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Getting Access to Capital with Hello Alice’s Elizabeth Gore

May 30, 2020

Intelligent Business Advisor.

Elizabeth Gore is the Co-Founder of Hello Alice.

Hello Alice helps you find funding, opportunities, and expert mentorship for your business using intelligent software.

Learn more about how Hello Alice can help you discover what your business needs to grow by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on   Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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0:00
Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, we're all reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.

All right with us right now we have Elizabeth gore and Elizabeth You are the co founder of Alice, which is the intelligent business advisor. We met at the Inc 5000 conference. Thank you so much for joining us.

0:50
Oh, it's such a pleasure, Josh. We're excited to be here and anyone who helps small business owners launch and grow we are we are there with them and unity.

0:59
What was the Inception for Hello Alice or it's just Alice right? It's on the web and hello Alice. So I always like to call it that, but it's just Alice.

1:09
Yeah, yeah. Or I'll just say hello.com. We Our goal is to help small business owners launch and grow. And the exciting thing in America right now is there's 560,000 small businesses watching per month. And if that doesn't get anyone excited, I don't know what would. And we really believe that anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit should have equal access to business services to funding to network to mentorship. So we launched Alice very specifically as a social enterprise, be free for owners to leverage their first three to five years in their business as they're making key fundamental choices. And when we launched we said we would ensure that women people of color or us veterans are getting, you know, equal playing time in a sense with these business services, which we're happy that we've certainly kept that commitment.

2:04
Tell me why that's important to you.

2:08
Sure. So I mean, one is it's the best economic bet. So you know, as a capitalist, you know, when what I call them a new majority of business owners, so collectively, again, women, people of color, your starters, veterans with disabilities, the LGBTQ plus community, yeah, when the majority of them get equal access to capital and resources, they tend to equally perform or outperform their white male counterparts. And to me, that is a really good bet. That will boost our economy create jobs, I think it's critical. So analysis, of course, we're open to all owners, but we just wanted to reach further to ensure that our software is really equalizing the playing field for who we think are some of the most talented folks and I'll include folks in smaller markets in that you know, small towns like where I grew up are really important to our economy. And so how are we ensuring business owners? In second, third and fourth tier markets are also getting support?

3:10
Yeah, yeah. And so to kind of, if you could, for someone who's not really familiar with how Alice works, can you kind of explain it?

3:19
Sure. So Alice, we built it on top of a machine learning platform. So when you log on to Palo Alto comm, we ask you a series of questions, your stage of growth, physical location, your industry, what are your pain points, what do you need? And then we also ask your gender ethnicity, are you a veteran, and because of knowing that data, we're able to mine the exact resources that you need in that moment. So instead of doing a huge broad search, we're saying okay, if your are a electrician in Detroit, in XYZ neighborhood, your needs are probably very different than if you're a baker in Kanto. You. And then if you're a US veteran, I come from a veterans family, we want to be able to find you all the discounts that are available to you, the lower interest loans and so on. So we're really getting as granular as possible for our owners. And then sometimes I you know, most our owners, I know I am are very time for so also helping what, here's what step you should do next. And the best use of your time is generally, where we find is one of the most important things that we do.

4:31
Wow. So right now as a military veteran, so I shouldn't be doing this. But I've been signing up. As we've been talking, I just like one click and just got all registered. And so then the process now is, I'm just going through a series of questions. So how would you classify your business? What is your basic needs right now? You know, I'm looking to grow my business. So this is kind of cool. So so one get registered, what are the services that I'm going to have access to our way help me understand the support that I actually get?

5:08
sure there's, there's, I think of it as as two tracks that are equally important. One is guiding you through processes. So if you're a brand new business owner, you have to register your business with the state, you have to have a website, you have to pay your taxes. So you have legal needs, you have to have internet, you have to have cloud at this point in your business. So we literally take you step by step through those processes. So hey, I need to create a website, here's three options that you can use, here's how much time it should take, if you choose to outsource. Here's the direction if you choose to do it yourself, here's the time it'll take. So we literally take you step by step. If you're a company that's been around for five years, maybe you're going after a line of credit or you're going after a bank loan for the first time, we're literally going to take you step by step through those processes. On the flip side, We really mined as many opportunities as we can, again, most of us don't have time to consistently search for opportunities. So on your dashboard, we will always be having, hey, there's a pitch competition, hey, there's a new, no interest loan, if you're a black female founder, there is an event down the street from you for those who are having private wealth businesses. So we are constantly mining opportunities as well as networks. Have you joined the Chamber of Commerce? Have you thought of joining bunker labs for veterans? So either we're guiding you specifically through a step or we're consistently pushing opportunities to you as a business owner?

6:40
Wow. So we should probably talk about this after after we record this interview. Are you familiar with the military influencer conference?

6:51
I am actually and they're one of our resources on Alice, which is only

6:57
good, good. I was hoping you incur test either because that's, that's an event I've been very involved in since the DNS before the inception. Yeah.

7:08
And we need, you know, that's the thing exactly what you just did. There's every opportunity on Alice to tell us because there's no way for us to know everything of, hey, Alice, have you heard of this resource? This network, or Hey, this resource did not work for me, is sometimes equally as important

7:25
is their opportunity and what does that look like for businesses that say, you know, a Porsche, you know, what we are committed to our mission, our purpose, our values, is that you know, that we're constantly finding ways to provide aspects of our business pro bono, at least, you know, mentoring, you know, when we're committed to that, how do how does someone like that get involved?

7:50
Sure. So if someone is providing services on their size, so maybe I'm an accountant, maybe I'm an individual web developer. There's so many vendors services that you can actually when you register on Alice, you can create a company profile. Okay. And then there's a toggle that says, I would like to have introductions. So if I'm on Alice I'm searching for I need someone to help me with marketing in Houston, who knows software, you would pop up in that search. And then you can ask permission, I'd love to meet that person. Alice pink seven says, Can I make an introduction? And there you go.

8:28
Wow. Oh, my gosh. Yeah. So talk about pretty cool. Yeah. So tell me more about some of the successes that you've helped create? Because I know you've you've good activity.

8:41
Yeah, you know, we get most excited when maybe two owners on Alice which happens a lot decided, wow, we have really similar businesses. Why don't we join together and partner so we create a lot of matches when it comes to co founders. Our number one thing that people are getting excited about Allison episodic funding, so we mined a lot of fun so Pepsi's Fund for Women and healthy snacks we have L'Oreal's women and beauty fund. We have all these funds on Alice, where people can apply for 25,000 50,000 hundred thousand dollar grants or non equity. Can those give our business our huge booth? I'm proud to say the Bumble fund is on Alice now. So and that's specifically for women and people of color that are looking for equity based investments in our small business. So you know that we get here constantly how much that funding really helps when someone's not quite ready for a loan yet or they're not. They don't know if they want to go after equity based funding. Yeah, but my favorite thing we've we've done of late is we have rolled out our feature for entrepreneurs with disabilities. the disability community is huge in the United States and unbelievably innovative companies. And so we've been rolling out features To ensure that people with disabilities have equal access, we can help them find co working spaces that are accessible, help them find a lot of patent and IP information because they're creating well unique products. So I'm pretty excited about that. And I don't know, I just get really inspired by entrepreneurs that come from all corners of our country. And as long as we can continue to provide these opportunities, and I will just not sleep till I'm dead.

10:30
Elizabeth without Alice, tell me about the problem there is with access to capital.

10:38
Oh, man, so it's definitely I think, first of all, for any owner, generally cashflow and access to capital is the number one issue I'll never forget. I used to be the entrepreneur residence at Dell. And I asked Michael Dell, what keeps you up at night? And he said, cash flow is like, Oh, no, it's like, you've a billion dollar company. And that's earlier Yeah, exactly. But it is it is a huge issue. And then if you're a woman or a person of color, disability access to funding, I mean, the percentages dropped by almost 80%. It's not only 2% of women are getting venture capital right now 30% getting loans. And then you can also look at our awesome white male counterparts that that live in second and third tier environments that have really innovative companies, but they're not near a major metropolitan city. So I really worry a lot about cash flow about loans, but equity based funding getting to the hands the right people, because generally it stays in specific geographic environments. Yes, and stays with a specific group of people. So in loans is a really important part of this, whether you're thinking about the Small Business Administration, your local bank, national banking, so that's That's certainly not something we've solved. But something that we're really paying attention to. We're also trying to figure out other forms of capital like factoring, for example, and or SDI or grants from the federal government. And there's new debt financing that's getting more popular. Obviously, crowdfunding is is still the new new, you know, it's been around for a bit. So that's certainly what's on my mind is, is people have access to capital. And you know, as you you being in a veteran space, veterans are less likely to get loans because of higher fill rates, which in fact, all the data shows that veterans are highly successful when we get the right amount of capital. A lot of this is just image or people's false understandings. But the other is access. So I think we have a lot of work to do both on educating financial decision makers on how successful these business Foreigners are, but also ensuring that we're trying to get them access to that capital in whatever form is appropriate for that business.

13:08
Right. Right. What about the kind of the state of business capital and one area that I've been pretty passionate about? is I, you know, there's a lot of alternative lenders out there. And I've unfortunately seen a lot of business owners get themselves in a pretty bad position. Yes, listen, I get this piece of mail. And I can be funded unless I call them

13:32
I call them predator. So they're probably out. I mean, let's just call it what it is. I mean, it's no different than the folks that are on the corner saying will will cash your check for 40%. Right, these are predatory. And so you know, I the right capital is as important as the capital itself, right. And so that's when I really want people to think about calling your buddies At all other businesses go next door if you do if you're a bakery and there's another bakery down the street, that that old adage of walking in and saying I have five minutes I need I need to talk to you and you know we call it six months plus one anyone who's just done what you've done six months ago probably will give you the best advice and that's why I love Alice while you can search for like I just went through a series a it's a first time embrace a series actually reached out of our own network and said Who else was raising a series A right now? So whether that's through Alice or frankly, just within your own network, or go to your chamber of commerce, every single time in America hasn't Chamber of Commerce and get, say this Arabian Rep. reputable, excuse me, lender or bank or financial institution.

14:51
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

14:55
And you any just the other thing I tell folks is even though it just pains me To pay legal fees, find your lawyer and pay that fee and have them review your document. It will save you so much money in the long term that it certainly equals out in the end.

15:14
And so with Allison, I guess the, the kind of the vision for the future, explain that share that.

15:24
Sure. So our vision is to, frankly to show the profitability and success of new majority owners. So if I'm enterprise business service, or I'm a government agency or I'm a venture capitalist, but I am really going after different market, smaller towns, people of color, I'm investing in the thousands of us veterans coming home right now. And that that is not just the right thing to do, but it is a profitable venture for your bonus. To me that is the the kind of Apex objective for us in turn. We want to help. We have a goal of helping 6 million owners, we set that goal three years ago, we're on track to do that. And we have a, a big thermometer in the wall that we mark once a month saying how many owners we've helped, and it's really important to us.

16:18
Wow. And so again, just to make sure I understand so if I register for Alice, and I'm open to mentoring opportunities, how do I wave my hand and say, yeah, if you need help, you know, just message me or that

16:33
kind of thing when you it is so on your profile page when you It says create your profile. There's a really overt button on the top right, that says I'm open to introduction. So, yeah, we make it as simple as humanly possible. And we have a lot of communities and Alice, on the top right navigation. If you click on communities, there are these communities that very automated Animals crop up, like black female founders or the whole city of Omaha. And so you can also get into these communities where people are more of a collective mentorship, chatting, posting ideas, there's a community for businesses impacting climate change. There's veterans, military, spouse communities, it's kind of neat that folks can create those and, and really support each other. There's no industry specific. They're all over the map, but they're super engaging, which is exciting. This is fantastic.

17:31
All right. So again, this is all on HelloAlice.com. And so Liz, but this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us, and is there. Yeah. Is there anything else that people should know about Alice or, you know, other than just juice just go and register? It's, I mean, it's, it's free? Yeah.

17:54
I would, yes, absolutely. Go and register, but also ever Anytime you log back in, it's our goal to have a new opportunity for you. So if you come in and you don't see something fresh and new, that's a great for your business, then send me an email. All right.

18:13
Well, that's great. Well, thank you so much for building this again. Elizabeth for us. Yeah. You're the co founder of Allison's on the web at Hello, Alice, calm communities support resources. And and you're learning from fellow business owners who have been there done that and not just marketers that are just trying to sell you a bunch of stuff, which there's enough of that out there.

18:42
There is absolutely. Well, thank you, Josh, for spreading the good word of thanks, Elizabeth.

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