Loralyn Mears, PhD
FROM THE LION’S DEN, TAMMY WILLIAMS WANTS YOU TO RETHINK WELLNESS
This article was originally published on September 26, 2019 at https://gritdaily.com/tammy-williams-philadelphia/
Last week, Grit Daily attended the FundingPost: Philadelphia event which is designed to introduce investors to entrepreneurs. The format is “Lion’s Den” style where the lions, and one lone lioness, listen to and evaluate pitches from entrepreneurs. While we were there, we heard several good pitches. One of the more notable pitches came from one of the women in tech, Tammy Williams, CEO of Envision2bWell.
We caught up with Williams after her talk to get the details on how she’s helping people live healthier lives.
Grit Daily: Thanks for taking some time with us today, Tammy. Tell us about your path to entrepreneurship.
Tammy Williams: At my last position, I was let go after accepting an invitation to speak at a big conference in Las Vegas. I was chastised then “managed out” despite previewing my presentation with my management team, using my PTO and paying my travel expenses. Truth is, I was fired for insubordination! But to this day, my employees still call me and praise how I treated them. I’m very proud of this.
GD: What makes you a good fit for an entrepreneur and how did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
TW: I’ve always regarded myself as entrepreneurial and one of the women in tech. Once you’re bitten by the startup bug, you’re done. It’s only a matter of time before you long to sink into the abyss of entrepreneurship again. Previously, I founded a management consulting firm as a sole proprietor and built it up to over $1 million in annual revenues.
GD: What prompted you to begin this startup?
TW: Although my business was successful, I learned that securing a contract with a marquis brand doesn’t equate with stability. The pressure of keeping my contracted consultants employed was stressful. So, I shuttered my firm then took six months off to regroup.
Doing so revealed how we don’t take care of our own well-being. Why? Because we’re so busy taking care of everyone else. I needed self-care but was raising three kids on my own. I felt lost. And I had the feeling that nobody would understand what I was experiencing so I kept it to myself. As women in tech, and women in general, we think that we need to do it all. Nurture the kids. Shuttle them to playdates and sports. Feed them. Run the business. It’s exhausting! So I founded Envision2bWell to help people live healthier lives.
PIVOTS ARE PART OF THE PROCESS
GD: I’m always interested in how people come up with the names for their company. How did you arrive at yours? What made you switch from She’sIT to Envision2bWell?
TW: Envision2bWell is an app powered by our technology platform, She’sIT. The acronym stands for Social Health Empowerment Through IT but that’s a mouthful. Our platform was developed to support our app which promotes workplace wellness. However, the original name, She’sApp, suggested exclusivity and that wasn’t my intention so we changed it.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. ~Steve Jobs
But it was more than just a name change: it was a pivot. In the spirit of Steve Jobs, I decided to bring the new brand forward. Plus, take on the crazy challenge of rebranding the app, website and all the collateral within 30 days. It took 35. On August 6, we went live.
GD: Tammy, you’re a woman on a mission. Tell us about Envision2bWell.
TW: The concept is 360-degree wellness founded on 15 themes of well-being. These include aging, work, family, fitness, spirituality, health and a host of other topics. This is a digital platform designed to promote wellness, better health and to save time. As one of the women in tech, I knew that we could go beyond creating an app. My vision was to create a platform that’s worth living in. Even the colors were carefully selected to represent and promote well-being.
GD: VCs always ask this question, so I will, too. How is your startup different?
TW: First, we categorize our wellness solution as a comprehensive digital ecosystem. Simply calling it an “app” sells it short. Rather, we’ve integrated multiple components: each of which could stand on its own. Second, we don’t work in a typical agile environment. Instead, we’re taking a real-time approach driven by feedback and need. It’s not easy! Third, it’s unlike any other wellness app on the market today. You can get everything that you need in one place. Our solution is a hybrid of health, fitness, and tele-medicine. Plus, it looks good! Finally, democratization by women in tech means being all-inclusive and that’s our guiding star.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF MARKET RESEARCH AND TRADEMARKS
GD: In 2016, you conducted some market research to identify the gaps regarding women, health and technology. Those results became the foundation for your business. Tell us about a few of the critical findings.
TW: Market research is critical to justify your existence. But you need to be prepared to listen to the results, even if they aren’t what you wanted to hear. Our initial intention was to design a fitness app. However, our survey results indicated that women wanted something more. Specifically, body metrics, ease-of-use, shopping guidance, spirituality, a forum for women to connect and numerous other components needed to be there. Surprisingly, color choice elicited much debate. Ultimately, our audience selected Orange for energy and happiness alongside Magenta for spirituality.
GD: You’ve trademarked your slogan, KSAA (Knowledge, Support, Access & Autonomy). How important is it for startups to trademark their taglines?
TW: It is 1000% important! Protecting your brand is critical. Besides, it can be done without an attorney.
PITCHING LIKE A BOSS
GD: Tell us about your funding journey. What stage are you at and how have you funded your startup to date?
TW: Our market research data convinced me that there was a need. I knew that it was going to be hard as hell but I was compelled enough to invest $300,000 of my savings. Women in tech network well together and help each other so that gave me the confidence to go for it. Today, we’re pre-revenue, pre-seed, and seeking investment to scale. Thus far, we are in discussion with several prospective corporate customers but do not yet have any deals to announce. Yet! Being self-funded, you’re forced to roll up your sleeves and dig into the weeds. It’s taken two years to get to this point and there is no stopping us.
GD: Many entrepreneurs struggle with pitching. What tips do you want to share with others on how to deliver a great pitch since you nailed yours?
TW: Emphasize why. Today, access and usability of health insurance are not broadly available and that’s a problem. I wanted a democratized solution that could serve everyone, including those living in rural areas far from clinics and hospitals. To captivate your audience, emphasize the potential impact of your business.
ADVICE FOR ENTREPRENEURS AND WOMEN IN TECH
GD: Since you’re one of only a few female entrepreneurs, and you’re a woman of color, do you have a message for other aspiring female entrepreneurs?
TW: Women are somehow rarely classified as “experts.” As such, it makes it harder to raise funds. The data shows this. We need to be authentic and live what we do. If you believe in something, keep going. I was told “No!” so many times that it actually had the reverse effect. The more that I was challenged, the deeper my conviction became. Align your passions with your daily efforts and you will be successful.
GD: You describe your mission and equate it with your “lifeblood.” Do you think female entrepreneurs tend to bring more emotion to business versus men? If yes, what makes doing so a positive aspect?
TW: Yes, women bring more emotion to the equation. Emotion moves people into action. It’s an advantage that women have. We make things happen.
ON HER LATEST
Earlier this week, Tammy gave a statement to the National Women’s Business Council in Washington, DC. The Council, representing Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship, Women in S.T.E.M., and Access to Capital & Opportunity, will vote on the proposed policy recommendations. Once the voting is complete, the President, Congress, and the Small Business Administration will be briefed and the recommendations will be included in the SBA 2019 Annual Report.