She was born Joy, but chose Action as her moniker. “After all, an idea without action is worth nothing,” she says. This intense need to turn ideas into action pushed her to open a media production company for small businesses back in 2018. It was also what brought her to Impact Hub Houston, where she found support to build a business model for her most audacious project: The Black Business Lab. Action was one of the 8 founders to participate in the Female Founders Program, an initiative of Impact Hub sponsored by Frost Bank. From May to July 2021, Action worked closely with Impact Hub’s CEO, Grace Rodriguez, and received support from additional experts to build the Black Business Lab Project business model. “The Lab” is a spinoff of the Black Marketing Initiative, which she created to help black owners thrive in business.
To understand how she got here, we must look back to 2020, when COVID hit and caught her by surprise. At that time, Action was celebrating one-and-a-half years as head of Action One Media. She wanted to change the narrative about Black business owners and started by helping small businesses communicate with clients and the community through media content, especially in video format. The company was online but got its client base from having 20-100 people come to their small studio every week and doing events outside. Action decided to close the company as soon as COVID hit. The following three months were hard. She had no clients, no revenue, and no clue where to go next. But she knew she had to do something, and she decided to start by listening.
In June 2020, Action and her team–the Action Squad–led a survey with 226 small business owners. Over a hundred of them answered they were about to close if they didn’t get online. Action soon realized the need and the urgency to do something about it. She used the data from the survey to pivot her business and offer a well-rounded marketing strategy for clients.
“In a nutshell, you can get video to show your face. You get the consulting to know where to put your video and help yourself get the clients you want. And we can also save you time by automating the process for you.”
She implemented an entirely new system to meet the unique needs of small businesses. Finally, things started getting better, but Action was still not happy. She knew from the surveys that most owners couldn’t afford the service. Action was struggling herself to put her company back in business after months without revenue.
“We realized we didn’t need just to sell the services. We could create a program and offer the services to the business through the program funded by grants, crowdfunding or anything we could pull together to help Black owners.”
Impact Hub was crucial in implementing the first pilot she did with 16 Black owners. Grace Rodriguez even participated in some of the sessions and helped shape the business training. But Action wants to go further. Her next goal is to build a Black innovation corridor in South Houston. She compares it to other Houston initiatives, such as the Energy Corridor and The Museum District. She already gathered more than 20 businesses, and they are working together to create a safe space to help Black owners get the support, the funds and the collaboration they need to thrive.
Action’s pitch sounds firm and convincing. She says this was one of the best aspects of the Female Founders Program. The constant practice and interaction helped her strengthen her case for support. Frost Bank’s advisors also helped her build some new financing strategies, especially regarding balancing her statements.
“They gave their hearts to make sure we learned. These are things sometimes we ignore as founders. I got some strategies behind changing our financial year.”
The three intense months of coaching sessions and hard work also helped her build new perspectives on her business. “We got counsel from them to build up the part we were missing. If you are a service business like us, you think you don’t need a supply chain, for example. Until you answer those questions in the assessment that they gave us. That in itself opened my eyes the most. It gave me a different perspective. And you need all the perspective you can get.”
Since we are talking about Action, we shouldn’t be surprised by how fast she is putting everything she learned in the service of her community! She is working with partners to expand the Black Marketing Initiative into the Black Business Lab. They applied for grants and are developing an asset map for the Black Innovation Corridor. The project has the support of some of her largest clients, including NANCo Aero–an aerospace company creating a “flying car”; South Union CDC–a STEM Foundation for youth and seniors with a solar co-op; and The Fish Bowl Experience–a pitch competition that gives away up to $50,000 in funding to small businesses owned by college students, veterans, and entrepreneurs with serious hustle.
“The ability to be who we are, take action on the things that matter, and impact is a blessing. We can build business models that can be used by the world to improve the world while making money. The sky is no longer the limit.”
When you talk to Margo Jordan it is hard to imagine that she once suffered from low self-esteem. Yet, this confident and persuasive entrepreneur says she struggled when she was a little girl back in Milwaukee, WI, where she grew up. Today, she is a successful and passionate founder who turned her own struggle into an educational company that helps students overcome low self-esteem and depression. Her entrepreneurship journey started in 2013, after 10 years in the Army and a brief experience in the finance sector. She was only 26 years old when she opened her first company, a facility in Northeast Houston to offer enrichment programs for children, including day camps and workshops.
Thanks to a combination of creativity and strong knowledge in finance, Margo was able to develop her leadership skills and grow her business. But like many founders, she had to deal with unpredictable events that tested her resiliency and leadership skills. The first big challenge came in 2017 when Hurricane Harvey destroyed her facility in Northeast Houston. Nevertheless, Margo didn’t give up and was able to raise funds to continue serving families in Houston.
Two years later, another major disruption menaced her business. COVID forced her to stop the in-person programs, but also offered an opportunity to make a greater impact and help students cope with a new reality marked by isolation and uncertainty. She pivoted and focused all her efforts on her e-learning platform, Enrichly.
Currently, Enrichly has 500 subscribers and impacts more than 10,000 students from different grade levels and backgrounds. The platform offers self-esteem-based learning workshops and curriculum, live content with teens and influencers, and mental health resources. The goal is to help members build their confidence, recognize their capabilities, and put limitations in perspective. According to Margo, having high self-esteem helps prevent depression, anxiety disorders, and even suicide. It affects all aspects of life including academic performance.
When parents and schools from countries worldwide started coming back to her for help, she realized she was dealing with a global issue and started expanding her business outside the US. Her platform currently reaches members from 12 countries, mainly parents and educators trying to help students overcome depression and low self-esteem. Margo is also negotiating with corporations and schools in countries such as Brazil and the United Arab Emirates. Her most recent contract was with the Arabian American School, which will bring a self-esteem learning program to their campus middle school students in Dubai.
The power of connections
As a visionary entrepreneur, Margo thinks it is important to take risks and learn from mistakes. She recognizes the value of connections and resources for her business. In 2021, Margo was selected to participate in a three-month support program offered by Impact HUB Houston in partnership with Frost Bank. Since May, she and seven additional Founder women had weekly meetings with advisors and mentors to refine their business model. The program has also helped them gain a deeper understanding of business and financial management, while working on their pitching and funding model.
“The amount of resources we received are invaluable. Being able to connect with Grace and Michelle has allowed me to put some of the pieces I’ve been missing together. Grace and I worked on my diagnostic and defined a lot of what my company does and gave me a more concrete plan moving forward. This was very instrumental in making sure I’m capturing my impact more efficiently,” says Margo.
Margo’s next steps include launching the Enrichly app and growing her membership program. She is also working on a side project to help students develop leadership skills and an entrepreneurial mindset. She admits it was particularly difficult to build her reputation and raise money being a Black woman, and she wants to inspire others to believe in themselves and fight for their dreams. Considering her personal story, and the passionate way she talks about her mission, Margo is certainly a great inspiration.
Workforce Solutions selects MassChallenge and Impact Hub Houston to operate a startup bootcamp designed for female founders.
(Houston, TX) April 1, 2021 – MassChallenge, the global network for innovators, Workforce Solutions, the public workforce system for Houston and the surrounding 13 counties in Southeast Texas, and Impact Hub Houston, a locally rooted and globally connected impact innovation incubator, today announced a new partnership to launch a bootcamp to support female founders in the greater Houston region.
Together, Workforce Solutions, MassChallenge, and Impact Hub Houston will identify and support female founders looking to start a new high-growth or high-impact startup and support them through the earliest stages of building a business.
“There is unprecedented growth in startup creation as a result of the pandemic and founders from all corners of the world are connecting in this virtual environment to build and scale amazing ideas,” said Jon Nordby, Managing Director of MassChallenge Texas. “With these new collaborations, we are also witnessing a massive gap in access to startup development resources. Our partnership with Workforce Solutions and Impact Hub Houston will help female founders build on their existing knowledge to become life-long innovators. MassChallenge is thrilled to partner with Workforce Solutions to equip bold entrepreneurs, disrupt the status quo, and create meaningful change.”
Grace Rodriguez, CEO/Executive Director of Impact Hub Houston, adds: “As a female founder myself, I’m incredibly excited about this opportunity to support and uplift more women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses in our region. By now, it’s no secret that women, and especially women of color, are under-invested in; and this is our chance to change that by helping more women strengthen their businesses and prepare to seek funding. It makes perfect sense that we’re starting in Houston — one of the most diverse cities in the country and consistently ranked one of the Top Ten cities for women entrepreneurs — and that we’re launching this with our partners at MassChallenge Texas and Workforce Solutions, both of whom have been strong allies in our collaborative mission to empower diverse entrepreneurs and talent.”
“Workforce Solutions is excited to partner with MassChallenge and Impact Hub Houston to bring to life a new bootcamp designed for mission-driven women focused on creating, sustaining, or expanding a business,” said Mike Temple, executive director of Workforce Solutions. “We recognize that small businesses and startups are vital to the continued growth of the local economy. Our goal is to drive a community that will support female leaders in support of entrepreneurial activities that create income and new job opportunities across the greater Houston area.”
The female founder bootcamp leverages MassChallenge’s proven acceleration model and Impact Hub Houston’s inclusive incubation expertise to identify, accelerate, and connect female founders with the resources they need to launch and scale high-impact businesses. The bootcamp is industry agnostic and applications are open to all female founders in the Houston-Galveston region, offering them access to the global MassChallenge and Impact Hub curriculum, workshops, and networks of expert mentors and resources.
Applications to the bootcamp are live April 1 – April 7 and applicants will need to meet the Workforce Solutions eligibility criteria in order to participate.
Applicants can apply by:
Submitting the pre-screening application by the deadline of 5PM CT on April 7 2021.
If a pre-screening application is approved, a Workforce Solutions staff person will reach out to the applicant to schedule a meeting; a response is needed within 2 business days.
At the conclusion of the assessment the applicant will be asked to complete the Workforce Solutions Financial Aid Application and upload supporting documents; this process must be completed by April 19, 2021.
Twenty-five applicants will be selected to participate in the Women’s Entrepreneur Bootcamp on April 29th and 30th. Content will be available in both English and Spanish.
Workforce Solutions is dedicated to keeping the Gulf Coast region a great place to do business, work, and live. Our employer-driven, people-focused approach elevates the economic and human potential of the region to attract and retain the best employers, afford everyone the dignity of a job, and remain indispensable to the global economy. As the public workforce system for Houston and the surrounding 13 counties in Southeast Texas, we work in tandem with the Texas Workforce Commission and the statewide Workforce Solutions network.
MassChallenge is the global network for innovators. Headquartered in the United States with seven locations worldwide, MassChallenge equips bold entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo and to create meaningful change. Since launching in 2009, more than 2,900 MassChallenge alumni have raised $8.6B in funding, generated $3.6B in revenue, and created more than 186,000 total jobs. Learn more about MassChallenge at masschallenge.org.
About Impact Hub Houston
About Impact Hub Houston (houston.impacthub.net): Impact Hub Houston is a locally rooted, globally connected, 501c3 nonprofit impact innovation incubator that empowers diverse changemakers to solve some of society’s most pressing issues. A member of the Impact Hub global network — the world’s largest community recognized by the United Nations for accelerating entrepreneurial solutions towards measurable and scalable impact for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — Impact Hub Houston intentionally designs places, platforms, and programs to build an inclusive innovation ecosystem that looks like Houston and works for all.
About Impact Hub
About Impact Hub (https://impacthub.net): Impact Hub is a global network focused on building entrepreneurial communities for impact at scale. With 100+ communities of 16,500 social entrepreneurs & innovators in more than 55 countries across five continents, Impact Hub is one of the world’s largest communities and accelerators for positive change. It contributes to the development of social enterprise ecosystems to drive collaboration and innovation around the Sustainable Development Goals through locally rooted Impact Hubs, as well as with partners and allied networks.