We Teach Female Entrepreneurs How To Succeed In Their Investment Pitch

If you had access to $15 million in capital, what would you do?

As Told To

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is Vivian's, Sasha's, and Dr. Tracy's (founders of Flourish Media Conference) story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

Black women are extremely excluded from the investment world.


In fact, the numbers have dropped. When we started hosting our annual conference four years ago, women saw 5 percent of business funding—if that. Now, depending on the report, that number is less than 1 percent. These numbers have been stagnant, and backing women has suddenly become trendy with big businesses hosting pitch competitions, awarding 6-figure checks for photo opportunities that tell a glorious story about female support and blah blah blah, *insert supportive stats here*

But make no mistake about it, scaling a business takes real money.

We created a safe space for women to come learn about best practices in excelling as an entrepreneur, all while placing you in front of investors. We packed it up, created avenues, and decided to have the conversation.

This is when Flourish Media Conference was born.

Photo Courtesy of Flourish Media Conference

Here's why: as a team, we have attended more than 100 conferences, but never quite felt like panelists were speaking to us. There was always something missing—whether it be speakers that understand the struggle of a female entrepreneur, being of color in spaces that we don't already exist, brands that focus on the needs of people of color, or successful unconventional young entrepreneurs speaking on trials and tribulations of reverse ageism.

We wanted to create a space that didn't have the fluff. We wanted people to attend our conferences and leave with actual action steps, relationships, or tangible items to propel their entrepreneurial journey. We're not here to be your beauty guru. We're here to tell you how many times we fell on our asses before learning how to be a player in the game.

And we strengthen your tenacity along the way.

If you had access to $15 million in capital, what would you do? How would you pitch? How would you invest? How would you position yourself to be successful?

That's what FMC is all about.

They say that good things come in threes, right? Here's each of our advice on how to be the ultimate entrepreneur in a world where we aren't often acknowledged:

Sasha | @iamsashar

Becoming an entrepreneur was always in my cards growing up. Both my parents were entrepreneurs, as was the majority of my family, so getting a job was never in the forefront of my mind. I also grew up in a strict Haitian household where all we did was Leglise, l'ecole ak lekay (translation: church, school and home). My parents only asked me to get good grades, be a servant of God, and go to college. Given that, I had the opportunity to be in the art club, run for student government, learn to sew, and really find myself creatively. Looking back now I was a minipreneur preparing myself for the life I have now.

I made my way into the creative world as a clothing designer and hair stylist in Miami after I graduated from Florida International University, until I decided to refocus and give back to my country of Haiti. My vision with all the businesses I have, was to move the female agenda forward.

We assembled Flourish Media Co. after finding a void in the black female entrepreneurial space. Vivian was starting her second company I came on board to help her with branding. Our contacts list from years and years of work made funding dollars available and we began introducing female, small business owners to willing investors. We knew that we wanted attendees to get the best information we had to offer. We knew we wanted to highlight using media to grow a business.

But our first year had no mercy on us and I am pretty sure I cried a lot.

We went into it like this will be great, we can totally do this ourselves! ...but very quickly learned building a team and learning how to delegate tasks would save us a lot of mental breakdowns when someone brings you kelly green balloons and not forest green balloons (I had a level 50 meltdown that day haha).

Eventually, we got into the swing of things, and became influencers in the industry. Now, my only goal is to pay it forward in every avenue that I have access to—and even those that I don't.

My most significant lessons in entrepreneurship:

  • Build a team you trust. You can't do it all by yourself.
  • Don't do things that make you unhappy. It drives my business partners crazy but I will politely excuse myself from situations that disturb my energy.
  • Be flexible! You can always have a plan but sometimes the plan needs to change for the better. I am never so planted on an idea that I can't hear what God is telling me.
  • And while competition is healthy, collaboration is key.

I'll see you ladies at the top.

Vivian | @vivianolo

I have a fantastic relationship with money. I just understand it. I understand that money is our way of saying 'thank you' for a job well-done. I knew that, even when I was underpaid and stressed out over bills.

Traditional career planning gave me the chance to work on fantastic projects with Disney Corporation, The Wall Street Journal, Miami International Airport, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate and the Miami Heat. My career put me in rooms with CEOs of major banks, high profile real estate professionals, and celebrities. I quickly learned that profitable business systems are transferable. Ask me and I'll certainly tell you all about it.

I grew up surrounded by safe choices in non-traditional environments. Both of my parents are immigrants who joined the United States military. My father is from Nigeria. My mother is from Panama. I was born in Germany. An exotic origin story to say the least. I attended 8 different schools in 4 different states, collecting friends along the way. Despite moving around often, my parents went out of their way to build structure for myself and my brothers. My parents encouraged me to try new things which built my confidence. They taught me to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

But creating a business went against everything I grew up seeing. My parents are first-generation Americans, US military veterans, and teachers. They believed in me, but they didn't have any advice to give me about running a business. I had to go out and find mentors.

Finding a group of like-minded people to bounce ideas [off of] makes all the difference for me. I highly recommend it.

Yet, even with success, I can always remember thinking, what if no one shows up?

My most significant lessons in entrepreneurship:

  • Content is king and time management is vital. If you've never done an event it's easy to let ego get in your way. You might think you need to be flashy, have celebrity speakers, and fancy gift bags but that's a lie. Your people will find you.
  • Get clear on why you're bringing people together and express that clearly. Those people who want what you're offering will show up.
  • If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, get a team. There are so many lessons to learn along the way. I find that I enjoy the journey because I have a strong support team.
  • I cannot express how much you need a sales plan. The hardest part about producing any event, is putting people in the seats. Don't forget that part.

Ladies, it's our responsibility to take care of all women. It's your responsibility too.

Dr. Tracy | tracytimberlake

My concept of entrepreneurship was pretty skewed. In college, two of my professors specifically told me I should start my own business. But that sounded like sales, yuck! It wasn't until I started my YouTube channel that I realized how much money I could make just by being myself. When I realized that, I was super duper sold.

I grew up in a single-parent household (my father was a career military man and died in service when I was 7). My mom is from the Philippines, and we were very middle class. So, growing up, I had this interesting middle class mindset upbringing, but always had this seed of a desire to become something more.

I think I knew very early on—maybe 6 or 7–that I'd probably do something different with my life. I had no clue what that was because everything I was exposed to was the contrary. Its funny, because 15 years ago, I thought I'd be in some high rise C-suite running things and telling people what to do. Now I get to do that, just from my bed and in yoga pants.

Over time, my passion has developed, sustained, and nurtured FMC. And what I love most is we empower, but in a real tangible way.

We make sure our attendees leave with more than fluffy fluff fluff motivational talks. We want them to feel like they are ready, not just in theory, but in practice.

And that's exactly what they get.

Because I frequently have to go from one thing to the next, I invest very heavily in high-level support. Coaches, mentors, etc. I believe in the power of coaching (otherwise I wouldn't be one). I've had coaches all my life—from athletics, to academics to singing and music. This season of my life is no different.

And what Sasha does on our team to bring to life to the FMC experience, and what Vivian does to ensure we have the right partners to make it all happen—it's really phenomenal. They are geniuses.

And together we've figured out how to pay it all forward.

My most significant lessons in entrepreneurship:

  • Successful entrepreneurship is really a science. There's lots of moving parts, lots of formulas, lots of trial and error. And mindset matters more than anything.
  • Start before you're ready. Don't have a website? Put words on a page and a PayPal link at the bottom. Make it better over time. And build as you go!
  • Consistency compounds! So, keep going, don't waste potential.
  • Be scared of complacency. I'm always moving, and always expanding and always trying to figure out how to push to the next level so that I can serve as many people as possible. It's always a conversation in my head that says "Well that sounds scary, I don't want to do it." But the higher version is of myself answers back with a resounding, "If you're scared then that means you definitely need to do it!" Growth solves everything. So, that is always the goal.

Your goals are where success lies. The success is where the work is.

Remember that, ladies.

To keep up with the FMC team, you may check their website and Instagram for updates. Also, to sign up for early-bird access to their upcoming 2021 conference, click here.

Featured image by courtesy of Flourish Media Conference

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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