It’s Female Founder Friday, and I am delighted to introduce you to woman entrepreneur, Amelia Friedman. Amelia is co-founder and COO at Hatch, an automated software development company enabling business leaders to launch a custom app on iOS, Android and web for a fraction of the cost of hiring a software development firm. Her company’s goal is to make the experience of creating and deploying your own software simple, reliable and affordable. Amelia has been recognized as a Y Combinator Fellow, a Washingtonian Tech Titan, a Top 40 Entrepreneur Under 40, one of DC’s 50 On Fire, and a Power Woman of DC Tech.
An advocate for women in tech, Amelia launched the Vinetta Project in DC. The organization now grants a $20K cash prize to a local female founder, engages with 150+ founders and 100+ investors annually, and has helped DC-area female-founded companies raise millions in seed-stage funding. All that, and she’s an amazingly fun, humble, intelligent woman who you always want to see at an event! Amelia is an entrepreneur I see continuously challenging herself, helping others, and leading by example. I personally cannot wait to see what she will accomplish in the next 5, and 25 years.
So, if you see a hole in the market and are curious how to build a company that creates the solution, are looking to build a custom app, or if you’re just in the mood for killer entrepreneurial advice… don’t miss Amelia’s candid answers to my questions below.
What inspired you to create your company?
In 2015 I was selected as a Halcyon Fellow, so I moved to Georgetown to participate in their social entrepreneurship incubator. There, I met Param Jaggi, another Fellow. At the time, I was working in the education space and he was building software to promote sustainability.
As I was mapping next steps post-Halcyon (looking mostly for more stable, corporate gigs) Param approached me about starting a company together. He must have seen online database software made easy by Kohezion and was obviously inspired. This company would make it possible for anyone to build an app without coding, thereby breaking down barriers to app development. At that point, he had built the core tech for what would then become Hatch. Param is one of the smartest, most creative people I’d ever met, and I quickly realized that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with him.
Now it is 2 years later, and I haven’t regretted the decision for a single second. When it comes down to it, you’ll spend 40+ hours a week working alongside your business partners, and another couple dozen hours on the phone or messaging them out of the office. It’s always about the people, and I get to work with great people every day.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
In early 2016 we ran out of money. We weren’t ready to raise capital yet and we didn’t have a product that was customer-ready, so things were looking pretty dismal.
Meanwhile, we found escape from our stressors in the reality TV show playing out in our political system, and presidential primary debate-watching parties had become a staple of our social lives. Latching onto the theme, we manufactured a ‘Cards Against Humanity’ for the 2016 Election, and ended up raising $100K.
We learned a lot from that little blip in our story- how to develop a product, how to run a business, and how to work with each other.
There are still days where we want to give up, but we never let ourselves. As entrepreneurs, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain: Worst case, we leave this entrepreneurial adventure with a bit of debt, bruised egos, and many lessons learned. Best case, we build something that changes the world forever. So when the hard days hit, we plant our feet and hit back.
We’ve built a product that makes it possible for business leaders to quickly and affordably build apps, and now we need to make sure that people know about us!
We’re transitioning from product development mode to growth mode, and certainly feeling some growing pains. Fortunately for us, our current customers are wonderful, and we’re excited to work with more business and nonprofit leaders that want to build apps.
We definitely want to venture more into different aspects of the software development market too. There are so many amazing software development businesses out there and so we might draw inspiration from this company to curate our own fleet of dedicated development teams.
I have also been doing a lot of research into other areas such as blockchain technology, which has soared in popularity in recent years. Ideally, we would like to offer dApp development services at some point in the future.
Put simply, dApps are an abbreviated form of decentralized applications. A dApp has its backend code running on a decentralized peer-to-peer network, whereas apps run their backend code on centralized servers. By running through blockchain technology, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks that act as an operating system, dApps create an innovative open-source software ecosystem that is both secure and resilient.
Correspondingly, I am intrigued to see what else is in store for blockchain technology.
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
Give back to your community.
I’ve spent a lot of time building up a local organization called the Vinetta Project, where I helped female founders raise capital and access support networks. I spend hundreds of hours per year working with these female founders, and sometimes it feels like it’s distracting me from my company. I finally realized, however, it’s built me a ton of goodwill locally, and we met many of our early investors for Hatch through my Vinetta work.
Giving back to the community is now a company value not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s good for business.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Work with people you love on product you love. And start today.
The hardest part is getting started, and if you do it with great people and work on something that you’re passionate about, it’s certain to be an awesome ride.
And if you’re looking to build an app for your company, shoot me a note. I’ve got your back 🙂