Online Platform with Sonoma County Login Hello Alice Helps Business Owners Get Started Successfully
Overworked small business owners often say they work 25 hours a day, eight days a week.
Many can often feel lost in the maze of business loans, accessing venture capital, and finding the best resources to grow a small business.
That’s what inspired co-founders Carolyn Rodz, based in Houston, and Elizabeth Gore, operating in Sonoma County, to launch their online platform. Hello Alice in 2017.
The co-founders met when Gore was working for Dell as an entrepreneur-in-residence in 2015 and was looking for ways the company could help move small businesses forward.
Rodz had just sold his second business and was working on the early stages of Hello Alice, where small business owners could get a better idea of the resources available to them – such as funding, networks and grant opportunities – and how to access them. at what they do.
“I kept thinking how great it would have been on day one of my company to realize that these resources, networks and conferences existed,” Rodz said.
“I was shocked at how difficult it was to start a business (in America), especially for women,” Gore said. “The idea (of Hello Alice) was to use machine learning that a small business owner, depending on their stage of growth and physical location in our industry) could use.”
The Houston-based company is hyper-focused on the financial health and well-being of small businesses, measuring its success when entrepreneurs have fair access to capital
Hello Alice has relied heavily on the data and demographics of its business owners to help break down barriers that prevent BIPOC and LGBTQ+ businesses from succeeding.
“Accessing capital and financial health is, by far, the hardest thing for any business owner,” Gore said.
There are over one million small business owners using Hello Alice with 7,332 small business owners in Sonoma County. According to data from Hello Alice, 69% of these business owners are women and 76% identify with the BIPOC community.
Emma Mann of Three Sisters Apothecary turned to Hello Alice when she wanted to grow her business.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and the majority of sales came from online orders, Three Sisters was able to get a $10,000 grant to buy more heating tanks for their soaps.
“I’m easily able to quadruple our production,” Mann said.
Rodz and Gore believe there is no single guide to helping businesses succeed and providing funding opportunities and assistance through business loans and industry-specific grant opportunities.
According to a Hello Alice press release, there is a $40 billion gap in access to capital for BIPOC entrepreneurs, small business owners and over $1 trillion in on-demand financing sought but not received by the small business community as a whole.
Business owners told Hello Alice they want coaching, mentoring and advice related to getting a business credit card.
Hello Alice recently launched a credit card in partnership with MasterCard to help business owners receive operational credit to grow their business while enjoying benefits, education and cash back opportunities unique to their specific sector.
“Access to capital has been the #1 issue for small business owners, and when we started to dig deeper into the data, especially on women and minority-owned businesses, there was a huge gap. in terms of knowledge about access,” Rodz said.
“If you live in the United States and you have no credit history or bad credit, you either cannot get credit, or you get credit at 50% plus interest, or you put in place a guarantee,” Gore said.
Rodz said the card is an introductory tool that introduces small business owners to the “capital continuum” in small pieces while receiving financial mentorship and improving the business owner’s credit.
“It’s not just access to credit, it’s, for me, a sense of community,” Rodz said. “We bring these business owners together and they learn from each other.
“We provide them with best-in-class support, mentorship and advice and leverage that volume to ensure we provide them with the best opportunities and access.”
Sara Edwards is the business reporter for The Press Democrat. You can reach her at 707-521-5487 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sedwards380.