My Native Admission Statement: I am a doer and I have been all my life. I don’t have a 50% setting. I am at 0 or 100 at all times. In 7th grade I was cut from cheerleading and it was not a good feeling. From that moment I knew I’d do everything in my power to not feel that way again. Since then I’ve become a varsity cheerleader in college, LeBron James’ 1st intern, thrown events for celebs like Oprah and Leonardo DiCaprio, started a tech company (as a casual tech consumer), and raised $1M+ in pre-seed funding making me the 38th Black Female to do so in the US. I wasn’t born this way, but with the support of those closest to me, I’ve made sure I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do. - https://www.mixtroz.com/
Bio: Ashlee Ammons, Co-founder and President of Mixtroz. Mixtroz was founded in 2015 by Ashlee and her mom, Kerry Schrader. Mixtroz is a software company that creates a community anywhere that 50 or more people are gathered using the power of technology coupled with face-to-face engagement. Following remarkable progress in 2017, Team Mixtroz kicked off 2018 by joining Alabama’s prestigious Velocity Accelerator. In May 2018, the duo was selected to pitch to AOL Co-Founder Steve Case during the Rise of the Rest® tour stop in Birmingham, AL and secured a $100,000 investment from Cases’ Revolution Fund. The team went on to close a $1M round of funding, making them the 37th and 38th black females to ever close a million-dollar round of funding.
How did you get into the industry?
In 2014, I went to a conference to network and I experienced first-hand with how awkward it is to make real connections with people in the digital age. At the time, I was working in the hospitality industry and wanted to meet people in industries like beauty and fashion. At this event, attendees were told to make personal connections with people based on them having the same color dot on their nametag. This process was so clumsy that I didn’t participate. I talked to my mom about it later that same day and together we decided there had to be a better way for people to meet authentically. Over the course of a night, Mixtroz was born.
Any emerging industry trends?
In the tech space, there is a focus on REAL connectivity. If you look at the biggest tech brands in the world from Uber to Facebook, there is a push to bring the human side back to tech. This is at the core of Mixtroz. We use tech to improve upon the world's oldest art, face-to-face connection. When I see these tech giants pushing this message it reassures me that at Mixtroz we are right on track.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
At times, the tech industry develops products in the order of tech first and humans later. In doing so, they fail to really consider whether the product works to make human life simpler, better and more satisfying. If you are in the tech space, you must truly know your customer and you need to build not only for what they will purchase but also will continue to use. It is important to spend the time, especially in the beginning, learning in the field from your customers. My mom and I attended hundreds of Mixtroz events prior to becoming a true SaaS platform and that continues to pay off and guide the way we move our business forward.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
In a word, growth. We have crossed the threshold from startup to growth stage company. We have built an incredibly sharp and diverse team and while we all have our specialties, we are all dedicated to growing revenue.
We’ve recently rolled out new pricing to accommodate customers’ requests for unlimited mixes annually and we’ve seen our Enterprise customers bustling to buy. In addition, where we started this company as an event software looking forward, we have the potential to transition into a data company. The momentum sometimes takes my breath away, it is an exciting time for my mom, myself, and our team!
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Early on we noted that Mixtroz has virality. When a customer like The Kauffman Foundation, purchases Mixtroz for a gathering, then their attendees then take Mixtroz elsewhere. We did a large event with Kauffman earlier this year and our business is still feeling the momentum from that single event. The attendees used Mixtroz, were delighted in the experience and have inquired to bring Mixtroz to their organizations worldwide. Virality isn’t a phenomenon that you can manufacture, it is a natural occurrence and if you have it, USE IT! To continue to grow Mixtroz we need to do more mixes. It is a key top of funnel activity to get Mixtroz to as many gatherings across our key verticals (Events, Enterprise, Education) as possible. Then, we stay in front of our customer gently giving them the use cases they are looking for at the appropriate time of year.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
The moment that I realized being a smart, savvy, accomplished, intelligent black woman with an idea wasn’t enough. In the beginning we heard more “no’s” than I care to count and at a certain point we realized that we’d have to find another way to build this business.
For us, it was recognizing that the ecosystem that your business is based in is everything. Startups need support, period. If you are not getting that support where you are going elsewhere, for us that was Birmingham, Alabama. We started our journey in Birmingham with an accelerator in January 2018 and now our HQ and our family has relocated to this truly magical city. As an entrepreneur it is your job to find your people, find your champions, go there and soar.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Yes! I have so many of these but this one gave me goosebumps because I saw it happen in real time. Within a Mixtroz group, at an event during Essence Fest in New Orleans there was a woman who was in law school and was mentioning to her group that there was a judge in New Orleans she really wanted to connect with because she had an interest in clerking for him. A man in the same group knew that this particular judge and knew that this judge was in the same room. This man took the woman to the judge and made that warm connection in real time at the event. We have countless examples of this, and this story is an illustration of our core beliefs. People need connection and Mixtroz is the tool that easily and efficiently facilitates it. We, as humans, are all one collision away from something life changing!
How do you motivate others?
Being authentic, letting people know (especially when that are starting out) that my personal and Mixtroz social media is simply a highlight reel. For every awesome photo or announcement there are likely ten lows that contributed to that high. In this age, we don’t talk enough about the negative that we experience, and I feel like it’s part of my role to let people hear about what I have personally experienced and how I pushed forward. Sharing in this way can certainly be an inspiration to others.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Approach anything like it's everything. I rose the ranks so fast in both my internship and events career because whatever the task large or small I did it to the very best of my ability. I knew that people were watching, and I didn’t give them the option not to take notice.
What do I do best?
I started my career as an Executive Assistant in NYC and because of that, and even somewhat before, I have been an extremely organized individual (also helps that I am type A). It is rare if ever something falls through the cracks with me.
What makes me the best version of myself?
I generally don’t take “no” for an answer when it is something I really want. In my field there is always a way to yes, it’s a matter of willingness to not just pop the hood but get under the car and check things out when necessary.
What are my aspirations?
To inspire colorful people to dream and do bigger. If I can, you can.
My Biggest Success?
When we started Mixtroz my mom and I were in the category of most likely to fail due to so many things outside of our control, namely where the US was culturally with women and in particular women of color in tech. My biggest accomplishment? I am still here, thriving.
My Most Challenging Moment?
When I first moved to Nashville from NYC to join my mom full-time in Mixtroz I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. I crave structure and in entrepreneurship it doesn’t exist. I struggled with this, fell into depression but when I saw the signs, I sought help from my family and physician. It is important to say this because mental health and health in general on this journey is everything. If you don’t have it, what’s the point of all of this? Today I am happy and healthy and that makes me better in every way for my customers, team and the business.
”If You Pray Don't Worry... If You Worry Why Pray”
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Kerry Schrader - Obvious reasons, she is my beacon, the best woman I know.
Michelle Obama - She has become a symbol for ALL women. I was so proud to have her representing this country.
Sara Blakey - She didn’t know the most about fashion when she started Spanx, she cared the most to solve the problem. We feel this way about Mixtroz.
Lizzo - Unapologetically who she is. Confidence x 1000!!!
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
High on my list to visit:
My Favorite Products/Objects?
A quality show to binge watch. Currently I am loving HBO’s “Succession”. This is an hour in the day where I can shut my brain off.
Outlook, Slack, and HubSpot
Rose water and a great face lotion with SPF + Becca Skin Love Glow Elixir. I am a busy entrepreneur on most days I wear gym clothes to the office unless I am meeting with a customer or attending an event. This helps me get out the door quickly in the morning and never make an excuse not to make it to the gym.
My fanny pack - Super convenient and the 90s are back!
My apartment - For the 1st time since 2016 I am back living on my own. I am blessed to have had a beautiful family home to move to when I joined Mixtroz full time, but I appreciate my independence as well.
ASOS - I am at a ton of events and I speak quite often these days. This brand gives me access to fashionable and well-priced items.
Cold beer and hot days
Women’s Health + Bath on Sunday evenings
My Current Passions?
Boxing and fitness
Meeting new people
My Daily Thoughts:
Goal of the Day: Wake and Slay
Thought of the Day: I am enough
Action of the Day: Getting inbox to 0
Deed of the Day: Talking to anyone during the mundane i.e. waiting in line, you never know who you will collide with. Also complementing people when I see something I like. It’s really easy to make another person’s day!
Tip of the Day: Use your tools, write things down, set reminders - we aren't machines, we are humans use all the tools at your fingertips to ensure success.
What do you love most about Your City?
It gave my business a chance #bham
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Sleeping
10:00 AM - Arriving to the office
12:00 PM – Enjoying a smoothie at my desk around 1 because I try to fast until then
7:00 PM - Boxing
11:00 PM - On my laptop, finishing up work, shopping, reading, catching up on the news that I may have missed OR ideally listening to a podcast on my way to sleep
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
I need two (2) Spindrift Blackberry
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
What should everyone try at least once?
Starting a business
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
My Pic of the Day:
What Else to Know?
Follow Ashlee on Instagram @shemixalot87 and @mixtroz across all platforms
My favorite conversation starter: What was your 1st concert? Mine was Blink-182 and Sum41 and this response always gets the questions flowing!
Pro Networking Tip: Always have your go to topics or questions in order to get the conversation flowing. Make it interesting and fun, then get to business!