Stepping into the corporate world as a young professional, and not to mention as a woman, is both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. This past summer, I dove further into the field of business, sales, marketing and more as an undergraduate student through learning about the field of business outside the classroom setting and with a more hands-on approach. I crafted my first "official" resume filled with past and present accomplishments, worked on nailing the interview and collaborative skills and prepared myself to embark on the professional endeavors that lie before me.
One of the most beneficial experiences I've had, however, was my time overlooking the building process of the solution to a problem Dana Yobst and Ashley Hart, the co-founders of a home healthcare startup organization that's ready to launch called Fayvor. I have the fortunate opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of the step by step process of creating a business, how to run and maintain it, and the dedication necessary to achieve one's goals through participating directly in the creation of a business and applying my interests and skills as a marketing intern. I decided to take a closer look into what got Dana and Ashley started in business and the experiences they've had while pursuing the goals I hope to pursue one day as well.
Q: What is your background in business?
D: I studied International Business and Marketing at the University of Richmond. My first job out of college was Accenture (Anderson Consulting) which gave me the opportunity to learn about different types of businesses and different roles which took me to San Francisco, where I lived for 20 years and was immersed in the tech world.
A: My undergraduate degree is in nursing, but I come from a family filled with entrepreneurs. In elementary school, I started a club where we made and sold paper fortune tellers to other students, and I was working on marketing techniques, profit margins, etc. We were quickly shut down by the school principal, but I think that I always had an entrepreneurial spirit inside of me! After being a stay-at-home parent for a few years, I decided that I was interested in business and worked for a company that did marketing for luxury hotels before deciding that I wanted to start a company that made a positive change in people's lives. Because I didn't have a background in business, I learned as much as I could from reading books, listening to podcasts, and taking online courses.
Q: What sparked your interest in creating a business?
D: I'm a problem solver and love building things including businesses. i am motivated by challenges and the adrenaline of starting a business. Fayvor is the second company I've co-founded but most of my career has been working with start-ups in rapid growth modes.
A: I was very disturbed by what was happening to our nation politically, and wanted to create something where I could actually bring people together. When I was a stay-at-home parent, I also noticed that there were many parents who were well-educated and very talented, but were feeling isolated and detached from their communities. Many parents that I spoke with wanted a way to earn extra income and engage with other people at the same time. Because their primary focus is taking care of their families, they have to find opportunities that accept their need for flexible scheduling. Many women turn to multi-level marketing companies when they hear the promises of financial freedom, flexibility, and more time with friends. Unfortunately, many of these women never make any money and are unhappy in the end. I wanted to create a business with a great culture that gives people the opportunity to engage with others in their community while also earning extra income for their families. I truly believe that Fayvor is successful because it celebrates the human spirit first.
Q: What motivates you to continue working hard in order to develop your business?
D: Fayvor has a mission that is extremely close to my heart and was founded by Ashley and I to address problems we experienced personally. knowing that we are solving stressful problems with no alternative solutions is very motivating.
A: I work hard because I have been given an opportunity that very few people get in life. Not everyone has the means to start a company from scratch, and I don't take this opportunity lightly. I want to create a business that empowers people to brighten someone's day and allows people to maintain their independence. If I don't give this company my all, I will be letting our clients and care providers down, and I don't want them to have a mediocre experience. I am also working hard to show my sons that success comes with hard work and determination. I want them to be proud of their mother. Ultimately, I want people to look at me and think that I worked hard to make this world a better, kinder place.
Q: Describe your experience in business as a woman in a male-dominated field. Do you notice a difference and/or see another view in the field than men would?
D: Much of my career was in enterprise sales in technology in San Francisco - which is mostly men. I grew up a tom-boy and managed pretty well. in fact, sometimes in sales, it helped me get a meeting, but often men refused to negotiate with women, which was frustrating. It's unfortunate that women have 'more to prove' then men. we need to dig ourselves out of a perceived hole to get on equal footing with men.A: I was recently sitting on a forum where I was the only woman on the panel (There were a total of 10 people on the panel). I know that in those moments, I am speaking for all women, and that can be stressful. I try extra hard to be knowledgeable about a subject and to always be professional. With that said, I have been fortunate to have great men in my network who don't just view me as a woman or a statistic, but as a talented person with a lot to offer.
Q: What are some tips and/or advice you would give to someone who might be interested in starting a business in something they're passionate about?
D: My advice is to test it out in the real world before you pour your life into a direction. Your passions aren't always well set up for a business. I'm a passionate scuba diver and worked as a dive master for awhile until I decided that I preferred to dive on holiday and work in business. I volunteered for the UN in Africa because I was interested in international NGOs and the UN. Supporting a refugee camp in Tanzania was an amazing experience but I preferred the fast pace of technology. Most people's careers take a lot of unexpected twists and turns through their personal and professional network. Surround yourself with amazing people and take risks when you can.
A: Make sure you do your research. Talk to potential customers before creating a product or service and really listen to their pain points and problems. Also, set up hard goals for yourself. For example, my business will be profitable in 14 months or I will take a different path. Those types of goals not only keep you from wasting time and money, but keep you motivated to achieve your dreams.
Learning from them fueled my interest in business, as well as helped me realize I want to break the glass ceiling and further the notion that women, too, can be strong in the business field the way Dana and Ashley have.