Today we’d like to introduce you to Juan Young.
Hi Juan, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I was born to entrepreneurial family. My father had several businesses during my childhood, and my mother owned and operated a pre-school for about 23 years. After my mom passed, I became the Director of the pre-school. So at the age of 22, I was overseeing a pre-school with 30+ children and a staff of four. I learned very early the ebbs and flows of entrepreneurship. The lessons I learned early on in business has definitely shown me firsthand the importance of patience and resilience in business. Fast forward to May 2020, when I became so frustrated at how difficult it was to find culturally relevant business content online. It was extremely different to find business resources that was culturally relevant and spoke to the stage I was as an entrepreneur. So instead of complaining about it, I did what I have always have done and sought to create a solution. As a non-technical founder, I began my journey of creating a tech startup and the rest was history!
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road has not been smooth at all. There are so many things you don’t know about building a tech company. The first thing you have to get over is the idea that you CAN’T build a tech company unless you were this hot shot developer. That is absolutely not the case. So to make a long story short, I did what most first-time non-technical founders do, built way too much and spent way too much money. So I knew that the lack of diversity in online learning was a thing and I had an idea on the “best” way to solve the problem. I found some developers overseas and contracted them to build this app I wanted to launch. Mistake #1 is that I did not have the full scope of what I wanted to build. So the project went on months longer than it should, which in turn meant that we were thousands of dollars over budget. Once I had an MVP (minimum viable product) I launched it to the public and the response was not what I expected. I quickly realized that I fell in love with the solution instead of the problem. I didn’t talk to potential customers to validate my idea and ensure that what I was building actually solved the problem that I was addressing. Well, what we just spent seven months building actually didn’t solve the problem at all, so we needed to pivot. We raised 100K via an Equity Crowdfunding Campaign, built our email list to 3,800+, and spent over more money than I want to share (my wife is still trying to wrap her mind around this, so we don’t need to bring this up again lol). We pivoted after eight months and we found our niche, now we are rolling!
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Melanence is a networking platform that uses machine learning to match entrepreneurs to relevant, meaningful connections. The future of work is entrepreneurial, and our mission is to close the network gap for BIPOC entrepreneurs while making professional networking easy, fun, and relevant. Melanence exists to promote Black +Brown entrepreneurship, to provide access to educational resources, and to facilitate opportunities for entrepreneurs of color to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. Melanence is the easiest way for entrepreneurs of color to find resources and build meaningful professional relationships to accelerate their business. We create a safe space for entrepreneurs of color to connect to other entrepreneurs to share resources, best practices and expertise to shorten the learning curve and accelerate their business.
We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
Wow, I have so many. I would say my favorite childhood memory would be going to church with my parents on New Year’s Eve. It was a family affair and we had a blast.
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