This Houstonian is delivering global resources to the startup community
Since she was 10 years old, Aliceco-founder Carolyn Rodz has kept a notebook of business ideas next to her bed. It's no surprise, then, that she grew up to run a company that helps entrepreneurs succeed.
Alice — which began life as Circular Board, the world's first 100-percent virtual accelerator — sifts through thousands of resources to recommend opportunities, events, tools, networks, and advice, all specifically tailored to the user's business.
"Alice is the answer to what I wish I would have had when I started my first company over 12 years ago," says Rodz. "As a college-educated woman, in the fourth-largest city in the most developed country on the planet, I realized that if I didn't have the resources I needed to succeed, what was it like for most entrepreneurs?"
Rodz founded Alice in 2016, and since then it has served nearly 300 women on six continents, helping them to collectively raise over $35 million. Companies that use it include a solar bike manufacturer in London, a chain of senior healthcare facilities in Mongolia, a breast milk bank in Nevada, and wearable technology based in the heart of San Francisco.
"The idea that technology could democratize access to the innovation economy for women, minorities, and underserved entrepreneurs inspires our team every day to build the tools that will help companies grow and impact the world," says Rodz.
So how does this "road map through the startup landscape" work? You begin by creating a profile, and as Alice learns more about you and your company, she gets smarter in personalizing which content will be most helpful to you. You can also search for answers to your toughest business questions at any time of day, from anywhere in the world.
Besides the network that grows from each entrepreneur that uses it, Alice expands through partnerships with government institutions, Fortune 100 companies, startup organizations, and industry leaders. From those at the center of technology hubs to rural farmers, each is helping to build the largest digital map of entrepreneurial resources.
One of Rodz's best pieces of advice, one which she certainly followed with her Houston-based business, is to grow your team quickly.
"Often founders think because they don't have the money to hire an employee, they have to build a company alone, but a team involves so much more than paid employees," she says. "It also includes partners, investors, co-founders, and even your customers who can support and advocate for your growth."
And those who can help your business might come from anywhere. Rodz grew up spending her summers in Bolivia, where her family is originally from, and credits travel as one of the reasons why Alice operates worldwide.
"Seeing such a wide gap between those with money and those without embedded a deep responsibility in me to leave the world better than I found it," says Rodz. "I'm so grateful to be able to make a living doing just that through Alice."