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How TiE Atlanta’s ACCESS Program Bridges Mentorship and Funding Gaps for Women-Led Startups

Aug 10, 2022

Four startups were selected by TiE Atlanta Angels’ ACCESS Program to compete this Saturday, August 13, in the ACCESS Investor Showcase at Atlanta Tech Village . These founders have been mentoring for months with business leaders to prepare for the showcase where they will be vying for investments and social grants. Today on the Atlanta Small Business Show, we’re joined by two of the four finalists, Dana Weeks, Co-Founder and CEO of MedTrans Go , and Jenn Graham, CEO of Inclusivv . If you’d like to be involved with ACCESS as a sponsor, mentor or investor, click here to contact the TiE ACCESS team or email angels@tie-atlanta.org . Transcription:  Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: So what we ended up doing versus a global program that’s called TiE Women . We discovered that there were three things folks like Jen and Dana and others needed, which was three Cs. Connections, coaching, and capital. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: When we discovered that, we said, “boy, we ought to do it for not only women-led businesses but minority-led businesses”. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: So we’re now in year three of being able to bridge the gap of funding and mentoring for such businesses. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: Well, by the numbers alone, we’ve been able to invest in six companies in the last two years to the tune of $900,000. We hope to get that to about a million and a half all angel investing. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jim Fitzpatrick: That is fantastic. Congratulations to you. Jenn, tell us about your company and why you decided to apply for the program. Jenn Graham: Yes. Inclusivv is a technology that brings people together for courageous conversations. While we’ve been in business, we’ve been growing year over year. When the opportunity came up for TiE ACCESS, we’re in the middle of our fundraising effort, and it seems like a perfect opportunity to align with the social impact and the community of TiE Atlanta, especially, as one of the largest angel networks in the Southeast. So, it just made sense and I’m always looking for incredible mentors to be part of it. So the coaching aspect has been really profound and exciting. New partnerships and new collaborations have already emerged as a result. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jenn Graham: Jim Fitzpatrick: Jim Fitzpatrick: Jenn Graham: We recently went through name change to Inclusivv. Two Vs to help double down on peace building and give people the skills that they need to engage in really tough conversations. Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. It’s a great name. I mean, I would imagine you’re probably, “can we get this name? Can we get this URL? How difficult is that?” But you nailed it. Jenn Graham: Jim Fitzpatrick: That is fantastic. So Dana, tell us about your company and why you decided to apply for the program. Dana Weeks: We are a marketplace digital solution for healthcare providers and professionals, to ensure that we can solve this problem of cancellations by providing safe and vetted and reliable transportation and interpretation. Which are really the main causes for cancellation. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. So, if I’m a patient and I can’t get there and I’ve got to cancel my appointment, that’s where you come in. Dana Weeks: Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: Because it is really a challenge for healthcare professionals who have busy staff and ultimately on their bottom line, not having people show up. Over 30% of patients don’t show and in any other industry, this would be a total challenge for you. Why wouldn’t you tackle that? Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: Jim Fitzpatrick: So that’s why I get so many reminders. When I set a doctor’s appointment, it’s like, “yes, I’m coming, I’ll be there”. And then 24 hours later, are you still coming on the 3rd? Dana Weeks: Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: But to your question about being involved in TiE Atlanta, I had heard about it through someone who had gone through the program already. She just spoke, not only about the need for capital, which is really important, especially as women founders. Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: But the connections and the network, especially here in Atlanta with TiE Atlanta. Already the people that I’ve met, not only who are our mentors and through the program and Paul, but the other contestants… The contestants. Other people, part of the group. Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: Just totally incredible. Then starting to tap into this global network that TiE has. It’s really going to be, for us, the start of, I think, a real aid to what we’re doing and as we’re growing and as we get bigger. Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. And being a part of this program probably inspires you to want to go out and help others. Right. That are trying to start their companies. Right? Dana Weeks: Well, absolutely. It’s the environment that it creates. I think both of us sort of in our DNA to have done that anyway. Maybe it’s the superpower of being female-led founders. But I certainly think that this is in support of that. Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. That’s fantastic. Paul mentoring is a big part of ACCESS program. Tell us what that’s all about. Why is that important? Paul Lopez: So what we found is that, this is going through the school of hard knocks for new founders, or even if you’ve been a founder before. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: The best way we have found, to able to do that, is attach dedicated mentors. So we think that’s a very, very important part of the program. This year we’re fortunate that last year… First year we did it with one mentor per company. Last year, we did it with two of which at least one was a woman. This year, we’ve been fortunate to get three mentors. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: These other people have gone through it, or they’re able to look at the financials for which we say all founders could stand to have some coaching. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: We’re also very fortunate to have some partners who are—mentors. So we have a company called TowerPoint that helps look at all of the financials and say, “have you considered this?” Some mentors, may be in the legal profession, different areas in which they can help provide some way to basically become more efficient as you’re going down your entrepreneurial journey. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: So we announced this particular set, this cohort, in mid-June. So we’ve said it at least lasts from mid-June to mid-August. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: With roughly, we say about an hour a week. Doesn’t have to all be done exactly that way, but that’s roughly the expectation. Sometimes we find the mentor stay on with these companies or vice versa, et cetera. Last year, we had a company out of North Carolina where the mentor in fact went on to become their chief technology officer on the inside. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: Negotiating the deal, and then they become board members. I mean, all of this comes down… I think TiE is the best networking organization, and at least I think the ladies have said so. Not only within Atlanta, but on a global scale. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: What was unique about this is, when they first paired me up and I looked at their backgrounds, and one was an expert in cryptocurrency and another was in legal or patent law. I thought… Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: I’m a healthcare tech company. I definitely can learn from anybody, but I wondered how this was going to work. Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: Literally from the start, it was magic because they just really… Especially… You go through your pitch, you go through your conversation so many times, you don’t even see someone from the start, someone fresh looking at what it is. Not only do I think they’re phenomenal people. Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: They’re just so smart and they really have great insights that I’ve already benefited, just from that connection with them. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jenn Graham: For me, I mean, my coaches come from different backgrounds from product management, technology development, to financials, in projections, which is definitely one of my needs for mentorship. Then the other one, who’d just came from AI and leveraging, potentially, her company. So we’re exploring all the ways. But one really impactful takeaway that’s already happened is a ROI calculator was created. It was suggested by one of our mentors, and it’s been already effective in our sales conversation. We’ve been able to actually whittle down, what is the value of belonging within an organization. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: That comes over and above the capital we invest. People, I think, underestimate but they discover that this coaching aspect are differentiated. Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. I would imagine that. I mean, as a small business owner myself and one that has started a number of companies, that’s when you need the advice. The cash is great to have that. Okay, we now have that bank full of money that we can go out and do some of the things that we want to do. But if I had the advice early on, from people that had been there and done that, that’s, to me in some cases, worth more than the cash. You know what I mean? Paul Lopez: That’s why I said it’s a three Cs is what we discover. Coaching, connection and… Jim Fitzpatrick: Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: Is the generic one, but if you do slash ACCESS, you can find out about the program. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: Come participate with us. You can invest, if you come in this week, we hope we will hit our target. Thanks to your listeners, et cetera. But just come be part of the community. Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure. Highly recommend it by the way. Anything that TiE does here in Atlanta, it’s a first-class operation all the way through. So before we close out today, Dana and Jenn, talk to me about how this has impacted your entire company. I know you’ve touched on a few things already, but just in your final thoughts. Dana Weeks: You know, I think it’s really elevated all of the members of my team. I mean, I have a phenomenal team, not only on the sea level, but also everybody who participates with MedTrans go. We can feel the growth, we can see where we’re headed and being able to reflect, bring that on a larger scale. Just even thinking about the connections that we’re making, it’s leadership, it’s bringing us into leadership within Atlanta. Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: A lot of people in investment world see folks like TiE Atlanta making investments and they want to join. What we have is a real opportunity to invest at a point where we’re about to really soar. Jim Fitzpatrick: Dana Weeks: The team is excited about it and we’re all partaking in that. So it’s great. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jenn Graham: Jim Fitzpatrick: Jenn Graham: Then knowing that you’ve got credible angels and then whole networks that believes in what you’re doing. Even to make it to the finals, the final four, it’s similar. We were also just part of the SHRM Better Workplaces Challenge Cup, one of the four finalists. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jenn Graham: That same level of energy and credibility goes a long way in motivating the team. Especially when the day to day grind can be tough. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jenn Graham: Jim Fitzpatrick: Jenn Graham: And you’re moving forward, there can be days where it feels like it’s an uphill battle. Jim Fitzpatrick: Jenn Graham: But knowing that we have a plan, we have a strategy, it’s been vet and we have investment… Jim Fitzpatrick: It validates it too. It validates your whole idea to go, “okay, we are onto something. I knew this would work”. Others go, “you’ve got something”. Paul Lopez: You want to watch these ladies pitch, as well as the two other companies. Come join us on Saturday afternoon. Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: Jim Fitzpatrick: That would really be great. As I said, you guys are a first class operation. You’ve helped so many. I mean, there’s been so many launches here in Atlanta and you guys have been behind them. I would just think the other thing Paul about this entire concept is that it raises the awareness of these companies, so that there’s other investors out there that say, “oh, they made it to the final four. What are those companies all about? I’m ready. I got my checkbook.” They might not even be in the audience or they might not be involved in the program. Paul Lopez: Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: Jim Fitzpatrick: Paul Lopez: Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s great. Either way. We’ll show all the information on the screen here. So folks, thank you so much for joining me on the show. I very much appreciate. I know that our viewers and subscribers will get a lot out of this. There’s such inspirational stories. A the same time, I would also tell everybody that’s listening, go on and check these companies out and on their websites, and learn more about them because this is exactly what we want to showcase here at the Atlanta Small Business Show. This is what we’re all about. So congratulations and hope to see you on Saturday. It’d be great. Paul Lopez:

TiE Atlanta Partners & Customers

1 Partners and customers

TiE Atlanta has 1 strategic partners and customers. TiE Atlanta recently partnered with Travelport on July 7, 2013.

Date

Type

Business Partner

Country

News Snippet

Sources

7/26/2013

Partner

United Kingdom

Travelport unveils new Partnership with TiE Atlanta Chapter.

According to Vik Vijayvergiya , senior director , Global Distribution Sales and Service , Travelport , `` Our new partnership with the TiE Atlanta chapter is aligned with Travelport 's technology approach which centers on an open platform , in order to allow flexible access to content and services .

1

Date

7/26/2013

Type

Partner

Business Partner

Country

United Kingdom

News Snippet

Travelport unveils new Partnership with TiE Atlanta Chapter.

According to Vik Vijayvergiya , senior director , Global Distribution Sales and Service , Travelport , `` Our new partnership with the TiE Atlanta chapter is aligned with Travelport 's technology approach which centers on an open platform , in order to allow flexible access to content and services .

Sources

1

TiE Atlanta Team

1 Team Member

TiE Atlanta has 1 team member, including current Founder, Palaniswamy Rajan.

Name

Work History

Title

Status

Palaniswamy Rajan

Sarvint Technologies, Avatar Capital Partners, VerticalOne, Emerald, and Vigilar

Founder

Current

Name

Palaniswamy Rajan

Work History

Sarvint Technologies, Avatar Capital Partners, VerticalOne, Emerald, and Vigilar

Title

Founder

Status

Current

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