Who could make a great Visible Hands fellow?
A few months back, we created personas for our team to use internally — three distinct archetypes of founders, based on conversations that we had with both active and aspiring entrepreneurs. These personas were not created to act as an assessment tool, but rather as a way for our team to document our perspective around the question: Who could make a great Visible Hands fellow?
At Visible Hands, we believe that great entrepreneurs are all around us — we just must choose to see them. No one needs to look a certain way, have a certain background, or follow a certain career path to build a successful technology startup.
Our personas demonstrate this belief that we must look beyond conventional indicators to find the best talent. Amazing founders can be Stanford grads or Facebook engineers, and they can be Etsy store owners, content creators, or non-profit leaders, too.
Read on to learn more about our personas, or take our quiz to find out which type of founder you are.
Hustlers are proven builders with a ton of drive and ambition. They know that building a startup isn’t easy, but they are excited by the challenge. Whether they own a small business, previously founded a company or nonprofit, been an early employee at a startup, or just love building things from scratch, Hustlers have demonstrated that they have the entrepreneurial grit needed to start the next big thing.
Hustlers We’re Inspired By
Sevetri Wilson: In 2009, Sevetri Wilson started her own strategic communications and management firm called Solid Ground Innovations (SGI) to serve nonprofit organizations. After much success, Sevetri Wilson eventually transformed SGI’s nonprofit service into a technology platform, birthing Resilia. This tech platform for nonprofits was named to Venture Beat’s Top Startups to Watch Out For in 2019 and as of 2020 has raised over $11m in funding.
Amari Ruff: In 2010, Amari Ruff launched a mid-sized freight services company. He grew that business close to 200 trucks but quickly found a larger problem to tackle — one that he could solve with technology. He went on to found SUDU, a technology-based logistics company that uses data and analytics to help companies ship their freight efficiently (think: Uber for truckers). SUDU is now a multi-million dollar company that has raised over $3m in venture capital.
Community Builders are natural leaders and connectors. They rally people around their passions, expertise, or advocacy — and people want to hear what they have to say. As the name suggests, Community Builders are deeply engaged in their communities, which means that they have unique insights into a specific audience and the problems that they face. By identifying and solving these problems, founders can translate this community into a customer base.
Community Builders We’re Inspired By
Alisha Ramos: In 2017, Alisha Ramos launched a newsletter in 2017 as a side project with the mission of helping women to relax, recharge, and cultivate a more meaningful sense of community in an increasingly lonely and stressful world. Now the Girls Night In (GNI) newsletter reaches over 180k people. Under the parent company of No Plans, Inc., GNI has expanded into a paid membership community and consumer goods brand. With plans for continued expansion, Ramos recently raised a pre-seed round of $500k.
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins grew up in a community that didn’t have many resources. She dedicated much of her career to her community as a labor organizer and activist. After a friend of hers had to face the broken justice system first-hand, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins realized that she needed to build a solution to help people get to court, so they wouldn’t be jailed for missing their court date. She and her co-founder went on to found Promise, an app to help solve prison overcrowding that has raised over $20m.
Ceiling Breakers are great at what they do, but feel like they have hit a ceiling in their current role and want to create something of their own. Their careers (whether as academic researchers, government innovators, brilliant technologists, or industry experts) have allowed them to cultivate a unique set of skills or a deep knowledge of a specific sector. This innovation potential gives them a competitive advantage in starting a company.
Ceiling Breakers We’re Inspired By
Damola Ogundipe: Damola Ogundipe worked as an analyst specializing in State and Federal policy compliance for over 6 years. He took these unique insights and went on to found his own tech company — Civic Eagle, which provides tools to discover, track, analyze and collaborate on state & federal legislation.
Songe LaRon: Songe LaRon was working as a Mergers + Acquisition Associate when he decided to pursue a business idea. LaRon had firsthand knowledge of the customer experience of going to the barbershop world, having frequented the barber since he was young. Even twenty years later, it seemed like the industry had barely evolved. LaRon and his co-founder Dave Salvant recognized this as an underserved market and built Squire, a business management and point-of-sales software focusing on barbershop owners. They have raised more than $100M in funding to date.