I was asked to give a presentation or speech on a client’s outcome earlier this week by Susan Gall.
By way of preface, I think it’s relevant to add some frame of reference of who I am, and how I tend to view my life and my life’s work. I’m an idealist, a mother who has proudly raised two male feminists and was once described by my beloved father as a bulldog. Quoting him “Once she clamps her teeth down on something, it is going to happen.” Feel free to interpret that last characterization as you will.
I must also add that I am a fanatical baseball fan. Anyone who is in relative close proximity to my cubicle knows that the Houston Astros are beloved to me and I will give a nod to my Twins. Clearly Nelson Cruz has one of the most poetic swings in baseball today. Of course, I am in mourning over the World Series loss by my revered Astros, but my unwavering support of the team and the game remains intact.
So why baseball? The part of baseball that engages me and inspires me is the way the game can initially be seemingly so slow-paced and suddenly, in a blink of an eye a batter swings for the fences, hits that sweet spot on the ball and it soars with stunningly velocity and distance beyond the outfield, into the stands to the amazement of thousands of roaring fans.
So what in the wild world of sports do baseball and client outcomes have in common?
The client outcomes I’ve seen just since June have been as diverse as one could imagine. It’s difficult for me to select one that stands out. That being said, I have always maintained a sense of believing that the so-called impossible was actually just potential in waiting and that both business and life can pivot in astonishingly unexpected ways. At some point, someone swings for the fences and maybe, just maybe hits a home run.
My client outcome story is the story of Rothana Walbolt and her product FreezeStax.
Her personal story is nothing short of heart-wrenching. She is a Cambodian refugee who survived the genocide in Cambodia. Between 1.5 and 3 Million people died in Cambodia at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Rothana and her family lived in the midst of all this violence. At age six, she was removed from her family by the Khmer Rouge and forced to work in the rice fields. Her father petitioned a Khmer Rouge officer begging that she be returned to her family because her mother was sick. She returned to her family and war erupted between Cambodia and Vietnam. Rothana’s entire family was moved into a refugee came and it is where she grew up. Her childhood in that camp was marked by fear of execution and starvation. Ultimately, Rothana watched helplessly as her older sister died of starvation.
This was just part of what I learned in our initial one-on-one client meeting. Imagine walking that one off.
FreezeStax Product: Her story and experience of starvation inspired the invention of her product FreezeStax. The product is designed as a low-cost solution to reduce food waste.
FreezeStax is a hard plastic stacking system that allows you to use resealable zip lock bags to freeze food in a uniform way. Once frozen they stand on their own in your freezer, allowing for more space and much less food waste. Rothana has a patent pending, and has a tested prototype and a manufacturing solution for a larger production run in Wisconsin. What she doesn’t have is access to capital. She works two jobs as a home health care worker, lives in a small apartment, and gets roughly 4 hours a sleep a day.
The business challenge presented here is the need for $50,000.00 for a client who has no personal assets and an untested, albeit interesting and novel product. She’s unbankable at this point and conventional financing isn’t an option. She’s had a couple offers from so-called Angel investors that I would categorize as predatory and borderline criminal. After meeting with her, and hearing her story I started flipping every rock I could think of to get to the $50,000 mark needed to launch. It’s the rock flipping that brought me to ifundwomen.com.
Ifundwomen is a crowdfunding ecosystem for female entrepreneurs that was founded by Karen Cahn. Ms. Cahn is a former Google and YouTube executive and considered a thought leader in the digital media space. The average amount raised by women entrepreneurs is $20,000.00. Here in Minneapolis, the Coven raised over $300,000.00.
They have a proven methodology and I’ve sat in on every coaching session Rothana has received. They flew her out to NYC where she filmed her crowdfund video. Based on Rothana’s following, her product and iFundWomen own knowledge and investor base they believe the $50,000 is not only attainable but conservative.
The FreezeStax crowdfund is scheduled to launch in mid-November. It is a swing for the fences, but maybe just maybe I’ll be able to watch in awe at a home run.