What did you eat for breakfast?
Cup of coffee with raw sugar and creme
What’s your workout?
My coffee cup is really heavy and I do curls with it. : )
Actually, I try to workout on the treadmill at least 3x per week for 15-45 minutes depending on what else is going on. I am a little ADD so sometimes I get distracted.
Photo of me walking on a Californian beach at sunset.
Tell us about your work. What inspired you to start your business?
When my two adopted sons came to America, they had difficulty learning to read. I tried everything on the market to help them but nothing worked. Faced with this challenge, I was able to pull from my career experience working as an intern teacher and being CEO of a company that provided educational products. I was determined to find a solution to not only help my sons but also young children everywhere.
With access to the right people and technology resources, I decided to take a risk and began development on a solution that would help kids learn to read in a new and engaging way. Having been introduced to Augmented Reality (3D without the glasses), I knew this was exactly the secret sauce we needed to capture young imaginations.
Soon after, Letters alive was born along with a zoo full of 26 animal characters that are now a part of our family. A new company, Alive Studios, was launched and hundreds of incredible success stories began pouring in from teachers using Letters alive, who we affectionately call our Zoo Keepers.
Where did you start and where are you now?
Started in my basement in my Atlanta suburban home. I’m still in my basement and it is our three year anniversary!
What do you see for your future?
How large is your business? How many employees do you have?
We have a team of eight people – our Zoo Crew!
Tell us a success story about funding your business.
My husband and I liquidated all of our 401K’s and IRA’s to go “all-in” with our startup. This, along with three angel investors helped launch Alive Studios.
What do you see as challenges for you and your business? What are some opportunities?
Two of our challenges are: 1. Making teachers and school districts aware of how effective our solution can be for early education, 2. Meeting teachers who fall in love with our product but do not have the funding to purchase it.
Two of our opportunities are: 1. Working directly with Hewlett Packard who helped us market our product specifically for their newest workstation, the Sprout Pro. We are working with resellers and HP sales reps around the world to promote our solution into media centers, libraries, and schools. 2. Working with two of the top US education resellers and their sales teams to introduce our products into schools around the country.
Tell us a story about a success in your business or a mistake you overcame?
We are very excited that our persistence over two years paid off when establishing relationships with these top education partners. Being able to prove and deliver on the fact that we offer a win-win solution took time, determination, and a lot of grit and hard work.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
Setting a vision and then building a team who can help that vision become a reality. I love the journey, the challenges, and the wins.
What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?
I love the fact that we can absolutely change a child’s life… not only in his/her immediate future, but really for a lifetime. We also make every effort to create positive experiences at every touch-point with customers and partners. We try to infuse this “exceptional attitude” throughout our company culture and within all our relationships.
What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”
Persistence and tenacity wrapped in a sense of humor.
Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now? Why does s/he inspire you?
Verne Harnish – I love his authenticity and his sincere desire to pour into entrepreneurs with valuable skills they can use to grow their businesses.
What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?
One of the best things is being able to break down stereotypes about men and women as leaders of companies. It’s fun. If there is such thing as a “worse thing,” I am too driven to even become aware of it.
Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs, and if so, how? If not, why not?
Yes. I truly believe women have a 6th sense, or intuition, when it comes to people/relationships and developing culture.
What’s the best advice you ever got, and from whom?
This might sound simple, but it rings true for me every day… My dad would say to me, “Anything worthwhile, is hard work.”
Checkout this video for an introduction to Letters Alive.