The story of our company starts in the pages of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Our co-founders Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore realized their experience as business owners left them feeling like Alice — believing as many as “six impossible things before breakfast,” as Carroll writes. Around here, we’ve always thought that Alice’s adventures were a pretty great way to capture the entrepreneurial spirit. So great, in fact, that she became our company’s namesake.
Carolyn and Elizabeth first met in 2008 and had an immediate bond over the massive opportunity to become the go-to platform for small business owners, especially the New Majority. You will often hear that Elizabeth was drawn to Carolyn because she always noted the upside and opportunity — not the barriers and risks. Through keeping their day jobs, having four kids, maxing out credit cards, building the first digital accelerator for female entrepreneurs, and finally getting enough funding and time, (or was it childcare, or was it money….) Hello Alice launched in 2017.
Even before we had a name, there were those who believed in our audacious mission, including Zaw Thet, Carmen Jones, John China, Jean Case, and Jacki Zehner. Then there are those who literally helped us just last week, such as Ginger Siegel, Lawrence Bancroft, Frank Rotman, and Rakia Reynolds. We thank all of you for your dedication, time, and advice. Some folks chose to overlook us, underestimate us, or lean on their bias against diverse small business owners. As we say in Texas, bless their hearts.
Four years into this adventure, we’re proud to be the largest platform for small business owners looking to launch and grow their companies. The next phase of our mission is to become the number one place for all of you to access capital. Hello Alice will continue offering grants to help small businesses build back from the effects of the pandemic, and we’re exploring ways to offer equitable forms of credit and lending, too.
None of this would be possible without our incredible team at Hello Alice. Each of them has a deep passion for serving small businesses, and one of our core values is that “everyone takes out the trash.” In the beginning, when the founders did everything from code to write proposals to stuff envelopes, it was mind-blowing when we hired our first employee, Jillian Benvenuti. Today, she is Hello Alice’s chief of staff supporting 50 team members.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t say thank you to the more than 375,000 small business owners in the Hello Alice community. Through thick and thin, you have all supported each other. Our mission is steadfast to ensure you receive equal access to capital, networks, and resources to help you succeed. Hello Alice believes in you – women, men, people of color, U.S. veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and all entrepreneurs who aspire to make change. At every milestone, learn from people that have walked your path.
We are all in this together, even if everyone thinks, as the Mad Hatter put it, “you’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret: All the best people are.”