MIXTROZ: The Tale of Two “Unhidden Figures”
Dressed impeccably, Ashlee Ammons made her way through a bustling Lincoln Center where she attended a conference hosted by Cosmopolitan Magazine. For weeks she dreamed of meeting beauty industry insiders and building upon her network. As she was given directions on how to connect with fellow attendees during the designated networking time, she realized the recommended “find matching dots via your nametag” system was completely inefficient, antiquated and awkward. Not one to force new friendships, Ashlee lost motivation to connect and decided to dip out onto the safer streets of Manhattan for a quick bite before heading back to the next segment of the conference.
Fast forward to today, Ashlee and her mother, Kerry Schrader, a former HR Exec, decided to disrupt the world of networking by creating real connections through the creation of MIXTROZ. MIXTROZ is a tool that drives event attendees from phone to face-to-face in real time — increasing engagement and collecting data. Think, LinkedIn but Live! They have received rave reviews and have actually had attendees “kicked out” because the opportunity for connection, conversation, and collision explodes with Mixtroz!
When Ashlee and her mother Kerry first decided to change the way people connect with MIXTROZ, they never expected to disrupt the world of tech by being two female African-American founders. As they surveyed the landscape of other founders and funders in both Nashville, TN and Birmingham, AL, Ashlee and her mother realized the power and responsibility that would come with potential success. “If we are able to create a pathway to success, we then will be able to make this journey easier for people like us in the future.” There was no turning back.
As Kerry and Ashlee began fundraising for their company, they headed to the Collision Conference in New Orleans. The two ambitious founders paid a neighbor to make custom $12.00 t-shirts that read, “Black Female Founder FUND ME” on the front and “Got Seed?” (as in funding) on the back. Needless to say, they garnered a lot of attention and over exceeded their return on a $12.00 investment by solidifying their first feature in FORBES Magazine. In addition to receiving an invitation to pitch at Creative Startups in Albuquerque, NM which they won and then being sent to Copenhagen, Denmark to represent the US (where they also won their category) and attracting and landing a spot in Birmingham’s prestigious Velocity Accelerator.
Ashlee and Kerry have said “YES!” to the right opportunities and have been able to maximize every resource presented to them. This was especially true when they discovered the resources of the EnrichHER platform. They have stayed informed on all the current funds and accelerator programs available which can make or break a new founder in the marketplace depending on existing resources. We can’t wait to watch MIXTROZ next chapter and hear about the positive disruption Ashlee and her mother Kerry create in the world of building their company as well as meaningful relationships through real connection.
1. The journey is hard and uncomfortable, but it will subside. “I was miserable for the first 6 months when I moved home to work on Mixtroz full-time after a successful career in NYC. Sometimes, startup life is like an erratic relationship that has had extreme highs and lows. It’s as if MIXTROZ treats me badly and then buys me flowers. We’re working on it,” states Ashlee.
2. Use what you have today to build what you want tomorrow. We knew nothing about tech when we started but we knew a lot about people coming from hospitality and HR backgrounds. We used this to our advantage and built out tech FOR people and we believe this approach has made Mixtroz successful to this point. If we focused on the tech and what we didn’t have, we’d have never got started.
Katie Shannon is a team member of EnrichHER, a platform that helps women get debt funding to grow incredible ventures through ecosystem building (EnrichHER Spark) and capital (EnrichHER Funding). EnrichHER enables accredited and non-accredited investors to lend to women-led businesses
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