QuickHire founders raised $1.4 million—their best career advice
Deborah Gladney, 34 and Angela Muhwezi Hall, 32 are members of a small but growing clubBlack women founders worth millions of dollars
QuickHire is a platform for connecting workers with skilled-trade and service jobs. QuickHire was founded by the sisters. QuickHire received its first funding in November. $1.41 millionIn an oversubscribed round, Gladney and Muhwezi Hall were the first Black Kansas women to raise more than $1 million in funding. according to AfroTech.
This feat is impressive for all entrepreneurs, especially considering that Black women founders of startups received only 0.34% from the $147 billion of venture capital in the United States during the first half 2021. according to Crunchbase.
Gladney, who was expecting her third child in March 2020 when the sisters launched their venture, was also pregnant. Muhwezi Hall ended up being admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 after she contracted it. The pandemic was uncertain, they experienced racial unrest in the George Floyd protests and were penny-pinched to put $50,000 of their savings into fundraising. QuickHire was first launched as a beta in 2020. In April 2021, a final version of QuickHire was made available to the general public.
QuickHire today matches over 11,000 job-seekers with 60 jobs in mid-sized to large-sized service companies throughout the Wichita (Kansas) and Kansas City areas. During the Great Resignation, QuickHire data is also proving how businesses must provide better jobs to the working class — jobs with good pay, stable hours, health insurance and future careers — if they ever hope to fill openings.
CNBC Make It interviewed the sisters to get their top career tips and learn how they launched their first business worth $1,000,000.
Gladney took the best piece of career advice from her former boss. “Don’t let anyone see that you sweat.”
Gladney claims, “There is so much power not giving other people control in the knowledge that they have won every situation over you.”
Gladney says the experience of pitching QuickHire and raising money hasn’t been without experiencing bias and microaggressions — situations “where people have said or done something where, if we’d shown them they got to us, I think they would have succeeded in stopping us.”
Gladney recalls feeling “every deck against us” when pitching to investors. After applying to accelerator programs but being turned down, Gladney said that it had left a negative impression on their minds. We weren’t clear on the reasons we were rejected. We wondered if this was due to the fact that we are Black women who do these things.
This is a common scenario for founders and women of color. in the VC worldThe majority of the investors in this sector are white men. “We knew we couldn’t raise funds if we made it more comfortable, so we felt we had to have more revenue. [investors]Gladney said, “We are willing to give you a shot.”
Gladney, Muhwezi Hall nearly quit trying to get in an accelerator program before they got a motivating meeting from a TechStars Iowa managing director. Their growth was rapid after they were accepted into the accelerator.
Gladney said that she relies on her family, which includes her brother, husband, and father to help her manage all the difficulties of being Black woman founders in tech.
“They get everything from me,” she said. “But it helps me go outside and fight for the world.”
Muhwezi Hall believes that “go to Grow” is the most important advice she received.
“Sometimes it’s necessary for us to move out of our comfort zones in order to discover opportunities to advance in our lives, particularly in the field of careers,” she said. It is important to risk taking a chance with yourself.
Muhwezi Hall’s part is that the seeds of QuickHire actually came from 2017 when she was working as a career and college counselor in a Los Angeles high-school. While she had many resources for those who were going to college, there was not much for students looking for service jobs or skilled trade careers. It was roughly 108 million people, or 71% of the labor force, work in the service sector — why weren’t there better ways to connect them with stable careers other than filling out paper job applications?
Muhwezi Hall said that she and Gladney had sat down on this idea for years. Gladney also encouraged Muhwezi Hall that they bring the idea to fruition. Her idea was reprioritized because she witnessed the severity of the pandemic and saw many millions of workers go without work.
Gladney and Muhwezi Hall started work on QuickHire’s construction in March 2020. Muhwezi Hall moved from Los Angeles with her husband in August to Gladney’s Wichita basement, Kansas for seven months. Muhwezi Hall and her husband moved to Chicago in the meantime. The sisters now work remotely as well as during visits.
She says, “At some stage you must move.” And if it’s not your fear to move, then you won’t be able to grow. That’s why I believe that you have to do everything to be able to grow.
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