By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“We call ourselves the streetfighters,” Kerry Schrader says in describing the dynamic mother and daughter team that is unwilling to take “no” for an answer as they stand-up a company named Mixtroz. Her partner is daughter Ashlee Ammons.
Not only are they minority female entrepreneurs in a largely male-dominated entrepreneurial world, but they are also non-techies promoting a technology solution. In their case, it’s an app that helps live event attendees easily connect and engage with one another while helping the event host learn more about attendees based on the responses to customized questions.
We were first introduced to the scrappy and very engaging Middle Tennessee-based duo during the 2016 “GIGTANK 365” accelerator run by Chattanooga’s CO.LAB. Our first article about Mixtroz is here. We caught-up with Schrader and Ammons a few weeks ago when they were competing in the finals for the inaugural “Nashville Startup Week” pitch event.
“Are we moving the needle at all,” Schrader says people ask? Her response, not surprisingly, is a resounding “yes.”
To prove the point, she cites five events immediately after “GIGTANK 365” where they generated $14,000 in revenue in five weeks and generated follow-up users. In addition, the team released Version 2 of the app a few weeks ago, participated in events like “Nashville Startup Week” TEDx Nashville and iFundWomen Nashville, and are awaiting word on a still-to-be-determined pitch opportunity with ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
The launch of the new app involved beta events at three Nashville colleges – Fisk, Tennessee State and Vanderbilt.
Ammons says the biggest value of the “GIGTANK 365” experience was streamlining their message.
“We’re selling to event organizers,” she says, describing the value proposition as two-fold – “mix, meet and mingle” live, in real time for the attendees and their employers and “collecting data” for the event host. The Mixtroz app helps turn business card exchanges into more actionable connections, while simultaneously being what Ammons describes as a “great value add to a title sponsor.”
A little more than 28 months after founding Mixtroz, the Co-Founders note that all the progress has occurred without any external funding other than revenue from events. By Schrader’s estimate, there is about $200,000 of “friends and family” investment in the business.
Potential investors in any start-up frequently ask how committed are the founders? These ladies are all in.
“We’re doing exactly what Airbnb did . . . driving money from wherever back into the business,” Schrader says, noting they are frequent speakers at events and direct all of the fees they generate back into Mixtroz. She was a corporate human resources executive, while Ammons was a Senior Event Producer in New York City before relocating to Tennessee. Their respective experience has opened speaking opportunities, but their passion is accelerating the growth of Mixtroz.
“We need $600,000 to do so,” Schrader says. “No one has told us we’re crazy. In fact, we hear the exact opposite! So, we’re ready to scale and sell into our three entry verticals in hopes of securing our next round of angel investment dollars.”
But until then, they’ll keep “hustling” to make Mixtroz a success. And they are making great progress as evidenced by this recent article in Forbes. With their passion, camaraderie and teamwork, we have no doubt they’ll succeed.