Starting up a company with your mother probably seems like a total recipe for disaster, but Mixtroz app co-founders Ashlee Ammons and Kerry Schraeder definitely seem to be making the mom and daughter dynamic work. The pair has successfully ventured in the tech sphere, launching an app that aims to take the networking and event game to the next level.
To shake up the networking experience and encourage more user interactivity, the Mixtroz app (free from iOS or Android store) allows clients to enhance networking events by merging engagement and interactivity together without any hangups. To use the app successfully, hosts are encouraged to download the app at the start of an event with 25 or more attendees. Then, hosts direct users to download the app, completing a virtual name tag, and a real time survey customized by the event organizer and or sponsor. This helps drive value to attendees via increased engagement and connection, all while capturing the data collected during those interactions.
However, the best part of the app is the interactivity aspect to it, as the tool provides a real time networking experience through the help of technology. The app typically groups three to ten attendees together, and even provides conversation starters to the group for a unique curated group networking experience.
Founders Ashlee and Kerry hope the app takes awkwardness out of events, as the app uses technology to drive real-time user engagement into the physical space.
Ashlee and Kerry
“We liken this experience to making it everyone’s first day of school instead of an uncomfortable experience for attendees that attended the event alone or for colleagues and can’t figure out a clever way to break apart from the group,” the founders say.
“Events are for connecting, and Mixtroz levels the playing field to support real connectivity.”
In addition to kickstarting an app venture, Kerry also wears the title of breast cancer survivor proudly, as she has successfully managed to be cancer free for up to a year now. And despite the many challenges associated with the diagnosis, her faith, unwavering familial support, and dedication to Mixtroz are what helped her stay strong when she was at her worst. Her advice to other female business owners undergoing cancer related treatments is to make sure your health and well being are your top priorities.
“My advice to all business owners and specifically women business owners (because historically we tend to the needs of others first) is to take the time to schedule and go to annual exams and pre-screenings because early detection is the key,” Kerry says.
Ashlee and Kerry
Revving up a startup business with your mother may seem nearly impossible, but it really has been a godsend for both Kerry and Ashlee, since they would not have it any other way. Not only has the business helped enhance their own personal relationship, but it has allowed them to learn things about each other they never knew before.
“We were very close before we started the business, but we reached new heights within our relationship growing a business together,” both founders agree. “It’s fascinating, to learn brand new things about someone you’ve known your entire life; you see their strengths and weaknesses, their ups and downs in the ultra violet light that is sometimes hidden behind the rose colored glasses of familial bonds.”
As successful businesswomen who aim to make the entrepreneurship environment more inclusive, Kerry and Ashlee hope to expand Mixtroz in the near future with the help of an angel investor. That way they can branch the company out even further, and help share the app’s connective message with the business world.
“Beyond growing Mixtroz into a successful women and minority owned business, we are working to support the mission of making entrepreneurship within the tech space a more diverse and inclusive environment for all,” the founders state. “With the partnership of an angel investor or group of angel investors we can more quickly realize this new dream and begin to scale our company (to self-service) and get this world connecting again.”
The Quick 10
1. What app do you use the most?
Kerry: Fitbit! Trying to check myself on my commitment to move about during the day.
2. What's the first thing you do in the morning?
Ashlee: Check my Fitbit to see how many hours of sleep I “actually” got. Entrepreneurship can make your mind race but I take my health and wellness seriously; the healthier and happier I am the more valuable my business becomes.
3. Name a business mogul you admire.
Ashlee: Sara Blakely, the inventor of Spanx.
4. What product do you wish you had invented?
5. What is your spirit animal?
Ashlee: Dolphin – There are human to dolphin communication devices in the works! Wow!
6. What is your life motto?
Both: “You can start late. Look different. Be uncertain. And still succeed."- Misty Copeland.
7. Name your favorite work day snack.
Kerry: Wine! Just kidding, when I'm making good choices: fruit or nuts.
8. What's something that's always in your bag?
Ashlee: Fresh Tinted Lip Treatment in Sugar Poppy, it adds a little pop to my weekday fresh-faced look.
9. What’s the most inspiring place you’ve traveled to?
Kerry: Although I've been blessed to travel to a few places, my hometown is where my heart is and where I am most inspired. It reminds me of the seeds my parents planted for me to succeed and because of it the things I've been able to do and see.
10. Desert Island. Three things, go.
Ashlee: Kerry, iPhone (with extended battery), and case of wine
We're here. We're queer. Now that it's pride month, it feels like every store and corporation is flooding us with their best rainbow merchandise, capitalizing on a $917 billion dollar consumer market.
The rainbow flags are out. The mannequins are sporting pride tees. And corporate newsletters are full of interviews showcasing all their queer employees ("Look, we have a gay person here! We GET you!").
To me, this is blatant evidence that the future is queer.
These corporations follow the money, and with 20% of millennials and 31% of Gen Z openly identifying as queer, these businesses have to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of LGBTQIA+ consumers. With a recorded market size of $917 billion dollars in 2016, and a growing interest in socially conscious brands among young consumers, this is clearly a market opportunity that corporations cannot afford to ignore.
However, I'm always surprised by how little attention investors and the entrepreneurial community devotes to this undeniable trend, despite being constantly inundated with overwhelming statistics proving the importance of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Only 2.2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2018, less than .1% of funding has been allocated to black women since 2009, and only about 1% of venture-backed companies have a black founder or Latinx founder. These statistics are over-quoted but underacted upon.
This gender and diversity inequality significantly hinders economic growth, since 85% of all consumer purchases are controlled by women, and startups with higher ethnic diversity tend to produce financial returns above their industry norm.
The data is clearly leading to one direction: investing in women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, veterans, immigrants, and other minority groups in entrepreneurship leads to higher revenue and better business results.
As data-driven and forward-thinking as this industry claims to be, we haven't caught up to the queer founders, particularly queer women, who are rethinking the future. These founders understand and speak to a generation of increasing numbers of LGBTQIA+ people whose market share will only continue to grow exponentially. VCs and investors are already behind the curve.
SoGal Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, is helping bridge this divide between queer women founders and investors with the launch of applications for the second annual Global Pitch Competition for diverse entrepreneurs. Hosted in 25+ cities across five continents, and culminating in a final global pitch competition and 3-day immersive educational bootcamp in Silicon Valley, this is the first and only globally-focused pitch opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs.
Startups that are pre-Series A (raised less than $3M) with at least one woman or diverse founder, apply here to pitch! The top teams selected from each regional round will join SoGal's final global pitch competition and bootcamp in Silicon Valley for guaranteed face time with dozens of top Silicon Valley investors, curated educational programming, unparalleled 1:1 mentorship, press exposure, and a chance to win investment capital.
Women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ founders: what's the best way to kick off pride? Apply to pitch!
Regional pitch rounds will be held August-November 2019; final pitch competition in Silicon Valley in February 2020. Details and additional cities to be announced.
SoGal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the largest global platform for diverse founders and funders in 40+ chapters across 5 continents; our mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship. SoGal Foundation's global startup competition represents the first and largest opportunity for women and diverse entrepreneurs and investors to connect worldwide. Join the SoGal community & follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.