From the Ground Up

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This is the season finale of Margins, and over the past six months, I’ve learned a lot about influence. I’ve also learned that Mary Ellen will never let me produce an episode consisting entirely of me interviewing Instagram fitness models.

When we started planning the season, I thought we would be talking about charm and charisma. Instead, the conversations have repeatedly centered around authenticity and consistency. One quote from M&A consultant Jennifer J. Fondrevay in Episode 3, has really stuck with me: “Demonstrate through your actions what you expect others to do. The leaders who haven’t been successful said one thing, but they didn’t apply that to themselves.”

So, if you want to have influence, don’t be like this guy. Instead, be like the three entrepreneurs we feature in this episode. They’re all kickass women doing kickass things — and they’re using their influence to help even more people kick ass, too.

And I’ve got a feeling that when they say they’re going to do something, you don’t have to worry about if they’re going to follow through.

Add us to your podcast feed and listen in!

Did You Do Your Homework?

Kim Seals is a general partner at The JumpFund, a venture capital fund investing that focuses on investing in women-led businesses in the Southeast. She also serves as a strategic adviser with Sapient Insights. In other words, if you’re looking for investment capital or really great HR consulting advice, you come to her.

But before you call, you better do your homework. For example, Kim and her team only invest in companies based in the Southeast, and every company must have at least one woman with decision-making power in the C-suite. If you don’t start the conversation already knowing that, you’re going to have a hard time keeping her attention.

You also need to be prepared to show why your idea is unique. “If somebody comes in and says, I'm going to be the ‘Uber of X,’ or I'm going to be the ‘Airbnb of X,’ then likely we've stopped listening right after they said that sentence,” she says. You have to tell your story in a compelling way. “We only invest in maybe three to four percent of the companies we see,” she warns.

“Have they done their homework to know what we're looking for as an investor group?”

What Happens When You Lose Oprah?

Paula Froehle is the co-founder and CEO of the Chicago Media Project, which has provided funding and support to some of the most popular documentaries over the past few years, including “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” “Crip Camp,” and “Icarus,” which won the Oscar for Best Documentary.

One of CMP’s most recent projects is “On the Record,” a documentary profiling Drew Dixon, a music producer who came out publicly with sexual assault allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons. The movie is now streaming on HBO Max, but its journey there was quite a winding road. In fact, the movie initially had the support of Oprah Winfrey, but she pulled her name off the film soon before its Sundance premiere.

It was a potentially disastrous moment for the film — what happens when you lose Oprah? While Paula says the experience was initially difficult, it also offered filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering a unique opportunity. “It gave Amy and Kriby a platform to talk about how meticulous they are as filmmakers,” she explains. “It enabled them to be able to refute the claims that it was somehow biased or skewed storytelling.”

How Will You Use Your Powers For Good?

Sevetri Wilson started her first business at age 22, and now she’s onto her second: Resilia, an SaaS platform that supports nonprofits. She has raised over $3 million dollars for her startup to date, and she was recently featured in Inc.’s 100 Women Building America's Most Innovative and Ambitious Businesses.

Sevetri’s journey in entrepreneurship is not just a story of resilience and financial success, though. It’s also a story of commitment to her community.

As her business has grown, she’s held fast to keeping an office in New Orleans. “I made a commitment to continue to operate in New Orleans in hopes that I can be part of the tech ecosystem — because everybody keeps leaving,” she says. It’s her hope that she can not only create more tech jobs in New Orleans, but also create pipelines for native New Orleanians to fill those jobs. “I want to help individuals who were born in New Orleans obtain better opportunities,” she says. “That’s one of the reasons why I kept my company here.”

“My staying in Louisiana has definitely been a fully heartfelt, connected responsibility to give opportunity and create opportunity.”

People Featured in This Episode

Full Transcript

SPONSOR READ: This season of Margins from Managing Editor is brought to you by Showcase Workshop, which helps your team deliver outstanding sales presentations wherever you go. Marketers, you’ll be able to see how your content performs in real time, so you can deliver more of what works. Learn more at showcaseworkshop.com/Margins.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: From Managing Editor Magazine, this is Margins. If you have “content” in your job description, or you’re just interested in how we all talk to each other online, we made this podcast for you. And this season on Margins, we’re exploring the idea of influence: who has it, who wants it, and how we wield it at work and in our communities. I’m your host, Mary Ellen Slayter.

ELENA VALENTINE: And I’m your co-host, Elena Valentine.

The Big Idea

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: So Elena, one of the difference between our entrepreneurial journey is that you did actually have like a tech company to start, like Skill Scout started as a technology company, as opposed to a company that uses technology. And you did go out and raise money, like you and Abby went out and you were successful at that. And then you made a decision, like you decided to do something a little different. Tell us about that.

ELENA VALENTINE: The truth is we couldn’t have started Skill Scout without raising investment, because as you had mentioned, we were anticipating on being a whole new thing, different thing entirely, right, which was to be a technology product, which takes a lot more capital and resources to do it. I think as I look back on that journey, what’s so strange is that I thought there was only one way to build a business, period, and that was to be like a Mark Zuckerberg and raise a lot of money and have hockey stick growth and then sell. I thought that was it. And so I proceeded with this plan, I would say, inside, rather uncomfortably. It was both nerve wracking and I think a constant pull on inevitably the kind of business that we wanted to build. And I think that was at the crux. Once we came down to, it was realizing that we were going to be going down this path and did Abby and I really want to be leaders of that kind of business, based on what we knew of the industry, based on what we knew would be the paths to do that, investment and those kinds of things being one of them. And at some point, I remember getting permission, in September of 2016, a woman told me there’s nothing wrong with building a business to last. There are many businesses out there that are just there to build great businesses and to last, and I said, “Whoa,” like, okay, that’s me. That’s what I was feeling, that the business path that we were currently on with raising investment in technology was not the kind of path that I wanted for myself. And after that, leaning into that, we realized that actually, you know what, we don’t want to be a technology product. In fact, if we really look at the landscape of HR tech, which I know you’re well familiar with, it’s a lot of stuff out there. And I think we’re okay with actually just doing really good and being very focused on what we are good at, which is storytellers and to be filmmakers. And so that’s when it really switched for us and the entire direction for our business and how we raised money or no longer raised money, kind of became our flag that we fly on. And I certainly think that it has influenced our own values as leaders and as a company.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: You had these investors who had given you money on the expectation that they were betting on the next hockey stick growth tech platform. So what did you do then?

ELENA VALENTINE: Well, we approached all of them and said, this is the new direction. This is what we see is being the best direction for us. So we not only appreciate your support, but we’re here to make it worthwhile and we’re going to pay you back, with interest.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: Which never happens.

ELENA VALENTINE: Yeah, which is interesting. Like you were the one to point that out to me that this was like an anomaly type thing. I thought that this was just being good business, right? Like especially when it comes to angel investors and family and friends, I mean, I would say there was a portion of these folks who were very instrumental to our growth, who we see as personal mentors, outside of our business. And so I think so much of this had to do with that, despite the fact that we were going to move in a different direction, we had to honor those relationships. And I still feel strongly about that. And you know that about me, right? That I care a lot more about honoring that relationship than anything else. And so that’s why we did what we did. I didn’t realize that that was not common.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: That’s part of why I have so much trust in you, like because you don’t just say these things. Like to me, you really literally put your money where your mouth was and it was like so natural to you. That tells me just like how core it is to your values. There’s some other ways in which you and Abby have built the business around your values too, like thinking about your staffing even, in how you choose to recruit people.

ELENA VALENTINE: That’s been huge for us, in part, because when we started, right, as our technology product and our inspiration, it came from social impact, right? We initially started because we wanted to change how young people and young people who lacked access and exposure to jobs and who didn’t look good on resumes to give them a new opportunity to learn about jobs and to apply for jobs that was outside of your resume and job post dichotomy, if you will. And so given that we knew from the get that how we wanted to build our business and particular workforce needed to look different, especially when our social impact wasn’t going to be as clear. And so I think for me, what I realized is that if we’re here to help other companies attract and retain diverse talent, then needed to have figured that out ourselves, that is an HR focused company I see it as my responsibility to push innovative workforce practices, to do things that perhaps some of my clients and leaders aren’t in power to do, may not have the courage to do. And as a small business, we can do that. We’re malleable enough to be able to do that. And so I, again, saw that as another flag and value that we needed to think very intentionally from employee number one, what inclusion meant to us, what diversity meant to us. And again, as a small business, we can be courageous enough to, I think, make some pretty strong statements if you will, in terms of how we see ourselves driving our business forward. So for example, one of the things that I helped to co-found in Skill Scout, was instrumental in this, was a nonprofit in 2017, that was about elevating women of color non-binary filmmakers in Chicago. And we did that certainly out of our own, I think, desire to want to change the film industry, change the film makeup, and that it would start with ourselves. It would start with us as business owners and changing what that looked like. So initially we saw, what is now Mezcla Media Collective is a talent pipeline for us, but it’s become so much more than that. And even in the past three years, we’ve grown to well over 650 members now, and I’m not sure how, but like now we’re becoming known nationally, which was odd. And I think fun, I think to see that we’re becoming now part of the national conversation of what equity means in film.

Interview 1: Kim Seals

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: Our first guest is Kim Seals, a general partner of The JumpFund, a micro-VC fund investing in startups in the Southeast United States. She also serves as a strategic advisor with Sapient Insights. We started our conversation by talking about what influence means in the world of business and investing.

KIM SEALS: A lot of what defines your success in the business world is your ability to influence those people that you don’t have direct control over, right? So you have to use influence to get to the outcomes that you desire, along with the other person that you’re trying to influence. So for example, in this investor investee relationship, neither one of us work for the other, right? But somehow we have to use our influence to get to our common objectives. You know, I have this going on right now with a potential company that we’re investing in, where we’re not on the same page around the valuation of the company. And so we’re really trying to lead with facts and information that will help us implement the outcome of where we’re going to end up with this valuation. So a lot of times you’re going to find yourself in situations where you’ve got to get folks aligned with you and moving in the same direction as you, but you don’t control them and influence is the way you’re going to get there. That soft skill of influence is of the most important ones that I advise folks to learn early in their career, because it will be something that they have to get better and better at. And it can ultimately, in many cases, define your ability to be successful.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: Was there somebody that taught you that or explicitly advised you on that?

KIM SEALS: I figured it out by watching, listening, learning, right. You know, it was interesting to stick around the same firm for as long as I did, but prior to staying there 15 years, I had never been anywhere longer than three years. I know that there’s a real, I guess, trend towards not sticking around places long enough, but if you actually get the chance to observe and listen and see how real leadership works and see decisions being made, decisions being implemented, the effect of those decisions, what it does for someone’s career, how they move. There are people that you can find that are role models in almost any topic you want. So I had a great coach when I was at Mercer and we worked a lot on areas where I wanted to grow as a leader, and some of it was delegation, some of it was influenced and negotiation and things like that. And the best advice that coach gave me was go find people who do it well and are successful in the way they do it. But don’t try to find one person who can do everything, find a person who’s a great delegator, find a person who is a great influencer and learn from them, right? So it wasn’t like I took a class on it. It was more about behavioral observations, of what worked and what didn’t and how people were successful and what you could learn from them. And then finding your own voice. Again, authenticity matters in leadership. You can’t continually mimic others and expect to be successful. You have to figure out how to learn it and then use it in a way that works for you.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: So what gets Kim and her team excited to invest in a company?

KIM SEALS: A lot times it’s really about whether or not they told the story in a compelling way that piqued the interest of the investor. So have they done their homework to know what we’re looking for as an investor group? You know, we have a specific investing thesis. Have they looked at the other companies who we’ve invested in to figure out a bit about what makes us tick? Have they done their homework? So sometimes it’s they’ve come in and they’ve got the wrong audience because they haven’t done their homework and they are not pitching something that fits into what we’re looking to do. But then other times, the pitch doesn’t tell a compelling story for what the unique problem is they’re trying to solve, why they are uniquely qualified to solve the problem, how they’re better than their competitors. So they’re not using their voice in the right way to tell the story in a compelling way that’s going to hook us in. A lot of people have great ideas, in an interesting market, but the people themselves are a lot of times our tipping point. And we want coachable, capable founders who we know will listen to advice, take input, and then be ready to pivot if something changes in their product market fit and they have to go into a different direction. So our evaluation of that leader in that pitch is just as important as what’s on the PowerPoint.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: So entrepreneurs get told no a lot, but why is that? Is there a shortage of capital or is there a shortage of good ideas?

KIM SEALS: We do see a lot of folks that are latching on to other ideas, right? And just maybe having a different twist. If somebody comes in and says, I’m going to be the Uber of X, or I’m going to be the Airbnb of X, then likely we’ve stopped listening right after they said that sentence, right? Because we really want them to be in a unique space. You know, there are still some spaces that are right for disruption. Like no startups have really come in in a meaningful way. And I’ll take one that may be a personal passion topic of yours, which is childcare, right? I mean, there have been a number of attempts to disrupt childcare through technology, to provide just-in-time childcare, just in time opportunities to have someone be with your child when you can’t be. You might have a longterm daycare school arrangement, but the child’s sick and can’t go to daycare, but you still have to go to work. So we’ve seen a number of companies pop up in this space and they haven’t quite nailed yet everything they need to be successful. So that’s an example where that’s white space that we look at. We really like the ed tech space. We think there’s a lot of opportunity there. So sometimes we’re channeling our vision towards areas where we haven’t seen a lot of disruption by startups and we’re looking to see more.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: But there’s one area that Kim and her team really want to disrupt.

KIM SEALS: So we have two starting gating criteria that if you don’t meet, we don’t take it any further. And those two are that you have to be headquartered in the Southeast and you have to have a gender diverse leadership team. So you have to have at least one woman in the C suite and that woman has to have equity on par with the men and be in a role of decision making and influence. Once you meet those two criteria, then from there, we’ll consider you against other early stage investing criteria. And that’s what I mean by doing your homework because a lot of times we’ll get sort of cold pitches come in and there’s not a woman to be found on the leadership team and maybe they’re based in California. So right away, we screen all of that out. And then we go for the ones that meet those starting criteria and then we look at what industry they’re in. We look at other sort of market opportunities there. And when we first started doing this, we started doing this back in 2013, and we were told by a lot of the folks who had been here for a while, that there weren’t enough gender diverse teams for us to get a good pipeline. And literally in the first two years, we saw over 200 companies. Now, as we talked about before, we didn’t invest in many of them. I think our number right around that time was probably closer to 5% of those that we saw, but it proved the point that there were a lot of gender diverse teams. They may not have been ready for investment, but they were out there and they needed to be in the top of the funnel to at least take a look, to get to the ones that you ultimately decide to invest in.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: Why did you choose to focus on this group of companies?

KIM SEALS: It was actually a lot of fun. I started doing it on the side, while I was still in my corporate role, doing some angel investing and investing in one off companies. And again, I think this goes back to the topic we’re talking about today, influence impact. You know, I’ve consulted with a lot of big global fortune 50 companies. That was fun and interesting, but the impact and the influence I was having in the startup world with these companies that were just coming out of the gate with one or two people and every hire is a strategic hire and every dollar they get, it just means the world to them. That was just much more dynamic and exciting. And women are actually very underfunded, right? So if you look at the venture dollars and the angel dollars out there, women get about 20% of angel investment dollars and they get less than 5% of venture capital money. KIM SEALS: So any time that you can put more focus on a problem like that, there’s an economic imperative behind solving that problem. Companies that have at least one woman in their leadership team, outperform all male led companies by 63%. So we’re in this to make money. We know that we can do that with this gender diverse lens. And just being in the startup world is just, it’s fun, it’s different, it’s engaging and it was the right thing for me at the point I was at in my life and what I wanted to do next. So it was the perfect storm.

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Interview 2: Paula Froehle

ELENA VALENTINE: Entrepreneurs such as myself and Mary Ellen can have it tough every once in a while, but filmmaking is actually one of the most difficult places to raise money in. To get an insight on these challenges, I spoke with Paula Froehle, the co-founder and CEO of the Chicago Media Project. CMP has provided funding and support to many of the most popular documentaries over the last few years, including Crip Camp, Won’t You be my Neighbor and the Oscar winning Icarus. She spoke with me about the unique experience she and filmmakers Amy Zearing and Kirby Dick had during the release of On the Record, a documentary now streaming on HBO Max.

PAULA FROEHLE: It was a film that we got involved in at the earliest point when it was just an idea and really it was on the heels of the Harvey Weinstein story breaking and the film initially was going to just look at a wide array of stories within the entertainment industry. And then when the film team was put in touch with the woman who’s the main star of the film, they realized they had this particular story about not just sexual assault in entertainment, but sexual assault, particular to African American women in an industry that has certainly been the launchpad for some of the most powerful African American men in entertainment. And they realized that there was kind of an additional layer that these women felt because within their community, they were being labeled as basically supporting the sort of perspective of white people in our against black men. That these women coming forward, who had been sexually assaulted multiple times, whose lives had been wrecked by these experiences when they were young women, were now being told they need to be quiet because all they’re going to do is proliferate this idea, this horrible stereotype in the culture about black men. So they had a double layer of oppression, if you will. And Amy and Kirby, because they are such expert storytellers and so empathetic, we’re able to encourage these women to come forward and to allow them a voice, to tell their stories and to construct it in such a way that it’s not only irrefutable what happened to them, but it’s also devastating for the audience to see what that kind of experience can do to a young woman, how it can change her for the rest of her life and the kinds of things that we all miss out on because of that. When you have someone, her name is Drew, when she, who had an incredible ear for talent, for musical talent, to think about at the age of, I believe like 31 or 32, she left the music industry because she had had repeated experiences and have been denied a voice, had been fired for bringing it forward, that finally, at least a decade later, if not longer, she’s now able to tell her story. And it was first supported by Oprah Winfrey, as an executive producer. And then a couple of weeks before the Sundance premiere, she pulled it and that almost caved in the premiere in the whole project.

ELENA VALENTINE: But what happens when your biggest supporter pulls out? And What about when she’s one of the most influential people on the planet?

PAULA FROEHLE: What was interesting is that it brought a lot of attention to the film, in almost equal level, right? It’s sort of, well, wait a minute. Why does Oprah pull her name off? Let’s take a look at the film. Let’s get to the bottom of the story, which then of course gave Amy and Kirby a chance and a platform to talk about how meticulous they are as filmmakers, how much research they had done against these accusations and ultimately how much communication they had had with Oprah’s team, who were seeing every single cut as it was getting ready for Sundance. So it enabled them to be able to refute the claims that it was somehow a biased or skewed storytelling. But the thing I think that is perhaps the kind of influence that maybe doesn’t get talked about quite so much as what happens to the women who came forward in the film, thinking that their godmother of sorts was going to rise up with them, help them, boost their, you know, after all that they had been through, that finally, someone as powerful as Oprah was going to kind of help acknowledge the stories and what had happened to them. So for them, it was doubly devastating to have somebody that they had all revered and knew of her power to have her pull out. There was a lot of management of just the kind of psychological impact of that on these young women and a fear that if Oprah pulled out, does that mean that their entire community is going to turn against them? Then what comes out of that for them is a whole circle of people coming around them, many of whom were men from the music industry saying, no, actually we believe you and we applaud your courage. And basically the film and the story really argues for these claims should be heard, there should be the ability for both sides to come to a conclusion about it. And if there is nothing here, then why not come forward?

Interview 3 - Sevetri WIlson

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: Sevetri Wilson started her first business at age 22, and now she’s onto her second. She has raised over $3 million for her tech startup to date, making her the first black woman in New Orleans to raise over a million dollars in venture capital. She’s currently the only black founder leading a venture backed tech startup in the state of Louisiana. She was recently named to Inc magazine’s list of the top 100 female founders leading the most innovative companies in America. We started off with her telling me a little bit about her new company.

SEVETRI WILSON: RESILIA is a SAS platform. We work across a double sided market, one that caters to nonprofit organizations, helping increase their capacity. So everything related to like trainings, workshops, we essentially have brought that through a software subscription. On the other side of the platform we cater to enterprises, are those who deploy capital. So specifically cities, private foundations, corporations, public charities, those who are giving money in various forms. And so as a consultant, we work in many capacities, but one was provided technical assistance, right? And so we worked with these large foundations, like your Ford Foundations, your Kellogg Foundations, underneath multimillion capacity funding and they essentially were hiring us to go and help their organizations be successful, to execute against the work that they had funded them for. And so in many ways, we took a lot of those things that we were doing as consultants and began to productize them inside of a software. And so everything from evaluations to monitoring and tracking, pulling data, reporting is all now done through our software.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: Tell me about the pitch process. How did you go around and get people to buy into your idea, like in a big way?

SEVETRI WILSON: I feel like as an early startup, you have to have a mixture of product market fit, but also as an early startup, you have to be able to like sell people a vision, right? And so in many ways, being that we’re not Oracle, or Salesforce. We don’t have the bells and whistles. You always have to be able to sell individuals not only on the product and what you’re building, but selling them on the vision of how they can utilize your product and continue to elevate their own mission.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: And what was the Sevetri’s vision?

SEVETRI WILSON: So I think the biggest piece of my story that I was selling is that I was a consultant. I created this other company. I was a consultant. I had worked with these individuals, these corporations, these companies, these foundations, these nonprofits. And now from that experience, I feel that there was a better way of doing this, right, and I believe that there’s opportunities to productize the services that we were offering as consultants and deliver it through a software solution. And so from that point, now, essentially, I’m trying to build momentum. I’m trying to essentially get like more steam behind the work and the product that we’re building. We also need to build out a team, right, to build it because software is a chief to build mission. And so I do feel that that was a big part of my narrative, right? I came from this space. I had these clients. They were paying me way more money than what we were charging your software and now we’re trying to essentially productize our work.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: We heard from Kim Seals about what investors are looking for in a pitch. So what does Sevetri think is the key to a successful pitch?

SEVETRI WILSON: I do think it goes back to like knowing who’s in the room and like what their previous deals look like, as well as trying to like galvanize them around something. And even generally speaking inside the room, you may have like one advocate or you may have two advocates and so you’re trying to get those people to also galvanize the room on your behalf. And so sometimes you, for sure, before you got to that investor room, you’ve already gone through at least a pitch to someone and you’ve probably had a call or two with someone on the investment team. And so if that person is bringing you to the table, they’re bringing to the table because they feel like this could be like a real opportunity. And thus, they done probably a little bit, they probably know a little bit more about the company than everyone else. And so definitely galvanize that person to ask the right questions, to remember what you said about X, Y, and Z. Can you explain that to them? And so I do feel like you have better control most times of rooms like that, but I’ve also been in rooms where I’m like get me out of here.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: Not a lot of tech companies keep a presence in Louisiana, even tech companies that are founded here eventually move out. So why does Sevetri keep an office in New Orleans? Her answer has to do with a lot more than money.

SEVETRI WILSON: What I realized, a few years ago, that I was going to have to bring resources back. And so we did open up a second office in New York. And so I was splitting my time between New Orleans and New York. And for me, it was like, okay, I’m making a commitment and keeping my office open in New Orleans, because I could just close my New Orleans office and just have like one office in New York. But I made a commitment to continue to operate in New Orleans, continue to build our team here, in hopes that I can be a part of just the tech ecosystem, because if everybody keeps leaving, then you never can actually create the ecosystem that needs to happen to create better jobs for people, to ensure that people are just pushing the hospitality careers, to expose people to this ecosystem where people are going from one tech company to the next tech company. And by way of doing that, you’re able to get more experienced people. And I do feel that having a New York team though allows my New York team who actually has been, you know, everybody’s working with tech company, to actually teach my New Orleans teams things that they’ve never been exposed to. And so, yeah, I think me staying in Louisiana has definitely been like a fully heartfelt, deep, connected responsibility to give opportunity and create opportunity.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: That and how cool is it? So like every little black girl in the state who wants to be an entrepreneur, to see you like crushing it.

SEVETRI WILSON: Yeah. And to be honest, entrepreneurs period. And so like, there’s such a disparity for entrepreneurs raising capital. I mean, I have white guys that reach out to me and ask me to make connections for them to investors. I have white women. And so now, we’ve raised more money to venture, in VC, of any female founder ever in Louisiana, like recorded on Crunchbase. So I get a lot of outreach from founders, of many places.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: I bet.

SEVETRI WILSON: So it’s very interesting, but I do feel like that’s like the point, right, of why like stay in Louisiana and continue to like build here.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: Sevetri’s obviously done some amazing things and she’s got some very ambitious goals, but does she consider herself an influencer?

SEVETRI WILSON: I’m not an influencer, but everybody says I have to accept it. So, I’ll just accept it, but as long as I denied it.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: Yeah. Because I’ve just like, I’ve loved watching your career even like kind of from a distance and seeing like every time you go money, I’m like, yeah. And I think that a lot of people are doing that, more than you even realize, like a lot of people are rooting for you and looking up to you, you know, like it’s a cool thing. I think you are an actual influencer, not an influencer.

SEVETRI WILSON: Yeah. Not a social media influencer, but hopefully like in the context of pushing change, influencing change.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: If you were to be able to use this influence that you’re building up to change one thing about the city of New Orleans, what would it be?

SEVETRI WILSON: So it would definitely be to help individuals who were born in New Orleans obtain better opportunities and I know that would take like driving more businesses to the city, but we did like a poll amongst the tech entrepreneur business owners here in New Orleans and just like larger business owners in general and it basically asks the question like how many of people that you hire are actually from New Orleans? And it was like 90% of everybody’s teams were not originally from New Orleans. And so it makes you think like, dang, well, where are all the people from New Orleans? And it’s like, Oh, they’re in like very, very, very low income situations in hospitality, probably not a good quality, it’s just not a good quality of life for people who were born here. And so I know people come here for like tourism and they come here for school, etcetera, but to actually create something for the people who were born and raised here and still live here to have a better quality of life, I think that will be like my focus and probably like one of the reasons why I kept my company here.

Closing and Housekeeping

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: So that’s it for this episode — and season — of Margins from Managing Editor. Find us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen in. Subscribe now so you don’t miss a single episode.

ELENA VALENTINE: And if you like what you hear, share us with your friends — and rate us on your favorite podcast platform.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: If you want to hear more from the Managing Editor team, then there’s an easy way to to do that. We send an email every Friday morning. You can join the club at managingeditor.com/subscribe.

SPONSOR READ: Thanks to Showcase Workshop, the exclusive sponsor of this season of Margins. With Showcase Workshop, all of your marketing and sales collateral is in one place, ready to present to prospects on your device or by email. Learn more at showcaseworkshop.com/Margins.

ELENA VALENTINE: And a special thanks to the two influencers who made this season possible: producer Rex New and audio editor Marty “Madness” McPadden.

MARY ELLEN SLAYTER: We’ll see ya’ll next time.

Rex New is a multimedia content producer. When he’s not driving his coworkers bonkers with extremely detailed feedback, he can be found in Jackson, Wyoming, snowboarding in the winter and biking and hiking in the summer. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and received a Writers Guild Award nomination for co-writing “Dance Camp,” YouTube’s first original movie.

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