Every entrepreneur is familiar with the struggle of getting started. A new idea takes hold of you and you start making big plans and getting goals, only to find that many doors are closed to you or you lack vital resources. This is what Hello Alice is working to change. Co-founded in 2017 by Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz, Hello Alice is a free multi-channel platform powered by machine learning, to guide business owners by providing access to funding, networks, and services.
Embracing failure on the path to entrepreneurship
CEO and co-founder, Carolyn Rodz, knows first hand what it’s like to struggle with a first-time venture. After a long career in investment banking, she make the decision to transition into entrepreneurship. She describes it as a “long, hard, expensive” transition.
“Hello Alice is what I wish I had when I started by first business 15 years ago,” says Carolyn.
Her first venture was a failed company, and she learned a lot from it. She embraces the failure because it taught her how to do better the next time. It also drove her passion for helping small businesses grow and achieve success.
“I’ve made so many mistakes,” she says. “In hindsight, I wish I would have been more transparent about being small, and asking for help. With my first business I always tried to act like a much bigger company than I was, and I’m convinced people could see right through me. If I had just sold the upside of working with a small, nimble company, I probably would have gotten so much further, and received much more support along the way.”
Carolyn’s second business venture was a success which she eventually sold. It was after this second venture that she felt doors finally started to open for her.
“With Hello Alice, our goal is to open those doors on Day 1 to put all entrepreneurs on an equal footing, giving them the knowledge, opportunities, and connections they need to thrive,” says Carolyn.
Hello Alice offers a unique experience by striping down barriers to access, but also keep the personalized experience that happens in closed, offline networks. The platform is a game changer for all entrepreneurs but especially those just getting started.
How Hello Alice is opening doors for all entrepreneurs
Hello Alice believes in business for all — by providing access to all owners, especially women, people of color, military-connected, the LGBTQ+ community, and persons with disabilities. Hello Alice exists to serve every American with an entrepreneurial spirit.
“Our goal has always been to give every entrepreneur access to the resources they need to forge their own path, regardless of who they know or where they come from,” says Carolyn. “I think the fact that it’s so personal to me, and to all on our team for a variety of reasons, helps us keep the small business owners we serve front and center. It also keeps our team aligned and helps us act quickly — if we’re helping owners, we know we’re on the right path.”
Through a network of more than 200,000 owners in all 50 states and across the globe, Hello Alice is building the largest community of business owners in the country while tracking data and trends to increase owner success rate. Hello Alice has partnered with enterprise business services, government agencies, and institutions looking to serve small and medium business owners to ensure increased revenues and to provide the best possible experience for owners who want to start or grow their companies.
Hello Alice’s machine learning provides crucial data to help each business with it’s individual needs. The platform provides a pathway for all entrepreneurs — prioritizing the needs of women, minorities, veterans, and other underrepresented business owners — to help them find knowledge, funding, networks, and services that will push their business to the next level.
“We do this by learning both who the business owner is, and the type of company they lead. These data points personalize the owner experience, but those aggregate trends also guide the broader small business ecosystem to funnel resources where they’re most needed,” explains Carolyn. “Companies utilize this aggregate data set to guide their sales, marketing and diversity goals, and to discover new, and better, ways to engage their target prospects, with the goal of creating lifelong loyal customers.”
Hello Alice is changing the game for entrepreneurs across the globe. Never before has it been so easy to access resources, funding, and networks.
The mission behind Hello Alice has always been on helping small businesses grow. Funding is no doubt of one of the most crucial and often needed aspects of launching a business. Recently, Hello Alice awarded 152 small businesses with life emergency grants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My most treasured experience so far has been notifying each grant recipient via a surprise Zoom call from the Hello Alice team. Some of these videos really got emotional!” says Carolyn. “We are most proud to say that 96% of recipients identify as part of the New Majority of small business owners. We went through 6 rounds of grants with 152 owners receiving funds. This pushes me to work even harder because I know the immense impact we are having on small businesses. You can read about each grant recipient here.”
Hello Alice is all about helping fellow entrepreneurs get started on their path so we at Latinas In Business asked Carolyn for some words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.
Her first word of advice is, “Mission matters.” Having a solid and clear mission is key. “Hello Alice is the most mission-driven business I’ve ever led, and it’s the one company where there’s never been any confusion over why we do what we do. Our team has always been in lockstep when it comes to meeting our owners’ needs, and it builds an internal alignment that allows us to move quickly and make fast decisions. It also taught me the value of going big. We were going to grow fast or fail fast, but either way, I knew that with this company I was going to put it all on the table. Luckily, we grew fast, but the experience taught me that you can’t hesitate as an entrepreneur. We prioritize action because the small business owners we support need what we are building, and it taught me that no matter what business you’re in, there is no replacement for learning through implementation.”
Second, “Follow your instincts. People will give you their opinions at every turn — some are worth listening to, and some are worth ignoring. The value you add as a leader is figuring out which are which. At the end of the day, you have to feel comfortable with the decisions you made for your business, and if you did what you thought was best at every turn, working in the input and feedback and all of the opinions of the smartest and most equipped people you can find, then at least you know you tried your best.”
Finally, Carolyn shares one of her favorite quotes to live by: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” –Mae West
“I look at life as a journey to be lived fully. It takes the fear of failure away, and life becomes more about taking risks, trying new things, meeting interesting people, and the experiences that we create for ourselves and those around us. It pushes me to go bigger in everything I do, and to live in the moment. We’re a tiny spec in the game of life, but we each have the potential to do something meaningful.”