As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ronit Enos.
Ronit Enos is an award-winning ideation coach, public speaker and business strategist practicing innovative approaches that allow entrepreneurs to achieve optimal freedom and success. Salon Cadence is her unique program that teaches owners how to manage cash flow, and gain clarity and confidence on how to run their business. Her philosophy allows owners to reduce time scheduled behind the chair and focus 85% of efforts on business development to achieve financial freedom and success. Coaching/mentoring, workshops and speaking engagements available on ronitenos.com. Facebook: @RonitEnosProfits; Instagram: @RonitEnosSalonssProfits; YouTube: @RonitEnos.
Accolades: Certified Business Coach, Strategies, Inc.; Certified Career and Profit Coach, Profit First; Mentor, Judge and Ideation Coach, Hult International Business School; Advisor, Sixpence; Business Development Advisor, Hair to Stay.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
People have always intrigued me, especially innovators, big dreamers and thinkers. Watching their ideas come alive is what excites me and compels me to be part of their team to help them grow and see their lives change for the better. That is why I coach and mentor startups.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
When I started my second company, I was looking for a charity we could support that spoke to us. One of our guests told us an amazing story about a mother who was crying. She approached her priest in her church in Esquipula, Guatemala, and the priest asked her, “Why are you crying?” The mother broke down and told him that her baby was sick and she needed medicine for him, but her children were hungry and she chose to buy bread and feed her children instead. She thought her little baby would get better, but he didn’t. No one should have to make a choice like that, medicine and food should be available. Years later, Medicines for Humanity was born, a non profit that builds an infrastructure for villages in third world, poor countries. They build small pharmacies with basic medicine and training on how to help the sick. I knew this was our new nonprofit that we would support. I flew to Guatemala to see the operation and we went to the mountains, villages and saw those amazing women managing and building pharmacies and job opportunities.The stories of these women and the idea of how to sustain and build medical systems blew my mind. Ideas that changed the world, couldn’t be more grateful to be part of that magic and humbly support it.
Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?
The idea is based on an incredibly new way of fundraising and giving: “roundup crowdfunding”. Do you know the #1 reason why people fail to give to causes that they otherwise support? Financial limitations. Basically, cost perception. Another leading reason is they feel that the amount they can afford isn’t enough to matter, something we call “futility thinking”.
Now, of course enough of any amount can be truly world changing. One million people giving only $1 is still $1 million, and a lot of good can be done with that. However, it’s hard to drive that perception shift. The genius is that this is exactly what Sixpencedoes.
How do you think this will change the world?
By allowing people to give with roundups on their daily purchases, and to give these roundups to the causes of friends, family and neighbors (instead of only non-profits). Sixpence removes the upfront cost from giving and allows communities to come together financially in ways that have never been possible before.
Imagine no more schools needing to do product fundraisers every quarter to raise a few hundred or thousand dollars, half of which goes to the product. Instead, at the beginning of the school year they just get parents to sign and start contributing their roundups. The upfront cost is nil, but the school now has consistently recurring fundraised income that’s dependable.
It’s not just schools that can benefit from this, so too could neighbors raising funds for a new park. So could animal shelters, soup kitchens, churches and mosques and synagogues. We’re talking about changing recurring giving across the board, at both a community and organizational level.
The interest even extends beyond the U.S., while showcasing Sixpence at Web Summit in Lisbon last year, they received interest in versions for Germany, the UK, Portugal, Colombia, and even India. Anywhere that money is spent and funds are raised, this can enable easier giving.
This is something that the team has been very cautious about. For now, the Sixpence team has terms that allow them to terminate any cause at any time for any reason. Political causes are also not allowed. Easy fundraising for good causes is, obviously, a good thing. But, as we’ve seen in recent years, it’s all too easy for fringe elements to make use of an innovative technology to advance hateful, divisive and dangerous ideas and platforms.
The team wants Sixpence to essentially evolve into a “generosity social media,” on which people can discover, interact with, easily donate to, and consistently keep updated on the things that matter to them. For some people, those things are less than savory. We’re generally all about connecting communities, but the connection of some “communities” will only serve to damage and divide others. The potential for fraud and fake profiles is definitely a real thing to be cautious about as well. These are concerns that have kept the Sixpence team up at night, especially after seeing a platform as powerful as Facebook fall prey to bad actors’ machinations in recent years.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
The idea for Sixpence actually originated with our Founder, Christopher Haylett. He came up with the concept while struggling to fundraise himself. He was a Global Development student in Seattle and was going to volunteer for a summer in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. He needed to raise $5K to cover costs of travel, lodging, food and other living necessities during his time there. After raising about $3K, he’d hit a difficult stopping point. He still had roughly $2K left to raise, but he’d exhausted most of his personal network.
Living on a college campus, he was trying to think of ways he could fundraise small amounts from his plethora of college friends. Even $2 from all of his friends on Facebook would be enough to hit his target. The challenge there lay in somehow convincing everyone he knew that donating $2 was really worth the slight amount of time and effort.
One day he found out about Acorns, which allows people to invest with roundups on their daily purchases. Immediately, he saw the potential for using this “roundup model” for his crowdfunding. So, Christopher did a quick Google search for “roundup crowdfunding platform” to find a platform that could facilitate fundraising in this sort of way. After clicking through a few pages, it was quickly apparent that nothing like this yet existed. Four years later, Christopher put together the Sixpence team while in grad school. Inspired that there was still no “roundup crowdfunding” platform, his team set to work straightaway. And here we are now, on the cusp of a revolution in giving and community.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
The key is for people to begin using this for their fundraising needs, especially for ongoing causes. In America, we have certain “pillars of community”: schools, religious institutions, universities, media; places that people gather, go to, or engage on a regular basis in their daily lives. Sixpence needs to first be adopted by these pillars. From there, parents, congregants, college students, radio listeners and others can discover that they can use Sixpence for their own needs and fundraising purposes. However, we believe that adoption by those key “pillars” will need to come first.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
I asked Christopher Haylett, founder of SixpenceApp, and this is what he said.
1. One of the most important things you can do is be at the right place at the right time. Get out and in conversations, especially ones that allow you to talk about your ideas, as often as possible. Even if it seems like a lot of seized opportunities are duds, you never know where you’ll meet your next cofounder, investor, or advisor. I met my CTO at a grad school party. Our first investor was someone who happened to sit by me in an arena full of roughly 20,000 people at a tech conference. Get out, meet people, and see what happens.
2. You can’t do it all. I’m a bit of a jack of all trades, which caused me to take a while to learn this one. For a long time, I didn’t do quite everything (our CTO is almost entirely responsible for our technical product), but I kept just about everything outside of tech under my own responsibilities. It wasn’t until several months in that I fully fleshed out my team and started delegating. A lot more got done once I learned to depend on others/found others who were dependable.
3. You can start with one feature, but make sure that you quickly build it into a completely unique product/platform. I first had the idea for Sixpence several years ago. At that time, a venture capitalist gave me feedback that the idea of roundup giving sounded like a feature, not a platform. Now, while I don’t think that feedback alone was especially helpful or accurate, I do now understand that my team has to build so much more than “just” a roundup giving feature. We’ve since seized on a brand we want to be, a culture we want to create, and a mission we want to further. Roundup giving is a part of all of this, but it’s now merely one of many mediums helping us to change how people give and how communities build meaningful connections.
4. Find early allies among your customers. Everyone likes an underdog. It’s part of the American psyche to root for the up-and-comer. If you approach individuals in your target market in the early days, sharing your vision, what you want to accomplish for them, and how they can help, a lot of people will be willing to help. Realize that this is a window of opportunity that won’t be eternal. Step out of your comfort zone and seize it when you can.
5.Don’t shy away from sharing your vision. Initially in conversations with people in investment and accelerator ecosystems, I tended to mostly share my most immediate goals and visions. “We want to have X developed by March, we’re targeting Y users by May, we are seeing Z rate of growth.” While showing numbers can be a good thing, investors and accelerator judges are people too. If you tell them how you’re going to change the world and can draw a clear path from now to that point, of course it will excite them. I’ve now learned to share our immediate goals and traction and the big picture of how we’re going to fundamentally change giving and communities in the world.
The future of work is a common theme. What can one do to “future proof” their career?
“Future Proof” Ha! Best thing is in the beginning follow your heart, work for what makes you tick, what makes you feel valued, don’t chase the money…it will come, choose every position carefully and ask yourself if it matches your values and lets you grow. Sometime you will fall on your face, that’s ok, sometimes it will take a longer time, that’s ok, but it will never be hard, because you followed your heart.
Based on the future trends in your industry, if you had a million dollars, what would you invest in?
Sixpence, of course. Kidding, well, kind of. Crowdfunding is an extremely promising industry. The category itself is expected to annually grow by roughly 17% over the next three years. However, it is not what it will be. The industry is changing. People are increasingly moving away from old models of crowdfunding and towards new innovations, such as equity crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, and (we hope) roundups.
Additionally, much of this space is becoming more local. The success of GoFundMe and other social crowdfunding platforms was based significantly on giving to strangers. However, I believe that the future of giving, and the future of a lot of other aspects of American life, will be tighter and closer to home. As what we can do with our money becomes more democratized, more varied, people will begin to contribute their money more and more to the things that actually matter to them; to the nonprofit behind their child’s sports league or to the pizzeria they love that’s trying to build a new restaurant. I’d invest in platforms facilitating these evolutions in community, investment, giving, and loans.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
How can I serve better today, give 100% all in.
Have goals, enjoy friends and family, be the best friend you can be, and later in life learn how you can help more.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
Have unlimited beliefs, practice morning gratitude, work hard and play hard, eat well and clean, surround yourself with good mentors/advisors and be consistent and flexible. Learn and read and share your knowledge, most of all, save money and have positive cashflow. Profit is king or queen.
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?
Some people say we’re at the peak of an economic cycle. I don’t know if that’s true for sure or not, but I do know that Sixpence is likely to thrive whether the economy is hot or cold. When times are good, people donate more. People are quick to adopt new things and are less cautious with what they give to.
Now, when times are bad, people may generally cut down on their donation budgets, but those who need donations also need to figure out new ways to raise support and keep their donors, i.e. roundup crowdfunding. Beyond that, on a community level, people would need ways to support their friends and family while also on tight budgets themselves.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Please follow Sixpence and see it grow: https://www.facebook.com/sixpenceapp