Just a few of Aniyia’s accomplishments:
- Penn State Graduate, majoring in Music, and minoring in Business & Italian
- Founder of Black & Brown Founders
- Co-Founder of Zebras Unite
- Creator of The Dipper, fashionable, usable headphones
Want to learn more? Just take a look at her website.
In her discussion, Aniyia Williams laid out the three steps it takes to create a start-up, assuming “you’re doing this the scrappy way and with modest resources.” We’ve laid out the core of what we heard and learned from Aniyia.
Part 1: Gather People & Gather Info
“Honestly, the biggest barrier to starting a company is you.”
- To start a company, you have to be trying to solve a problem. In Aniyia’s words “you should be solving a problem for a community you’re from or have meaningful access to.” this is extremely important. The only way for you to come up with an effective solution means you need to completely and deeply understand the community and who you’ll eventually be selling to.
- Decide your end goal, so you can be running the business that you want to in five or ten or fifteen years. Dig deep into your personal uniqueness and what you bring to the table to solve the problem you have identified.
Part 2: Prototype and Monetize
“What is the basic bare-bones thing that you can sell and you can make money from today?”
- Make a prediction about what the solution might look like – build the bare bones of what that would look like. Build that prototype and deliver on the product you’re promising your customer.
- Pulling from Tara Reed, owner of Apps Without Code, Aniyia asks herself these questions:
- Does anyone want this?
- Will they pay you money for it?
- Why are they paying you money?
Part 3: Listen and Iterate (& Pivot If Needed)
“Iterating never ends.”
- Strong feedback loops are essential in this stage. To figure out if a product is working, you need the data to see if your product is solving the problem it set out to solve.
- “Happiness is actually not having it all. It is letting go of what you don’t need. So get rid of the stuff that’s not working and double down on what does.”
A Few Other Tips from Aniyia:
- Don’t Boil the Ocean: Get specific with the problem you’re trying to solve, don’t
- Don’t Do It Alone: lean on others, learn from others, and grow with others.
- Always Be Learning & Failure is Always an Option: although failure is not ideal, it’s the way to learn and be open to learning always.
After her keynote address, Aniyia sat down with our very own Carson Crochet ‘22, creator of CAbuddy, for a more in-depth chat. As a student herself, Carson’s questions focused on where to find resources and how to move forward without necessarily having a degree in business. The three things to take away from Carson & Aniyia’s chat:
- Perfection can cripple you. Aniyia labeled herself a “recovering perfectionist,” but at a certain point, you’ve got to let go and just go for it.
- In discussing failure and her relationship to it, an important lesson to learn is not only being ok with hearing no but also realizing that sometimes a ‘no’ is simply a way of saying “I don’t know how to solve that” or “that creates too much work for me.” And if you can solve and work your way around that problem, that ‘no’ can become a yes.
- Finally, love and human connection are more important than the money being made or the products being sold. “Humans are born with an inherent need to be loved, and once they learn how, to give love.”