I found women of color to date.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 6:36

That is amazing. And, you know, we need to talk about this, we need to break that down a little bit. Because you touched on this. There are a lot of assumptions about who can raise money when you're able to raise money. Can you talk a little bit about that? And how you dispel that for founders when they come on to the iPhone women platform to understand that yes, you can raise money as well and and crowdfund, I should say, just to be specific crowdfund, and there are ways to do that, even when you feel like you don't have a strong network. So can you talk a little bit more about that?

Olivia Owens 7:12

There's so many different kinds of myths behind it. And I think ultimately, that's because we only have kind of one story of what success looks like in business. But it's a fallacy. If, right now, success is defined by raising hundreds of millions of dollars for your business, but only 1% of founders, regardless of their gender raise venture capital, inherently, that can't be the definition of success, or we all lose. And so I think a lot of the the initial conversations that we have are first and foremost. What is your long term vision for this business? Or this side? Hustle? Is this something that you just want to do on the side for a few years? Is it something that you want to create a legacy for your family? Or is it something that you want to grow and scale really quickly and have some type of exit based on that vision that helps you decide what types of capital are right for you. And really, it's a funding journey, you're going to leverage multiple types of capital as you're building your business and pushing it further. And we really see crowdfunding as the first stop on that journey to prove demand before you invest in supply. The reality is the majority of startups fail. And so we're all about failing fast and failing cheap, and is a low risk debt free way to get your idea out there and prove out if you if you have a real business, because a real business is when you have customers paying you for your product or service.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 8:44

And you're so right about that one story that one story is out there. And I just see it so much. I actually just, you know, that's one of the things that I wanted to highlight with this podcast is to get away from that story. I don't do a lot of conversations with people who talk about raising or pitching and all of that, because I think it's such, it's something that not everyone, very few people need to be thinking about at this stage. And it just has. Yeah, it's very rare. Like you said, it's not that it's impossible. But there are other alternative methods that you touched on, that you can approach first on this journey. I also like that you call it a journey. We're not saying it's one or the other, like you can never raise, but your pitch and the things you develop and learn about your business while you are preparing for your crowdfunding campaign. We'll help you down the line if and when your business requires that you raise. So let's talk about that. Because one, I want to kind of dispel any myths that we are taking people's money to test. Like that, you know, crowdfunding is a way to you know, get people's money and that's not what we're doing here. So who qualifies? When when when you're getting people ready? What do they need to do to be ready to start a crowdfunding campaign.

Olivia Owens 10:04

Yeah, so I think, first it's, I'll define crowdfunding to get us grounded. So crowdfunding is raising small increments of money from lots of people that you know, that adds up to just enough money to achieve a specific goal. And that goal isn't $1. Now, crowdfunding isn't a tool that's going to help you fund the next five years of your business, but it can help you get over the obstacle that's in front of you right now. So whether that is manufacturing the first line of your product, or building out the prototype for your app, or opening a physical location, really getting clear on what that next step is, and then figuring out what's the minimum that I need to raise to accomplish that. So I think grounding us there is really important. And then the other side of that is, when you're crowdfunding, you're not asking for a donation or charity for your business, you are selling products, services, content experiences, in exchange for cash, that will help you push your business forward. So I think the lightbulb goes goes off once people understand this is about an exchange of value. It's not about donation or charity. So then, when you go out to make the ask, it's not, hey, you could support my business, I would really appreciate it. Hey, I know who I know, you're a fellow entrepreneur, I know, you've mentioned that you're having trouble with social media, I'm actually offering a social media workshop package, downloadable tool that would really help your business and then you'd also be helping me push mine further. And so really grounding yourself in that in that exchange of value is so critical to getting into the mindset that you need to be in to raise this money.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 11:41

You know, what's interesting about that, Olivia, it's, I think, something else that is a misconception. So you know, you're helping Tom lock that for me as well, is that when you do a crowdfunding campaign, you kind of need to have these tears of freebies that come with donating, like so. Okay, you donate to this, then you get this when we reach our goal, and you get that when you donate this amount. So within your model, you're saying that you can actually give things in exchange that are valuable, just as valuable as the amount that someone would contribute. But they could be things that people find value in your mind. Like they ask things like your services, your social media coaching.

Olivia Owens 12:23

What are some other things that you've seen people build into their campaign? Exactly. And I think the place where you have to start from is what are the things that people are already asking me for that I'm just not monetizing yet? What are you the go to for whether it's resume review or new fashion coming up for this season or organizational tools, tips and tricks, it's, it's really understand the value that you're already driving to people and then just monetize it, you can get super creative with it, you can think outside of the box. And I think the beauty behind crowdfunding as well, is you're leveraging your entire network for this campaign. But probably there's only a segment of your network that is actually your target customer for whatever it is that you're raising funds for. So crowdfunding gives you the flexibility to say, hey, you may not need this service, but I know that you have. One of my favorite rewards is somebody had this secret family chili recipe that everybody loves. So she's sold that recipe on her campaign, exclusively, if you wanted to see the behind the scenes of this recipe, and it went like gangbusters, because that's what she was known for. And it was a personal kind of touch. And it gave those people a reason to support the campaign, whether or not they wanted to slip suit. And so I think the best thing about our platform is you don't have to reinvent the wheel. We have so many campaigns on our platform, you can see what they offered and figure out how you can customize that to your business, your superpowers and your network.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 13:51

I'm glad that you mentioned that because seeing other ideas definitely jogs your own mind. So you take the pressure off of oh my god, I have to build this all from scratch. And speaking from scratch, like you guys do such a great job of supporting on every level from the coaching. And can you talk about that as well? So when you join I fund women like what is the process? And then what can you expect, like resource wise?

Olivia Owens 14:14

Yes. So joining iPhone women is as simple as getting in our Slack network following us on social and we have a never ending well of tools and resources for you to leverage our key one is the iPhone one method playbook, which is a free Excel sheet that breaks down the iPhone woman method to approaching a crowdfunding campaign. It's a four step process. The first one is honing your pitch, getting really clear on the problem that you're solving and how your product or service solves that problem. The second one is mapping your network. I think our number is this thing that just lives in tangibly in our head and you know, we're putting pen to paper on that how many people do you know and then realistically, how many people can you get to contribute to this campaign? Yeah, and then the third piece is your Word strategy. So just what we're talking about, what are the different things that you're going to sell. And the last piece is your marketing strategy, it takes five to seven touches to get somebody to convert. So what are those five to seven types is going to be, you're going to be posting on social, you're going to be doing email marketing. And most importantly, you're going to be doing that one to one outreach and directly reaching out to people and, and letting them know that they can get in on the funding. And so we have that playbook, we have a free crowdfunding ecourse. And then we do offer one on one business coaching, where you're able to work with a coach and strategize specific to your business. Awesome. So yeah, they're all the tools, all the resources, we also do free workshops, a bunch every single week. So there's a lot to dive into.

So what kind of businesses have you seen, do really well on your platform and have really successful crowdfunding campaigns? Sure, it's so not rooted in the type of business, it's rooted in the type of entrepreneur, honestly, I think it's the mindset that you go into this campaign with, I mean, if you don't believe you can raise the money, you're not going to raise it, a you have to be willing to make the ask to raise and also, you have to understand community building. And I think that's one of the the biggest pieces for me. And one of the first conversations I'm having with entrepreneurs, because the reality is, if you can't find your customers before your product or service exists, the idea that they're going to materialize out of thin air once your product or service exists, is not real. And so

Nicaila Matthews Okome 16:43

that applies for everything, everything in life, I talk about this to my podcasters as well, like, you've got to know who you're talking to, before you

Olivia Owens 16:51

launch, and where they spend their time, and what their biggest pain points are, and who they like to connect to what they're tapped into and draw them to you by adding value to them. It's free to build community that cost no money. It just takes time and, and dedication and a willingness to put yourself out there. And so it's the people who understand that and have a willingness to do that, that are successful, like crowdfunding, because they've already, I think the other big thing is, when my friends and family don't have money to put into my business, that's okay, you can build, you can build a community outside of that of your target customer who are really hungry for the value that you're looking to provide, and leverage them for the campaign. But again, that's going to take time. So if you're launching your campaign, and then having the question of like, okay, well, how do I build this community? It's late. Start now start today doing that, and those are the entrepreneurs that are most successful.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 17:49

Now, do you support the community building aspect? Is that something that you, you know, through their through the resources you provide you really encourage people to do before they launch their actual campaign?

Olivia Owens 18:03

Yes, that's the entire point of the iPhone women network. Because so often, our network is made up of your target customer, whether you're looking to connect with moms, or you're looking to connect with corporate women, or you're looking to connect with fellow entrepreneurs. That is a beautiful starting point. And then I think there's also a beauty to leveraging each other to get further faster. One of the other reasons why I think I fund women of color is so important is because I think women of color have been sold this scarcity fallacy, the idea that there can only be one of us at the table or that, why would I be able to get that grant or access to that funding. And I think being in a space where we can show that know, us, giving you shortcuts, removing obstacles, avoiding rookie mistakes, that helps us all. And I think, I think the scarcity fallacy creates a reality where we're cutting ourselves out before the system even has the opportunity to it's already hard enough to navigate the system. But you have to let yourself get into it first to really overcome. And so the community building pieces is critical finding your target customer. That's one of the main things that I coach on. And I find women because I love building community. I think it's such a powerful tool. And then it also allows you because when you get into entrepreneurship, so often it's because you're trying to solve a problem that you've experienced yourself. And you may have a very clear idea of how you want to do that. But if you build a community, your community may tell you Okay, well that's nice, but this is what we really actually care about. And that's the information that you want and then also if you do need to pivot if you do need to adjust those people are going to follow you not because of the the product that you're providing them but the ultimate value that they've they've gained from being connected to you

Nicaila Matthews Okome 20:00

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So let's talk specifically about I found women of color because again, you saw the need for this within the larger body within the larger organization. And I'm curious to know, you know, you've touched on various parts of it. But were there like three or you know, two or so big things that you just kept seeing over and over again, and entrepreneurs of color that you said, Okay, I need to solve for this, I need to narrow down and focus and talk to these women because I'm tired of seeing this pattern.

Olivia Owens 22:06

Yes, I would say the main two things were analysis paralysis. I could be talking to an entrepreneur for the course of months, about okay, we're gonna do this, we're gonna do this and never never launching. And so it's like, okay, how do we accelerate the launch? And so we've been able to do that with the crest dreams fund. Where caresses the first funder of their campaign with a grant. So now they have a reason to lock it. It's like you, you want this money. Okay, we're getting started. But beyond that, it's also the the affirmation from a brand like caressing Hey, we see your business, we see the opportunity there, here's some money to help get you started. I think that helps themselves leave component to it. And then I think the other pieces, just understanding what you're raising funds for, and how to position it because I think when when we when we get to the early days of this program, it's like, okay, well, I'm raising money for programming or to hire and it's or, or for marketing. And it's like, okay, but funders out there don't really care, to help you fund your marketing for your business. But if you can position it in a way where what will a hire help you accomplish? Or what will marketing help you accomplish? It'll allow us to launch our accelerator program, it'll allow us to open a physical space, it'll allow us to impact 100, Black moms, whatever it is, you have to ground it in the Empower. And so it's that positioning that I also think I consistently saw women of color struggle with when it came to crowdfunding.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 23:51

Oh, that right there. That was a little bit of a sermon. I mean, bookmark this episode, you guys, because even as you're speaking, like, so, so many light bulbs are going off in my head about because I see those patterns as well. And I absolutely think that the more that we can help people to push through analysis, paralysis, even to start the side hustle, and then to actually start doing what they need to do to get it off the ground. And yes, you do need to actually launch and you do need to put yourself out there because that's something else that people struggle with that I see is putting themselves out there. Like you can't hide, you can't have no one no, it's your business but also have a successful business very. Business models can operate like that in today's world, yo, I hate to break it to you. You can't like I don't want anyone to know I'm doing this on the side. We got to work through those fears.

Olivia Owens 24:47

We do and one of the one of the most mind numbing questions I get is okay, well, I'm going to launch the campaign but I really only want to push it to a few People are like, I don't want to put it all over. And it's like, well, then how are people going to know about? It? How can how are they going to know the problem? Because you exactly put yourself in the mind of the consumer. Today, especially in this tick tock era, we expect the content that we receive to be so hyper curated to our interest. And so the burden is on you to show people why they should care about this. Not slyly post about it once or twice and expect them to know we're also getting so much information thrown at us. So if you feel like you've been screaming from the rooftops and reality, they probably only heard about it once or twice. Yeah. Or never No, never. Exactly. And one of my favorite, but not actually favorite stories was is an entrepreneur who really didn't want to put it out there, closed her campaign to the final posting, thanks to everybody who supported really appreciate it, she probably got five texts being like, Wait, I didn't even know you were doing this, like how can I support and just that reality of us think because this is your everyday you live and breathe this, that everybody else has done that with you, but they're not. And so really, you do have to put it out there, if you're gonna get it going.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 26:20

Yep. And my advice to is to pretend that each time you post, no one sees it. Because really, every time you post, if only a small percentage of your, the people who follow you see that? Like let's say, on a good day, maybe 10%. But it's probably less than that, right? Let's say 1%. So that means just to even get them to see it, not even read it, you have to post it, you know, 10 more times 100 more times. Okay, not 100. But you know, you know what I mean? At least give it enough time, so that your audience can even see it not even read it, you have to remember, like people might see the email have the best intention of opening it, never open it or they may open it have the best intention of contributing and never contribute. I always like to say when it comes to crowdfunding, I don't know, well, maybe not crowdfunding. But when I fundraise in the past, people love that last minute push like, Oh, yeah. That's right. And so you just can't be afraid to send those messages and let people who wants to unfollow or unsubscribe, let them do that thing. Because they were never truly in the, you know, the community to begin with. If they don't understand what you're doing, and why you need to send those those messages, let them go, they were not for you.

Olivia Owens 27:48

One of the things that I really want to hone in on is, crowdfunding is about everything that happens before you launch the campaign. And I think that's another big mistake. It's like, you'll put the campaign up there. But you've done no prep work to help set this up for success. So in that same vein, of letting people know, people should know about the campaign well in advance before you launch again, because if it takes five to seven touches, you want to start that process, you have people who are ready to contribute on day one. And so I think it's so critical to prep your network for this. So they're ready, they're, they're there. And they plan for this. And now it's the time to take the action. But we always talked about how you're going to see the highest number of contributions at the beginning. And at the end, people love like a big splash moment, an announcement and then they love five days left, four days left three days ladder, so on and so it's but it's also like, how do you create many moments of urgency throughout whether you have a limited edition reward that's only going to be available for these days, or you have many milestones like we need to get to $10,000 by this date to make sure that we can hit our launch. We also recommend an incognito launch period where you're you open your campaign up, but you're only going to a specific segment of your network first, because the reality is people are followers, they do think that doing them, if you're launching publicly with a couple $1,000 in the bank, we're going to be like, Oh, wow, she's killing it, let me know versus it's really hard to get somebody to be the first. So those are just some kind of insider tips. And again, like that's, that's what you get in the coaching. That's what you get and all the tools and resources because if this is your first time crowdfunding, how are you supposed to know? So we really want to be that education source for you.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 29:37

Absolutely. And another mental block that I hope we can help people get over because I know it's one that I struggled with. Whenever I had to fundraise for something I would think like, well, people are gonna be like, I know you have a job. Why don't you pay for this yourself? Or maybe maybe you need to work a little harder on your business. Why can't you afford to hire someone else? Why can't you you know, like, so what I'm trying I have to say is, I think there's a little bit of fear or worry around the perception of you asking for money for your business. What's your response to that? How do you help people get through that mental block?

Olivia Owens 30:14

Definitely. I mean, I think put yourself in the shoes of when you've been asked to help somebody, I think a great way to talk about this. One of my favorite sayings is from Glennon Doyle's book untamed where she talks about, there's no such thing as one way liberation. The idea that when you free yourself, you are inherently freeing the other person on the other side as well. So whether that's you go out there, make the ask for your business, you're now helping another woman know that like, Oh, this is acceptable. This is something that I can do, because I see her doing it. Wow. Or think about anytime somebody asked you for help. Yeah, and what a gift that is to you. Because it's like, Oh, my God, I get to use my value, my purpose, my worth to help another person. Beautiful. You don't sit there and you're like, why are they asking me for help? I don't want to do that. And you're like, Okay, let me know. And also people can't help you unless they know what you need. And so I think, wow, let's say in your network, they there may be those five people that have something negative, say or judgment, that's a reflection of them, not you. Why would you let those five people keep you from the 100 other people who want to support you and help you get to where you're trying

Nicaila Matthews Okome 31:24

to go? Oh, that liberation line, then is amazing, because you're so right. Like, I think that crowdfunding in and of itself, yes, you have to do the groundwork before. But then the campaign in and of itself is a marketing strategy, like marketing and sales, marketing and sales, all of a sudden, people are seeing all this buzz around your business. They're seeing all this motion, this forward motion and momentum. So you're also giving yourself this marketing campaign while you're earning money. So what happens after the campaign? What are some ways that founders have leveraged the campaigns to move forward? Do they continue to do campaigns? Or, you know, are you allowed to do more than one crowdfunding campaign? What happens?

Olivia Owens 32:08

Absolutely, I think one of the most interesting things about crowdfunding is while you do walk away with the funding, something that's maybe a little bit more valuable that you walk away with is your level of self belief and understanding of your own capacity. And you can bring that energy to the next levels of your business, because I always like to say there's no such thing as a destination and entrepreneurship with each next level comes new things you don't know. And so when you realize like, oh, I can handle things that I don't understand, because I proved it to myself, when I raised this, this capital through crowdfunding, you can bring that to the to the next level. But specifically to answer your question, people can absolutely do multiple crowdfunding campaigns. One of my favorite stories is an entrepreneur who initially raised for a summer dance camp in her community, for people with special needs, sold out instantly. And then she came back, another time to raise $100,000 to actually open up a studio in a full time location. And so again, that that, that idea of proving demand before you invest in supply, testing it out, and then going bigger. And that's the beauty of crowdfunding, because you build a community around this thing, they supported the first iteration for like, wow, that was such a success, they're gonna be there to support the next iteration as well. And you're gonna get a bigger following, because again, that that crowdfunding campaign was a marketing campaign, and now people want to know more about it. And then there, it also opens you up to other funding opportunities, because I think one of the biggest challenges when it comes to leveraging other funding options is they they are looking for some proof. And so when you're applying to a grant program, and maybe they have a revenue requirement, and it's like, okay, well, I'm just trying to get this business off the ground, you can leverage your crowdfunding campaign I was able to raise $10,000 for XYZ or if you're pitching an angel investor, it's look I was able to raise $25,000 From my network, they all bought the membership, this is what they're really hungry for, I need an additional $100,000 to bring it to life, you have that proof to stand in. So those are just a couple of the different ways that you can continue to leverage this initial crowdfund.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 34:24

Now I fund women of color also has pitch competitions. How does that work? How do you get involved in pitching your business? Yes,

Olivia Owens 34:31

so you join if and women of color, there's an application that you can, you can leverage and we host different events throughout the year where you can get the opportunity and that's really what we're working towards in our sessions. It's how can we get your pitch tight, get you to a strong business model and put it out there and and pitch in a safe space, a space with a panel of judges who look like you and understand your life experience, which I think is Sadly rare to be able to get access to, but also outside of iPhone, women of color. And women also has iPhone women Entrepreneur of the Year, which is our biggest funding program that we do where each year we name the iPhone women Entrepreneur of the Year and that founder gets a $100,000 equity investment in their business. And I think that puts a powerful stake in the ground because I think one of the reasons that get gets attributed to why there's such a funding gap is because women aren't building VC fundable businesses. And that's simply not true. There's a lot of pattern matching that goes on in the VC space. And so they're looking at historically what has been successful. And historically, that has been businesses run by white men. And so how do we show other examples of businesses who can get to that level and really put our stake in the ground by putting iPhone women on their cap table. And oftentimes, these are businesses that we've kind of followed along for our multi year journey to see them get to this stage. So applications riflemen entrepreneur of the year are open through June. So definitely get in there and apply. And I also think the reason to apply for things like this is, it's such a good force function for you and your business to do the exercise of answering the questions and make sure you know how you need to be positioning this. So I definitely recommend you apply.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:21

Okay. And so in order to apply, you need to also be in iPhone, women of color now,

Olivia Owens 36:26

for the pitch competition, yes. But for iPhone, I'm an entrepreneur of the year any entrepreneur can apply.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:31

Okay, I love that. And you're so right about answering those questions, I find that whenever it's time to answer, especially when you think that you have a non traditional business, right, like you talked about pattern matching that goes on, and the fact that you feel like I don't really fit any of these patterns. So when it's time to answer questions, it can be a little intimidating, like, Oh, they're never gonna look at this business, they're not gonna take it seriously. But you have to push through that, because you're defining a new type of business. So you need to continue to put that in front of people's faces. So they start to understand it. And I'm speaking so myself. Because I do shy away from applications. I'm telling you now, I'm admitting this in front of all of you guys. And it's something that I'm going to stop in 2022. So there's that. And the other thing you mentioned, so you touched on the award being equity investment, but prior to that, if you are doing a crowdfunding campaign, you do not have to give away any of your business at all. And so I think that's one of the great things about again, starting with crowdfunding and putting that in your raising journey. So talk a little bit about that, in it. Are people afraid of that process? Is that why you you know, you have to do a lot of education around the difference between crowdfunding and raising venture capital. Talk about that.

Olivia Owens 37:49

I think, ultimately, we are afraid of what we don't know. And so another thing with iPhone women of color is that is the place to ask the quote unquote, dumb question. So that you can go into other rooms and feel confident, feel like you know, what you're talking about, know your stuff, we need those spaces where we can be vulnerable, and have our fears, our emotions, our anxieties validated and affirmed and also say, but still, we're gonna persevere and and do the thing. And so I really think it's just a fear of not knowing, and not knowing where to go.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:30

To overcome that. That is so so true. So we're pushing past that together. You guys, this is why I love community based resources like this. And this is why I wanted to have this conversation on the show, because I think exploring alternative methods of getting capital for your business is so so crucial, like this is not the year where anyone is going to struggle anymore. Like this is the year where we're going to find a solution to anywhere that we're hitting a wall. So let's talk about podcasting a little bit and podcasting businesses. Has anyone done a crowdfunding campaign for that? Are you finding Are you seeing podcasters on iPhone, women of color now,

Olivia Owens 39:12

we are seeing podcasters. And I want to see more, because, again, like podcasters are inherent community builders, and they're so tuned in to what their listeners want to hear their pain points or questions, all of that. So, absolutely crowdfund for your podcast, it makes so much sense. And then it also allows you to test out what does phase two of this podcast look like? Do we want to go to the merch route? Do you want to go the live event route? Do we want to go some type of subscription experience? It allows you to test out okay, this following that I've created? How can I monetize them more by delivering to them what they're really looking for, and find a way to test that out? So absolutely. I think it's brilliant to crowdfund for your podcast to really figure out okay, where are you Do we take this thing next?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 40:01

Yes, yes. I'm glad that you mentioned that. And something you touched on that word monetize, right? So that word can put some people off, right? It can make them feel like, Oh, you just see dollar signs, when you think of this x that you created. And I want to unpack that. So another thing that I think some of you guys listening might struggle with, when it comes to asking people for money for your business, whether that's through a product on your website, and promoting that you have that or through a crowdfunding campaign, we have to do away with the guilt about charging people or asking for money for something that we are creating, like, there's a cost of goods, there's a cost of services. And in order to make a profit, you then need to have revenue, you need to have somebody pay you so that you can have that profit. So do you also deal with people who struggle with this like icky feeling around charging money? Making money? And how can we push past that?

Olivia Owens 41:00

Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 41:04

i Because, you know, when you mentioned podcasts, and I just thought about the fact that, you know, a lot of people think of it as something that's supposed to be free. And so whenever you create something that some people think are supposed to be free. First of all, though, some people aren't your audience, they aren't their customer. Right? We have to break through that. Like, if you are creating something that cost the time and effort, that means you've put a cost in there. Now. That's the cost of goods. So now, how do you monetize that to earn back what you've made and more to make a profit? Yeah,

Olivia Owens 41:33

so the the way I'm going to approach this is I think we spend a lot of time talking about the funding gap problem. But another stat that really sticks out to me is the average annual revenue of a black woman doing business is $24,000. Now, that is a number that we can move by creating revenue generating businesses, and I think a lot of the hold there is getting comfortable with making money for the value that you offer. I think, oftentimes, I'll talk to an entrepreneur and they will have zero revenue in their business yet, and they'll say, and we're giving 20% back to, or we're giving free scholarships to. And it's like, yeah, we don't need

Nicaila Matthews Okome 42:17

laughing at the free scholarships. Because this, this is familiar

Olivia Owens 42:21

sound, you know, yes, exactly. And I think that we overestimate what it takes to add value, and underestimate how much that value should cost. The thing about our businesses and our podcasts, and what we're creating is they are inherently wrapped in giving back to our community serving, adding value. So you don't need to on top of that, create some type of purpose opportunity to validate the fact that you're charging money for what you're doing, you're inherently adding value by being out there by pouring into people. And so if you want to continue to do that, if you want to scale, if you want to expand your reach, you have to monetize that and make money from doing it. And so I think a lot of it is coming back to do I believe that the product or service that I'm creating is valuable. Okay, then I see people buy things every single day, whether it's from Amazon, or Instagram or Tik Tok, people are spending their

Nicaila Matthews Okome 43:27

people that complain about what you charge or buy stuff from Amazon and read exactly. And so it's like, okay, I

Olivia Owens 43:34

know they're spending money, I know that my thing is valuable. So I'm going to put it to them, for them to get access to it. And so yeah, I think that's a big, big part of the conversation, of getting comfortable with charging for the value that you offer. And I think that that plays into even like the corporate world as well. It's like, if you're going to get a job, and they're offering you a salary, and you know what you're worth, and you know, how hard you're going to work, you know, how you go above and beyond, you know, how you drive impact, you better negotiate, you better get as much as you can and, and that's the energy that we have to bring to this if we really want to build revenue generating businesses, and I think revenue is the best funding source that exists out there. And so how do we how do we get that going?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 44:21

Yes. Oh, there's so many places we could go with this Convo. We do not have enough time to cover it all. But that salary negotiations is another guys. I mean, and I think the word worth kind of gets mixed up in there sometimes, and it's kind of misconstrued too, because like, it's not even always about that, right? A lot of times we are being offered salaries that are just less than the industry rate period. Right? Because they know that you won't negotiate, they know you won't push back because you're so happy to be at that company with that brand name. So that's the first problematic part. The fact that there's not any transparency salaries and what people are making. So that's why they're able to give you this and give Chad something else, right? And then when it comes, you know the bring it back to this conversation like with crowdfunding? Yes, let's see more of us recognize that it is okay to charge money it is okay to raise money like you, you're not creating a business to give things away for free like that is just not, that's not a business Exactly. Like literally the IRS after three years of that they'll be like, that's cute. This is no longer a business. Like this is a hobby, you cannot claim. So I really hope our conversation today with Olivia has inspired you guys to start thinking about how you'll get your ducks in a row, the first step is to head over to iPhone, women of color to start getting these resources. So you can know what you need to do to think through like, what is it that I'm even presenting? What am I offering? What is the value here? Because the other thing is, some of us, you know, we get really excited like, Well, I'm gonna make money. Well, I'm gonna raise money, but as your product good, or service good? Do you have a service? Do you have a product? Yeah. Is there like a qualification to join like, do you do, like, hey, maybe you want to go back to the drawing board, or what happened after you come in, at minimum,

Olivia Owens 46:19

you need a website and social channels to show people that you've taken this idea out of your head and put pen to paper to it. But like, the other side of the crowdfunding to prove demand conversation is if you're not able to raise the funds, maybe you're trying to solve a problem that people aren't willing to pay for. Maybe you haven't nailed your target audience, maybe you're positioning wrong, and you get the is wrong, and you get the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and fix it before you spent 1000s upon 1000s of your dollars trying to get this thing off the ground. Yes.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:53

So before we go into a quick lightning round, I'd love to know, you know, where can people connect with you? And I find women after this episode?

Olivia Owens 47:04

Absolutely. We are I fund women on all social platforms. I am @OliviaLOwens across all social platforms. So definitely get get connected. get tapped into the resources. That's definitely my biggest tip. leverage the resources that are out there.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 47:22

leverage the resources. Oh, this was a good one. I mean, I don't usually say that in the middle of an interview. But I've really enjoyed the conversation like I'm going to be re listening. And I am going to be rethinking you know, the some of the things I'm doing. So I really hope that you guys do as well. So now, let's jump into this lightning round. Number one, what is the resource that you can share with everyone listening that will help them with their side? hustles?

Olivia Owens 47:50

The IFundWomen method playbook? It it's a force function for you to map out the foundation of your business. What's your pitch? Who is your customer? Who's your audience? Who do you have reached out to? What can you sell them? And how can you market to them? So absolutely the iPhone women method playbook. And you can download that for free on our website.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 48:09

All right. And number two, what's been the best business book or podcast episode that you've consumed that you've recommended to women in the iPhone, women of color community? Ooh, that's

Olivia Owens 48:21

such a good question. I always go back to the big leap by Gay Hendricks. I think really understanding your zone of genius. And also your zone of incompetence, helps you figure out okay, where where am I really strong? Where do I need to build my network in these other areas to set myself up for

Nicaila Matthews Okome 48:40

success? Number three, what is a non negotiable part of your day, tapping back into into the community, I

Olivia Owens 48:47

get to meet with them or twice a week and coming out of those sessions. It's always such a strong reminder of, okay, why are we doing what we're doing? What is the impact that we're having, and really grounded myself in that? So it's definitely tapping into the community.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 49:01

All right. And number four, what is the personal habit that you think has significantly contributed to your success?

Olivia Owens 49:09

I think self reflection and self awareness is so key and continuing to pour into yourself, I think, how we treat other peoples, how we treat ourselves. I think if we learn how to give ourselves grace and important to ourselves, we're able to deliver that back to the people around us.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 49:26

Oh, so why is Olivia oh my goodness, my need to have a regular session with you. And finally, number five, what is your parting advice for women side hustlers who want to start that crowdfunding campaign but are scared to take the leap?

Olivia Owens 49:43

perfect is the enemy of done at some point, you have to get it out there and then iterate from that point, but you got to get it out there.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 49:51

You got to get it out there you guys. And that's the perfect note to end with. So there you have it, and I will talk to you next week. Hey guys, thanks for listening to side hustle Pro. If you like the show, be sure to subscribe rate and review on Apple podcasts. It helps other side hustlers just like you to find the show. And if you want to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram @sidehustlePro. Plus sign up for my six foot Saturday newsletter at side hustle Pro.co/newsletter. When you sign up, you will receive weekly nuggets from me, including what I'm up to personal lessons and my business tip of the week. Again, that sidehustlepro.co/newsletter to sign up. Talk to you soon

Meet the host:

Nicaila Matthews-Okome

Hi! I’m Nicaila, the Creator and Host of the Side Hustle Pro Podcast. I started Side Hustle Pro when I was a side hustler myself. I was a digital marketer at NPR by day, side hustler by night. Through the powerful stories shared on this show and the courage to launch my own initiatives, I was able to quit my own job and go full time with Side Hustle Pro.

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