Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Gore.
Hi Elizabeth, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
My career started when I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia and spent the subsequent decade working to support the United Nations. I saw firsthand how small businesses could be created anywhere and with anything. I saw how small businesses offered economic freedom to many. Women were selling goods to support their families. It was inspiring to see this entrepreneurship. I later joined Dell as their Entrepreneur in Residence, where I was tasked with finding technology to support growing businesses. All of these experiences ignited my passion for providing opportunity and access where it’s needed most to those who need it the most. Entrepreneurs don’t lack ambition but need access to capital and other necessary resources. We’re working to provide that at Hello Alice. Now, as co-founder and president, I am able to help businesses launch and grow, specifically businesses owned by the New Majority — women, people of color, U.S. veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, entrepreneurs with disabilities, and more. Through a network of over 1 million companies in all 50 states and across the globe, Hello Alice is building the largest community of business owners in the country and I couldn’t be more proud.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Raising capital as a woman is extremely difficult, even more so if you are a woman in technology. The space is male-dominated, and stigma is often unavoidable, which means necessary support is rarely given. As a technology company, Hello Alice needed to raise venture capital to continue to grow. We closed a $21 million venture capital Series B round after being told “no” hundreds of times in our early years. We learned a lot from the “no’s” and turned them into an eventual YES. It’s experiences like these that push me to work harder to make a change for others through our work at Hello Alice. Because we are part of the New Majority, we understand our audience’s obstacles, specifically our women audience, because we faced them ourselves. Women founders face a significant gender gap and are denied access to capital. In fact, only 2.3% of venture capital funding went to woman-owned businesses in 2020 [Crunchbase]. We’ve been working hard to provide them the support they need in the form of resources and targeted grant opportunities to ensure their long-term success. My personal hero, my grandmother said it best; “hold our heads up high and give them hell.”
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Hello Alice is a free platform that provides small business owners the tools, resources and access to funding they need to grow their businesses. With a community of over 1 million business owners in all 50 states, Hello Alice is building the largest community of small business owners in the country while tracking data and trends to increase the success rate for that group. A Latina and women-owned company, we have a specific focus on New Majority owners as they face persistent and glaring disparities in access to capital that prevent them from growing their businesses, providing living wage jobs, and strengthening the economies in their communities. We see this as a massive financial and social impact opportunity and my primary goal is to ensure equitable access to capital for all. The last 24+ months have been devastating for small and midsize businesses. 2020 was all about businesses shutting down, laying off employees, and trying to survive. 2021 brought renewed hope, but with COVID still rampant and ever-changing rules, small businesses still struggled.
Now in 2022, government assistance has ended, but the financial need is still great. Hello Alice has supported New Majority owners through it all. At the onset of the pandemic, we deployed the COVID 19 Business Resource Center. Owners could access resources and apply for non-dilutive capital. We raised and distributed over $20 million in emergency grants to small business owners to support their survival. The largest percentage of those grants went to women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, those with a military connection, and entrepreneurs with disabilities. Our grant fundraising hasn’t stopped. Rather, we have been able to bring on additional partners to put money in the hands of owners that need it the most. We were proud to announce this year as the Year of Small Business. In partnership with Mastercard, NAACP, GEN Global, and the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, we are opening up equitable access to capital, directing consumer spending toward small business owners, and providing business education, networks, and opportunities to millions of small business owners.
In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
The future looks bright for female entrepreneurs! With women making up a large majority of our platform’s users, Hello Alice closely tracks the challenges, needs, and sentiments of female small-business owners. A recent data temperature check draws from anonymous owner data and survey insights from the nearly 400,000 women on Hello Alice. The pandemic actually spurred a huge rise in entrepreneurship, specifically for women. Hello Alice found that 30 percent of all small businesses on our platform were founded during the pandemic years. These new businesses harness women’s talents, create new jobs, and deliver solutions that make our communities and lives better. As we look toward the next 5-10 years, the work will be nurturing these seeds of economic independence so that women can sustain themselves, shatter glass ceilings, and close the opportunity gap once and for all. In total, 81 percent of women owners told us that they expect their business to grow in 2022. But that will be possible only if we continue to find ways to connect them with the capital they need to survive over the next few years.
- Hello Alice is free to owners and networks and nonprofits that support diverse owners.
- Website: https://helloalice.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/helloalice_com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AliceConnects/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/HelloAlice
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfhLefUi2bhYoImQlUrVFaw
ElizabethCarolyn Image Credit: Pocho Sanchez