For The Better.
Before I attended Draper University, I had a pretty successful career as a commercial and music video director, but I just wasn’t satisfied. I couldn’t figure out how to use the influence that I had, working with major label artists, to help improve people’s lives directly and that was something that I knew that I was extremely passionate about. Now the strange thing is, I always had projects that had motivating messages in them, but I wanted to impact change on a deeper level.
Through a series of extremely unforeseen events, I was sick and hospitalized. Not knowing if I would actually make it out to see another day, I decided to make some life changing decisions. After reflecting heavily, I went into some deep self-talk. I thought to myself, “If I were to die today, would I be happy with what I’ve accomplished?” The answer to that was a no. Although I had been successful in my professional career. There was a huge void in my personal life. I wanted to create an app, that allowed people to improve their personal intimate relationships. A friend recommended that I check out Draper University.
When I got to Draper, I was clueless about starting a business, but I had two things: passion and hustle. I was one of six working female music video directors at the time, so I knew that if I could break down those barriers within the film industry, I would be able to break into entrepreneurship.
When I first conceptualized the company that I wanted to build, it had everything to do with relationship advice. I was struggling in that department and I found that a lot of other people were too. I felt like there were a ton of apps, putting people together, but nothing keeping them together. While I started working on that idea, things took a bit of a turn.
A week before I arrived at DU, a very close friend of mine committed suicide. The devastation behind the event changed the direction of my narrative quite a bit and I started focusing on mental health. When all was said and done, I had a product going in different directions because I didn’t want to give up the relationship component.
I went through the program as a complete beginner in entrepreneurship and learned so much during my journey. Fast forward to the end of the program. With a lot of diligence, I ended up getting an investment from Tim Draper, the founder of Draper University and that sent my head spinning. I think a lot of that had to do with my drive and passion because what you will understand is, in the beginning, an investor is hedging his bet on the entrepreneur, not the product.
There was stuff that I had to learn extremely fast. I had a pretty solid looking prototype that I wheeled out three days before pitch day, (thank goodness for my background as a creative), and I now had an outside investment in my company. I had to learn how to incorporate the company, get a trademark, and market to the customer base, which I knew existed. There was a bulk of influencers trying to address the problems that I was trying to solve on a very fragmented level and they had millions of followers looking for answers.
Tim lent me his lawyer to get all of the legal out the way and then it was time to get to work.
Eventually, I settled on my platform being a preventative measure, a one stop shop where you can go to deal with all areas of personal growth: relationships, fitness, wellness, and finances, kind of like what Tony Robbins does, but for Millennials in a cool unique way.
Sidenote: Tony Robbins is my idol and I had the pleasure of attending one of his seminars thanks to one of Draper’s speakers, Gina Kloes.
I spent the next year working at Draper University as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, which subsequently came with the opportunity to be on a reality show called, “Startup U” on ABC Family. In addition to that, I focused on building and testing my product.
At one point, I had a pretty solid platform called 7AM, which had close to 1,000 users in the first couple of months and was growing and generating revenue daily. After a bit of soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that because of Draper, I now had the foundation for starting a company but, I still wanted a deeper understanding of actually running a company, so I decided to join another media tech company to find out the inner workings.
Well, that decision led to so much more than I could have imagined. I am now the Tech Editor for Black Enterprise. I fly all over the world and I get to share the stories of other executives, founders and investors in my community, which may not otherwise have been told. The ironic part about this is, the relationship with BE was fostered when Tim and I spoke on a panel at their first annual Tech ConneXt conference when I founded 7AM. Who knew I would be working for them two years later?
You never know where opportunities will lead you. It is my understanding that Fall Applications are out now. If you are interested, apply. Don’t have tunnel vision and don’t be afraid to take the leap. You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.
If you have specific questions or want to chat more about my life’s journey, feel free to tweet me: @Sequoiab
Always willing to share the knowledge.