Hello Alice: A Small Business’ Best Friend
March 8, 2021 | Ashley Brindamour
About 20% of U.S. small businesses fail within their first year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A lack of business support is one of the key factors contributing to this failure rate. Alumni Ventures portfolio company Hello Alice is helping solve this problem by offering small business owners (SBOs) an enterprise/government SaaS marketplace of direct networks to help them grow and flourish.
Alice’s vision is to develop a single gateway to vast opportunities for SBOs. The platform offers beneficial features for both business owners and enterprise customers, leaving Alice well-positioned across multiple markets.
A Multi-Sided Market
For small business owners, Alice uses machine learning to provide automatic and personalized bundles of resources that are directly relevant to the demographic, location, business size, and industry of the owner.
Some of the services Hello Alice offers small business owners are:
- A free digital advisor offering company launch and growth support through live updates curated specifically to their business
- Relevant content, events, networks, services, and financial opportunities
- Time-saving tools, financial opportunities/discounts, and current events
- 150 essential guides of content recommended by Alice’s AI engine
- The opportunity to introduce trusted vendors onto the Alice platform, as well as gather information from the community on recommended vendors
Hello Alice is also focused on supporting businesses with diverse founding teams. The company recently joined forces with the NAACP to create the Black-owned Business Center to help support the growth and advancement of minority-owned businesses.
Alice currently focuses on SaaS businesses for revenue. The company offers its dashboards and SBO data to enterprise businesses like Dell, Salesforce, and MasterCard — who then use these insights to hone their marketing and sales strategies targeted towards small businesses.
What We Liked About the Deal
We were impressed by several aspects of the company and investment opportunity:
Well-Matched Lead Investor: SVB Capital understands the pain points of small and medium businesses and sees how Alice can be a true asset. Furthermore, SVB is uniquely well-positioned to understand the needs and benefits of a single point of payment checkout system for SBOs and will be able to provide important guidance to the team through this offering.
Growing User Base: Alice has built a large user base with no marketing spend. The team is dynamic and has attracted a high volume of organic press.
Driven Co-Founders: Co-founder and CEO Carolyn Rodz was recognized as a “17 Women to Watch” by Inc. in 2017, has testified before the U.S.Congressional House Small Business Committee, and was featured in Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s Senate report “Tackling the Gender Gap: What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Thrive.” Rodz has also been featured in Inc., Forbes, Fortune, and more for her work in building entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Additionally, the company’s co-founder and president, Elizabeth Gore, served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Dell Technologies, where she focused on initiatives that would help small and medium businesses worldwide scale and prosper. Elizabeth has been named by Fast Company as one of the “Most Creative People in Business” and was recognized as a “Women to Watch” by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2016.