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Getting Capital to Women On Their Own Terms with Arielle Loren Palmer of 100k Incubator

“What does it look like to build an organization that has a more matriarchal structure? What does it look like for us to have more transparent conversations with each other about building a company, working together, salaries, compensation, all of these things?”

Arielle Loren Palmer, founder of 100k Incubator

In this episode

Join Arielle Loren Palmer, Founder of SheEO Venture 100k Incubator, and SheEO founder Vicki Saunders, as they chat about approaches to getting capital to women on their own terms. 100K Incubator is a mobile app for early stage women entrepreneurs to get funding for their companies, live coaching, and results driven classes to help them scale their businesses to at least 100K in yearly sales.

They also discuss:

  • Using design and technology as a solution to overcome barriers
  • The ongoing process to develop the best fintech solution for women entrepreneurs to showcase their work
  • Stories of women who are deeply passionate about the work they’re doing, and why they need the support to bring their ideas to life
  • How 100k Incubator is partnering with corporations who are interested in social impact
  • The importance of cross-collaboration between entrepreneurs
  • Building social impact into her own business, as a model for inclusivity and values-driven work

We invite you to join us as an Activator at SheEO.World.

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Podcast Transcript:

The podcast is being transcribed by Otter.ai. (there may be errors, run-on sentences and misspellings).

Arielle Loren 0:00
One of the things that I’ve been really tapping into is, what does it look like to build an organization that has a more matriarchal structure? What does it look like for us to have more transparent conversations with each other about building a company, working together, salaries, compensation, all of these things that I feel commerce and business has become corrupted, as a result of greed and just, capitalism that’s gotten way out of control.

Hannah Cree 0:25
Welcome to the SheEO.World podcast, where you will meet women who are transforming the world to be more equitable and sustainable. Your host for today’s podcast is the founder of SheEO, Vicki Saunders. Welcome to SheEO.World.

Vicki Saunders 0:43
Arielle Welcome. So happy to have you here today.

Arielle Loren 0:47
Thank you so much Vicki for having me. I’m excited just to be here.

Vicki Saunders 0:51
Great. So tell us who are you and what are you working on in the world?

Arielle Loren 0:55
Yes, so I’m the founder of 100k Incubator, which is the first business funding mobile app created for women. We specifically specialize in helping women who are pre revenue or earning under $100,000 annually in their business, get access to capital and scale to a minimum of $100,000 in annual sales.

Vicki Saunders 1:14
Awesome. And how, why did you come up with this idea?

Arielle Loren 1:18
Oh, well, there are a lot of alternative funding institutions and platforms that are being birthed. However, the unfortunate thing that I would say is that the vast majority of them focus on entrepreneurs who are already earning over $100,000 annually in their businesses. And so this is problematic, right? Because women who look like me, specifically, black women, are only earning around $20,000, on average per year in their businesses. So all of this like innovation in the funding space, challenging the way that banks approve entrepreneurs for capital isn’t reaching black women, or even women of color as a whole, who are also earning close to about $64,000 per year on average in their businesses. So we said, okay, we’re going to design a mobile application that not only simplifies the funding process, but also allows all women, even those who are pre revenue, earning under 100k, and even those as well, who might even be above 100k, at this stage in their business, making sure that they can access capital. And so kind of having that very inclusive, kind of thoughtful lens in terms of how we get women approved for capital. That’s really the inspiration behind why we do what we do and why we’re creating technology to be able to get the capital that’s needed to the women who need the most.

Vicki Saunders 2:35
well, I’m so grateful that you’re doing this, because it’s I mean, first of all, black women entrepreneurs are the fastest growing segment in the US, right?

Arielle Loren 2:42

Vicki Saunders 2:42
So and is 100k, sort of the magic number, where people can quit their job and do this full time? Or like, Why, why 100k?

Arielle Loren 2:51
Yeah, I don’t know if it’s a magic number, necessarily, but what I would say is that what you learn in the first 100k of your business usually is going to give you some sort of roadmap in terms of how you’re going to move forward, what actually makes money, you know, what actually creates impact, like, what whatever happens in that first 100k, in our experience in working with women entrepreneurs, both myself as a consultant, you know, for over 10 years, and then also even just my team like that 100k number seems to be the magic spot for proof of concept. And so that’s why we focus there, and then just really wanting to make sure that women are supported, even in that journey to 100k, right. And so we don’t want to just leave them out there kind of try to figure it out. And, you know, go into, you know, all sorts of, you know, just like personal sacrifices that they might have to make for their businesses, every entrepreneur has to make sacrifices, but if we could really give them the runway to not only have to put up their personal credit and all the other, you know, personal capital things that they might do, but also receive institutional support, supports from funds, and other and other institutions, then that to me is like the the best combination of making sure that women have the support that they need to be able to hit that 100k mark and continue growing their businesses.

Vicki Saunders 4:01
We’re very passionate about the same things this is—I’m like absolutely obsessed with getting capital to women on their own terms. And I think a lot of the systems and structures that we have in place, are really problematic, right? They’re designed for other people, in another time, another world even and it just, it feels like such a moment to bring a new design lens to this. So can you talk a little bit about how you’re tackling, what you see as some of the barriers and how you’re tackling that with your design in order to like have a breakthrough solution here.

Arielle Loren 4:30
Yes, so one of the things that we noticed when—with any kind of funding application, usually regardless whether it’s alone, or even going through the process of getting approved for an equity, you know, style investment, even for grants, you know, it’s just the application processes are just so like layered, it’s a lot of paperwork, it’s a lot of data that has to be pulled, and frankly, it’s really overwhelming for a lot of women right to have to put together your P&L, you know sheets and your balance sheets and you know tracking all Have your information, your taxes, like all of these things, right? So for us, we’re like, hey, there’s definitely a way to use technology to simplify this process. And to have one kind of centralized database, where we can do the work as a company to go out and partner with these funds and partner with these banks and these institutions, and have them come in use our technology to see what’s actually going on women’s businesses. In addition to that, I would say that our goal is to be able to provide industry insights into, you know, what’s actually happening in certain sectors, right to kind of de risk, I think, and provide some additional research for industries that are under invested in, right. And so I feel like there are very traditional industries like construction, and you know, all sorts of other things, right, that banks are happy to jump on, you know, real estate, things like that, right. But I think it’s also because of lack of knowledge in terms of like, how are these other industries actually performing. And frankly, a lot of these other industries are where women entrepreneurs are actually interested. So to us technology is the solution to start to bridge that gap. And we also recognize that this is going to be an ever evolving process, right, we’re not going to come out with an app and like, hit it on the nail, this is something that through working with our partners, and also working with the women will continue to develop the best FinTech solution, you know, for women entrepreneurs to be able to show like, Hey, I can actually handle this capital, you know, this is what’s going on in my business, this was going on in my industry, this is why I’m primed for growth. And then for banks and financial institutions, you know, foundations, etc, to be able to see like, hey, the data is there, like, let’s get behind these women and actually support.

Vicki Saunders 6:33
So do you have a couple of favorite stories that you can share with us that are why you get out of bed every day?

Arielle Loren 6:39
Oh, my goodness, I would actually say yesterday. So we’re really proud. We’re partnering with Target accelerators. And we have 100 black women, who they sponsored, basically, for us to support over the next six months in terms of helping them get capital, increase their ecommerce sales, and also get onto mass retail shelves. And so for me just showing up and literally seeing 100 black women like looking at me on Zoom like excited, pumped, like, not only pumped about the program, and the fact that they now have the attention of Target, you know, but also like pumped to be in the room with each other, right. And so, for me like that, even in of itself, like just starting, like just made my entire week, it completely reset my energy. And so that was like a really powerful example of why we do the work that we do, why we continue to, you know, knock on these corporations doors and say, Hey, like, we have to partner, we have to fix this, we have to do better. And so really proud of that. And then I have definitely tons of other kind of individuals stories. One of my favorites is Sarah Green and Angela Green, a mom and daughter duo, who Angela Green in particular, back, I want to say almost like 27 years ago, in the early 90s, I created a tool that would help women, black women mostly take out their braids, right. And so she created this prototype, just because she frankly was just tired of going through a struggle to get her own daughters’, you know, braids, but she was a school teacher and didn’t have the capital to be able to bring this to life. And so she just shelved the idea, even though she had the prototype made and just was like, okay, like, I guess I can’t be an entrepreneur because I have mom responsibilities and, you know, full time job, and you know, all of those things. And so here 27 years later, her incredible badass daughter comes and decides that she’s going to go and you know, get her MBA and work on her doctorate and all of these things. And as her project, her thesis project, she’s going to pick back up this tool that her mom created, you know, almost 30 years ago, and she’s gonna bring it to market. And so literally working with her, you know, one on one and giving her support as well, you know, through the mobile app, and then helping her launch two crowdfunding campaigns, one that happened to launch literally right before the pandemic, and then as a result of all the media, we couldn’t push it. So we said, okay, it’s all good, we’re gonna regroup, we’re gonna come back, you know, and then she, she rebounded, you know, and ended up I want to say raising about $13,000 in pre sales, you know, she got another $10,000 you know, from the pitch competition that we support her and helping her win, she got another $10,000 from a private angel investor. And so just seeing you know, her be able to take her mother’s dream, you know, and then make it her dream. And us being able to support multiple generations and actually being able to bring you know, something to market get access to capital show proof of concept. Like that is the type of stuff that I live for. So really excited just to see more stories like that. Women who are really deeply passionate about the businesses, you know, that they’re creating and have these amazing legacy stories, amazing background stories, of why they’re doing, what they’re doing, and also why they need the support from funders and institutions to be able to bring their ideas to life.

Vicki Saunders 10:06
That’s awesome. And I can feel you when those 100 black women in front of you like, Oh, that’s like, this is why I’m here. Okay, can you walk us through? So like, how you have corporations like, let walk us through that Target thing? Like, how did that? How does that happen? How do you engage with your customers clients with Target, for example, like with the 100, that they’re supporting? Like, what’s the business model around that just to give people like, help them, imagine what goes on so that they can think about how to help you?

Arielle Loren 10:35
Absolutely. So literally, we started talking to Target, I want to say in October of 2019, we met them at a conference that I was speaking at, they really liked the work that we were doing, and they said, Hey, you know, we want to support. And so let’s talk about how we can, you know, partner on some programming together, it took us about a year to negotiate the deal, you know, essentially, and to get to kind of get it really in the right department, because a lot of these corporations have so many different budgets, so many different departments. So it’s often about getting to the right person. And so we had one, an internal advocate, who was determined to get us to the right person, and two, you know, once we got to that right person, and really just facilitated, you know, creating a program that spoke to their social impact values, right. And so, as a result of last summer, Target placed an even heavier emphasis than what they had before, you know, on you supporting black entrepreneurs, and specifically, they were very interested in supporting black women entrepreneurs, what they loved about what we did compared to a lot of other programs is that we focus so heavily on funding, you know, and we do have the partnerships in place to make sure that women can get access to capital. And so that for them was a huge thing that set us apart, and is why they said, Okay, we’re going to back this program, we’re going to sponsor the education piece, so that you all have the operational support to be freed up to help these women go and get the capital that they need, and continue to scale their businesses. And so kind of moving into this next chapter, we’re looking to build more relationships like that, we want to work with more corporations who are interested in social impact, who are interested in black women, entrepreneurs, women, entrepreneurs, in general, you know, etc. Because we really believe that we have a model and case studies that are actually proven that are that what we do works, right. And so focusing on these women who are in this early stage, we know what it is, and have the proof that when we give a woman $10,000 in capital, $15,000, in capital $25,000, in capital, that she has the ability to triple that, and sometimes quadruple that, you know, in terms of sales. And so with those case studies, with our support, you know, we want to basically have access to more partnerships to be able to make more success stories. And that for us is something that’s been a an extreme focus, I would say, kind of moving forward into this next chapter of the company.

Vicki Saunders 12:45
That’s awesome. Is there a community element between the entrepreneurs?

Arielle Loren 12:51
Yeah, so, also part of the reason why we wanted a mobile app, yes, there’s the technology specifically to help them you know, get access to funding, you know, that we’re working on kind of rebuilding and building out, you know, over the course of 2021, however, it’s also about women connecting with each other. And so one of the things that was super powerful, even just with the, you know, live kind of welcome Zoom that we did was it even though I was talking on camera, and bringing women on camera to introduce themselves, they were all in the chat, talking to each other, and super excited. And so the mobile app is also created to facilitate that, you know, women can private message each other be in private groups, you know, kind of leave comments under each other. Because really, I feel like that that kind of cross collaboration is just as important as that kind of top down, you know, collaboration. So yes, I really believe that. Frankly, some of my best resources have come from my peers, and yes, mentors to have been amazing. But definitely, sometimes reaching across will help you get to your goal faster, if you know what to ask for and how to collaborate.

Vicki Saunders 13:55
Yeah, I think that is just so true. For me, it’s just like, put a bunch of entrepreneurs together and get out of the way, right. And so the opportunity for them to find each other to resource each other, because they have similar challenges, right? And so people that are just ahead of them. That’s great. So where do you want this to go? What is what’s your vision for 100k Incubator?

Arielle Loren 14:16
You know, I would love to look back in like 10 years from now and be able to say that we helped women access over a billion dollars in capital. That would be a huge accomplishment for me, and specifically women who are earning under $100,000 per year in their businesses. So again, speaking to those demographics, who are underserved. The women who look like me, the women who often don’t get the capital support, who can’t do the friends and family round, you know, all of those things that we see kind of other groups have access to and the reason why they’ve been able to scale their businesses and increase their revenue as a result of that extra support. So if we can get a billion dollars to underrepresented women founders, you know, through our mobile application over the next 10 years, that for me is a huge win. And then equally as important is actually seeing those women take that capital and scale it, you know, so if it’s like, alright, we help women get access to a billion dollars, what does it look like for us to create billions of dollars in revenue and just countless jobs and really shift families and communities. So that, for me is kind of big kind of vision. And also, I’d say, even on a more personal level, one of the things that I’ve been really tapping into, you know, even specifically, just coming back from retreat with my team, is, what does it look like to build an organization as well, that has a more matriarchal kind of structure? What does it look like for us to have more transparent conversations with each other about building a company, you know, kind of working together, salaries, compensation, like all of these things that I feel kind of commerce and in business has become corrupted as a result of, you know, just I feel like a lot of greed and just kind of capitalism that’s gotten way out of control. And so for us, you know, it’s like, okay, it’s not only important that we create social impact and other people’s business, but other people’s businesses, but it’s also important that we create social impact in our own businesses, and that we create equity in our own business. And then we create, you know, just a different type of kind of working relationship amongst all of the women and men, you know, who are part of this company. So that’s something else that I’m super excited about. And I really hope to be able to show what we do internally, even as a model, you know, for other organizations to look at and say, Hey, they’re doing great work, both internally and externally. And this is a model that we can go after, and maybe tweak and make it into our own, but definitely, so that everyone feels, you know, included and valued, you know, who’s at the table and doing the work.

Vicki Saunders 16:49
Amazing. So the multiplier effect of what you’re doing is so significant too right, just when you have those success stories, they bring other success stories, they share that. Yeah, that’s absolutely beautiful. Last thing, do you have an ask for the community? Is there anything that we can help you with?

Arielle Loren 17:09
Right now, for us, it’s really just about building relationships with more corporate sponsors. So we want more Targets, we want, you know, more financial institutions, we want, you know, more, you know, major kind of corporations who are interested in doing social impact work interesting in sponsoring programming, and want to also do more than just a one time campaign, we want the, we want to be kind of built into kind of whatever budget they’ve put aside, essentially, to create kind of long term impact, and to right some of the wrongs that have happened all over the world, frankly. Um, so for us, like, that’s a huge ask for us. So any inroads, that you all might have, you know, in terms of getting us in the room to just be able to share what we do and why we do it. That’s kind of a huge focus for us, you know, right now, I would also say that one of the things in addition to just sponsored programming that we’re looking at is starting an internal fund. And so for us, we also think it’s important for us to be able to control the capital, not just partner with people who have capital. And so we can control capital, you know, do a raise, you know, bring in LPs, and you know, all sorts of folks again, who shared this vision of supporting underrepresented women founders who are earning under 100k, that’s also something that we’re very interested in and going to be working on over the next 18 months. So those would be our two asks: corporate sponsors, and anyone who would be interested in being part of a fund to be able to fund women entrepreneurs earning under 100k, who are underrepresented.

Vicki Saunders 18:38
Amazing, thank you so much for all that you’re doing. We’re really, really excited to be supporting you. And we’re cheering you on every day.

Arielle Loren 18:47
Thank you so much, Vicki, I definitely appreciate your support, even personally, but also just your entire team and the entire Activator community. It’s been incredible. Honestly, one of the major inspirations even for me to up my ante in terms of the way that I engage internally within my organization. And also just believing that this business model is is possible. You all are an example of that. And so you inspire us and we’re so grateful for your support and everything that you do just to help women all over the world. So thank you so much for being you and doing what you do.

Vicki Saunders 19:19
Awesome. Thanks so much.

Hannah Cree 19:24
Thank you for listening to the SheEO.World podcast. Like, comment, subscribe and share this podcast with your friends. We invite you to join a global community of radically generous women at SheEO.World.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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