5. Kimberly Dillon
House of Mikko
Lesson: Be flexible.
Kimberly Dillon's 2-year-old
House of Mikko, a beauty tips-sharing Web site primarily for black and minority women, is a work in progress. But it already has more than 82,000 followers on
"We really wanted to go after the African-American women audience because we really felt that no one was speaking to them. We really wanted to," she says, and that means making sure the site has a culture-specific tone and employs the right colloquialisms.
The company is expanding its audience to multi-ethnic groups of women, launching a mobile app this month that is a more toned-down version of House of Mikko and concentrates solely on hair technique and styles. "One of the key things
about the mobile app
: it solves a particular group's needs but doesn't alienate
Dillon is hoping her product catches on to become a global business. "I really want to have an impact and be a resource for women," with House of Mikko as the umbrella for digital beauty and lifestyle offerings, she says. "African-American women do not know what products work for them or where to get their hair done, and yet they spend three times more than any other segment."
But as a black women in tech entrepreneurism, she has set her sights on goals larger than that.
"The entrepreneurism gene is within us as a group of people," Dillon says, referring to blacks. "Where there is scarcity is in high-growth tech opportunities."
"More than ever, people are starting to build community around this and really adding our voices. There is definitely more of us out there, and I think it's an amazing time as an African-American in tech," she says. "It's pretty fascinating that I can go to a happy hour with 10 of my African-American friends and we all have tech companies."
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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