Hey, women need hacker houses too! They’ve been popping back up left and right thanks to the “new normal” of remote work and entrepreneurship growing in popularity. Coco Sack and Kendall Titus, who are only college juniors, started the Womxn Ignite house for women and women-identifying undergrads.

It sounds unnecessary but the fact is there’s a gap in the market for assisting women in tech who are just getting their start. Meanwhile, plenty of programs already exist for high school kids learning to code or women who are established in their careers and have already founded a company.

Womxn Ignite targets women who are taking a gap year and acts like a live-in incubator. Women in the house are put on teams based on areas of interest and are then given a problem they have to solve. Don’t worry, they get help with multiple mentorship sessions through the week and guest speakers like Melinda Gates. Each team presents their progress weekly and the goal is to have everyone leave with an idea of how they could start a business, not necessarily walk out with a business.

The other bonus is the program only costs $5,000 per head and most participants pay their way with scholarships from investors. Since most women are headed back to school after the program, they’re asked (optionally) to gift 1% of their annual income over five years to Womxn Ignite’s syndicate fund (rather than a focus on first checks or demo days like most accelerators these days). This will help infiltrate the VC world with the women investors it currently lacks. 

Wines Are Winning

Most wineries have struggled majorly this year due to the pandemic. Not because people aren’t buying wine, but a lot of them rely on venue bookings and in-person wine tastings which have been basically off the table this year. Willamette Valley Vineyards, however, has increased sales and hired 32 more employees even though the main part of their business (tasting rooms and their restaurant) shut down this year.

How’d they do it? Willamette pushed forward their ambassador program which gives customers an elevated, personal, concierge-like service. Since people couldn’t come into the tasting room for that type of experience, the staff at the tasting room transitioned to support the ambassador program. This isn’t just the “we claim we’re personal because we use your first name” type of program, either. The Ambassadors know details as far as a customer’s anniversary, children’s birthdays, etc. They try as much as they can to focus on celebration.

To increase sales with the program, Ambassadors can make calls, text, host wine tastings or virtual retreats over Zoom, and deliver wine to a customer’s door personally while reaching for referrals. Willamette’s CEO says, “Our customers are more than customers, they’re brand champions and they’re industry champions. They want to support their aspirational goals for our state and for our valley.”

Guess it helps when everyone’s on board with the company and you can drive new sales from the customers who are already in love with your business and product.

What inspiring stories have you heard this year of small businesses pivoting toward more success? Hit reply. We’d love to know!

Marketing for $50,000 vs. $250,000

That’s not marketing spend, that’s marketing profit. Helena Sula used to make $50,000 annually as a marketing specialist at a mid-sized company, but thanks to an accident rock climbing and deciding to start a blog as a side hobby, she now makes over $250,000 as a freelancer.

Basically, Helena wasn’t able to work for six months after she fell 20 feet rock climbing and broke her ankle and leg. On top of it, she got pneumonia, was blacking out, and essentially couldn’t work. Eventually she was able to “get back on her feet” (pun intended) and work remotely, but with all that flexibility she started a website and failed miserably at selling t-shirts.

Clearly that wasn’t the path cut out for her, so she instead made a legitimate business plan and decided to sell online courses and classes, become an affiliate marketer, use display ads on her website and generate sales from a few other offers like coaching sessions. She only spent $100 developing her first course (Instagram for Success), but started selling it for $87 (it now sells at $227) and made $15,000 in one month.

Last year, she made $150,000 from that same course alone, but it wasn’t an overnight success. Helena put in the serious leg work of building her audience, surveying them to decide a price-point and what to include in her offer, and getting people to sign up for a free course which got them on her email list. Now her list is up to 110,000 emails and she uses segmentation, referral marketing and a few freebie offers to keep it growing.

No matter what you’re doing in your company or career, there’s always room at the table for you to diversify your income! Have you thought of starting a new business or side hustle? Hit reply and tell us about it!

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