Founder Profile

Lee Mayer

Havenly

For making it easier to redesign your home.

Over the last year, while the world was in lockdown, one thing became apparent: Many of us realized our homes were not designed to spend so much time inside of them. “During the pandemic, all of those projects that we've been putting off have become important now that our homes have become more front and center in our lives," says Lee Mayer, CEO, and founder of Havenly, an online interior design service, which saw an incredible surge in business in the past year. "There was an opportunity to provide a service for individuals--as they think about buying or redecorating their home--to help them design the home that they love, that matches their needs within their budget.” Mayer started Havenly in 2014 after she attempted to redecorate her home and felt incredibly overwhelmed by an overabundance of information--and couldn’t afford an interior designer. Havenly designs thousands of rooms per year, and its affordable e-commerce platform is connected to hundreds of retailers so clients can make direct purchases.--Teneshia Carr

Company Information
Location
Denver, Colorado
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Dawn Dickson-Akpoghene

PopCom

For giving retailers a smarter, touchless way to sell

"Covid was both a blessing and a curse for Dawn Dickson-Akpoghene, founder and CEO of PopCom. She founded the company back in 2017 on the notion that vending machines and kiosks ought to be able to give retailers a clearer picture of their customers' buying habits. So her company's automated pop-up shops give companies the ability to monitor inventory, track customer conversion rates, and even analyze a person's emotions as they browse through products--all without involving a sales person. When Covid hit and retailers needed to find a way to keep selling without putting employees or customers at risk, PopCom's kiosks gained new appeal. "Vending machines were deemed 'essential businesses' around the world as retailers scrambled for touchless retail and contactless delivery solutions," Dickson-Akpoghene says. "We signed up a lot of new customers in 2020 and beginning of 2021."

The problem? PopCom's machines were manufactured in China prior to the pandemic and so the company's supply chain shut down. "I lived in Hong Kong and spent years developing a relationship with a great manufacturing partner. Literally in a month everything we worked on was uncertain. I had to act immediately to save my company," she says.

PopCom moved manufacturing to Connecticut, a costly but essential move. While the making of the machines came to a standstill, the company focused on building up its list of venue partnerships. Pre-Covid, PopCom projected revenue for 2021 at $5.5 million; the reality will be more like $1 million because of the delays. "But on the flip side, we now have a whole pipeline of customers ready to work with us and now the market is ready," Dickson-Akpoghene says.

This year, PopCom, which has raised $4.5 million in funding to date mostly through equity crowdfunding, is pressing into highly regulated markets like alcohol and cannabis. The company signed a major global wine seller as a customer and will plant its kiosks soon in entertainment venues. As Dickson-Akpoghene reflects on what the company has gone through, the takeaway for her is clear: "You have to be OK completely changing everything you know as long as your goal is met."

Company Information
Year Founded
2017
Location
Columbus, Ohio
Industry
Business products and services
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

"Covid was both a blessing and a curse for Dawn Dickson-Akpoghene, founder and CEO of PopCom. She founded the company back in 2017 on the notion that vending machines and kiosks ought to be able to give retailers a clearer picture of their customers' buying habits. So her company's automated pop-up shops give companies the ability to monitor inventory, track customer conversion rates, and even analyze a person's emotions as they browse through products--all without involving a sales person. When Covid hit and retailers needed to find a way to keep selling without putting employees or customers at risk, PopCom's kiosks gained new appeal. "Vending machines were deemed 'essential businesses' around the world as retailers scrambled for touchless retail and contactless delivery solutions," Dickson-Akpoghene says. "We signed up a lot of new customers in 2020 and beginning of 2021."

The problem? PopCom's machines were manufactured in China prior to the pandemic and so the company's supply chain shut down. "I lived in Hong Kong and spent years developing a relationship with a great manufacturing partner. Literally in a month everything we worked on was uncertain. I had to act immediately to save my company," she says.

PopCom moved manufacturing to Connecticut, a costly but essential move. While the making of the machines came to a standstill, the company focused on building up its list of venue partnerships. Pre-Covid, PopCom projected revenue for 2021 at $5.5 million; the reality will be more like $1 million because of the delays. "But on the flip side, we now have a whole pipeline of customers ready to work with us and now the market is ready," Dickson-Akpoghene says.

This year, PopCom, which has raised $4.5 million in funding to date mostly throug

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