EnrichHER 2018 Spark Conference is set to take place on Wednesday, March 14 from 8am to 8pm at Atlanta Technology Village. EnrichHER, founded by Dr. Roshawnna Novellus are local initiatives designed to help entrepreneurs with coaching, capital, and connections. In business, the saying is “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” EnrichHER Spark allows entrepreneurs to advance their businesses by making meaningful face-to-face connections with local leaders, investors, business coaches, and like-minded entrepreneurs.
According to Dr. Novellus, one of the biggest issues that women-led businesses face is access to capital. For this reason, we include an entrepreneur showcase that includes a grant to a lucky entrepreneur. Also, we share resources that will increase your success of gaining capital.
Meet the EnrichHER 2018 Spark Conference Finalist
Melissa Chung. Founder. Krippit . Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management
Krippit is an artificial extension of the heel, Krippit increases the surface area of the heel base for walking stability and balance - providing the user confidence while walking on uneven surfaces. Krippit is a unique solution, fitting the majority of heel sizes/shapes while not scratching the heel where it is attached.
First Job Ever? Ironically, when I was 16 years old my first job was at a shoe store chain, where I won top summer sales! Perhaps, this experience has always sparked my area of curiosity for shoes!
Who are your mentors and icons that have influenced you the most and why? My parents, who worked hard all their lives to grow a global business. My dad who is never short of ideas and will turn anything into a new business venture. My dad has a similar philosophy to the late Steve Jobs; stay hungry for ideas new ideas.
When did you first realize that you were born to be an entrepreneur / business leader and what course of action did you take in terms of following that passion? My father immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong in 1967 with only $100 in his pocket. He slept on the ground of the restaurant where he worked as a waiter to save money. He was successful in drawing upon his analytical skills, business instincts, vision, leadership, and entrepreneurial focus to develop a unique idea in an untapped market. My dad’s best advice is to invent something that everyone in China can buy for $1, and you will have a billion dollar idea! Krippit follows a similar idea. Women around the world love their heels! An invention is only interesting if the masses can benefit.
Being an entrepreneur is a gift and a curse. We have to work 20 times harder and learn to sacrifice a lot to arrive to our destination. What advice would you impart to future entrepreneurs and to strong business leaders? Being an entrepreneur is tough, you need to be mentally prepared to battle the known challenges and stay ahead by being even more prepared for the unknown. After hearing 100 no’s you grow a tough skin and are able to face whatever lies ahead.
Leading a successful group is a challenge. How do you consistently inspire and motivate the team to extract the most optimized version of themselves to bring to the table? My abilities to lead and motivate others have also been among my talents and skills. During my first year as the president of the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA), a charity board that I’ve been involved with for over seven years, I have had to address great challenges between the staff and the executive director. My goal was to re-connect them with our organizational vision of improving the lives of many families and remind them of their important roles. I have demonstrated strong team leadership by embracing staff comments and suggestions in our main brainstorming sessions, making it clear I hear their feedback and concerns. I empower staff members with clear responsibilities, coach team members and celebrate when we reach important milestones. I have made a practice of acknowledging the best staff ideas at our monthly board meetings, raising morale. I have inspired my team to focus on common goals and to try new approaches. We have succeeded in securing $100,000 in United Way funding by demonstrating our organization’s ability to run successful programs.
When you have to put out a fire, what process do you have that's proven to be effective? I first evaluate the worst outcome and work backward from there to set expectations for myself or my team. I focus on the tools I have and what I can do this moment to reduce the damages. I think taking ownership and providing strategic action plans for each challenge will not only help to reduce the overall costs but, lead to a process to benchmark future results.
How do you decompress in order to keep that balance? Over the years, I’ve taken up Bikram yoga.
What's been the most gratifying business or personal role that you had that led you to be where you are now? I’ve always’ enjoyed being my own boss. During the financial crisis when I had the opportunity to take over for a retiring branch manager, I jumped at the opportunity to turn a money-losing business around and started growing the bottom line within 6 months. I love the challenge of solving a problem especially when it is my own. When I first told people about krippit, I definitely heard resistance from skeptics. I just turned those skeptics to believers today.
Life lessons learned that you carry with you to keep the fire alive to stay on top of your game? Today, my family owns and runs a global platform for which I serve as a consultant. From a young age, I watched my family’s business gain market share despite competing with global firms, and I learned first-hand how to maintain a competitive edge and deliver outstanding, customized service. As a small business owner, I’ve learned how to make quick decisions and adapt to customers’ needs—eventually landing the Microsoft and VIA Rail pension plans. I helped raise $2M of private funding and secured million-dollar consumer packing contracts with Fortune 500 companies including Motorola Mobile and Coca-Cola.
How do you define success? Success is merely defended by having a good support team around you. I learned that throughout the years having a group of like-minded friends and positive energy from people at home is what allows me to keep on going.
What's next for you? My plans for krippit, is to continue to expand our product line offering and continue to grow our customer base. I want to work closely with manufacturers to provide other makes the opportunity to manufacture their unit ideas to add new made in America products to our shelves.
Interviewed by Maryan Aiken. Publisher. WireTap Media.