Investment Opportunity: Seed Funding Stage
At a Glance
Year Created: 2018
Mission: Connecting top companies to more diverse candidates and crowdsources real projects to identify the best hires based on performance and skills. To leverage performance data to match companies with the most diverse, high-performing talent and to provide candidates of all backgrounds access meaningful careers.
Target Markets/Audience: 1. Customers Enterprise Organizations & Growth Stage Companies
2. Users MBA Level Candidates & Other Graduate Level Business Candidates
What Makes Stella Unique
A born problem solver, Stella Ashaolu is passionate about serving her community and leaving the world in a better place than she found it. A first-generation Nigerian American, Stella’s experience growing up in an immigrant family and watching her parents chart their own path paved the way for her future as an entrepreneur.
When Stella began building her professional network, she was dismayed to find that she was often the only Black woman in the room. That ignited her passion to represent her community and support people from marginalized communities who often don't see anyone who looks like them building companies and raising capital.
“Entrepreneurship is a really difficult and often lonely path. You really are trying to build something from nothing, and there's no playbook on how to do this or where to start. It's so critical to have a community of people who have done it or are going through it.”
What Stella Is Trying To Solve
The way that companies engage with talent, especially underrepresented talent, is broken. For too long, organizations have had a reactionary approach to hiring for diversity and inclusion. WeSolv’s mission is to revolutionize the way that companies engage with and hire diverse talent.
WeSolv is a platform that connects top companies to more diverse candidates. Crucially, it automates the process of assessing candidates’ skills and competencies through real projects. Candidates have democratized access to hiring managers, while organizations have access to a much larger network of underrepresented candidates and performance data for those candidates. This allows hiring managers to more objectively determine who the best applicants are and give opportunities to candidates that they might not otherwise have been aware of. WeSolv is the solution that's ubiquitous to creating impact and hiring candidates based on actual skills and ability and creating opportunity for candidates of all backgrounds to find meaningful careers.
We sat down with Stella to talk with her about how she got her start as a founder, what her seed funding stage has been like, and how GET Cities has helped.
What is unique or significant about being at the seed stage?
The seed stage is very unique because it's a stage where you've had to really grind to create the foundations of what you're building and get some sort of traction to move forward. The possibilities are endless. It's the stage where, while metrics and traction are really important, you really have to paint the picture of what you're looking to build. I think it's an exciting time, but that’s also what makes it really difficult, because you have to get other people to rally around you: You have to build your team, fundraise and find customers who will support or leverage your service or product.
What do you wish you’d known or done to prepare for the seed stage?
There's so much I didn't know, getting to this stage. A lot of it's around the importance of storytelling and getting really clear and concise on the vision of what we're building. It would have been nice to really understand the magnitude of just how difficult what I was embarking on, this journey of being a venture-backed seed stage company, especially as a Black woman. I definitely would have tried to surround myself more with people who were doing it and learning before I had to do it myself. If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, there’s a set path on how you go about doing that. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship, and particularly the seed stage, doesn't have any playbook or set journey. I think more exposure to it would have been really helpful, but at the same time, I think that's part of the journey.
Why do you think it’s important to encourage more women, trans, and non-binary people –particularly those who are also Black, Latinx, Indigenous and People of Color – to become entrepreneurs?
It's so important to encourage more women, trans, non-binary and people of color to become entrepreneurs, because having representation and seeing us take up space and be successful in this environment is so important to all those who come after us.
I also think we have a unique lens and perspective when it comes to solving a lot of the challenges or problems that we choose to solve, because our approaches and solutions are a result of our unique, lived experiences. I've been a Black woman my whole life, and I've had to overcome different challenges. I’ve had to face certain micro- and macro-aggressions and navigate systems that weren't built for me. It's that type of muscle of resilience that I think you need as a founder, because it's a hard battle no matter who you are, and you're gonna get knocked down over and over again. That resilience is critical to being a successful founder.
What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
One really critical piece of advice I like to share is: Closed mouths don't get fed. If you just open your mouth and share what you're working on and what your challenges are, you might get the help you need, so I advise every founder to not be shy about telling their story and sharing what they're working on.
Be brave enough to tell everybody about what you're building, about the challenges you're facing, about what you need–and do it in an authentic and humble way. That way, the people who gravitate toward what you're building become your co-founders or your team members. They could end up being folks who have insights or resources that you might need, but they would never have known how to support or help you if you didn't share. Sometimes, people are willing to provide resources and opportunities that you didn't even know they could provide.
What made you want to participate in this cohort?
I learned about this cohort as something that is being piloted to help support the resources and the ways in which GET Cities is represented. The opportunity sounded like a no-brainer. I was really excited to have this great organization working on my behalf and the other participants or cohort members to help move the needle forward. My participation not only could help my company, WeSolv, but it can help the founders who come after us.
What would you say is the most valuable tool, connection point, piece of wisdom, etc. that you’ve gained from working with GET Cities thus far?
The most valuable thing that I've gotten from this group is the support and the connection to more folks who are in the ecosystem. Part of it is just knowing that you have someone in your corner that believes in and supports you, which is sometimes underestimated in this long, hard journey.