The Organization’s Co-Founder Shares How Bonding Over “New Majority” Leads to Connections, Resources and Growth
A few years ago, two women bonded over the opportunity to help other women who make up what they call the “new majority”—women, veterans and veteran connected people, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants and people with disabilities—who are traditionally underrepresented founders of small businesses.
These women—Elizabeth Gore (pictured here), who had spent almost 10 years at the United Nations working to bring equitable access to women, and Carolyn Rodz, a three-time Latina entrepreneur who saw one business fail and another succeed because of connections—came together to co-found Hello Alice. The robust online platform connects small business owners to funding, opportunities and experts to help them along their journeys—and it’s completely free.
“We thought statistically speaking, when women get equal access, they are incredibly productive and successful,” says Elizabeth, who serves as Hello Alice’s president. “We wanted to build a platform to really connect and enhance these owners. We launched in 2017 and while Hello Alice is open to every small business owner, we wanted to prioritize this new majority.”
Truly connecting and enhancing small business owners requires meeting them where there are. That’s why the Hello Alice experience is completely unique to each user. The machine learning-based platform delivers a user experience based on stage of growth, physical location and industry. And it adjusts and improves the more you use it.
“We’re mining very specific advice, resources and paths forward for your business,” explains Elizabeth. “We also like to work to bring community to the founders—whether you want to connect with people in your industry or to other women or veterans. We want to provide those peer-to-peer interactions and connections.”
Some of the latest user resources include:
• COVID-19 Business Resource Center
• Black-Owned Business Resource Center
• Hispanic-Owned Business Resource Center
• Military Connected Resources
The Hello Alice platform also provides another major advantage. It tracks data over time to identify systemic issues for small business owners. This data informs Hello Alice’s advocacy work as they speak with legislators, influencers and decision makers on behalf of small business owners to help drive positive change.
Today, Hello Alice is helping an average of 200,000 small business owners per week in all 50 states and even a few around the globe. Seventy percent of these users are women and the majority are non-white. “We’re really proud of that,” says Elizabeth. “We’re also proud that we’ve forged very strong partnerships to support disabled and LGBTQ+ business owners as well as military spouses.”
For women business owners just getting familiar with Hello Alice and its platform, Elizabeth has this advice:
Look for guides: These are elearning modules that guide you step-by-step through anything you’re building in your business—for instance, raising capital for the first time. If you get stuck, they’ll even offer a mentor to help you through it.
Find a community: This might be based on your industry or physical location. There’s a community, for example, through an AARP partnership for business owners who are 50-plus, or a community for business owners on their second or third business. Find one that resonates with you!
“Our goal is to save time and bring money and resources to business owners,” says Elizabeth. “It’s not a general search—the advice, tools and resources we put in front of your business are very specific to you. We’ll also immediately connect you with a network, accelerator or mentor to support you.”
So what’s next for Elizabeth, Carolyn and the Hello Alice team? #BusinessForall and voting, of course. They are working to provide resources for small business owners whether they still need to register to vote or are considering the best way to allow employees to take off time to have their voices heard.
Additionally, they’ll be taking what they have learned from Hello Alice’s platform data to both presidential candidates so these candidates know what’s important to small business owners now and in the future.
Don’t Go It Alone…
“I really worry about the mental health of our owners right now,” says Elizabeth. “We’re having to make the hardest decisions. I encourage them to reach out—to your fellow NAWBO members, to Hello Alice and to your advisors. Don’t make these decisions in isolation.”