How Data Made Her Do It
Today I am interviewing Melody Jennings Bowers, co-founder of the Virtual Collective and Her Data Method. A former school teacher, Melody is a brilliant, hard-working, data-driven woman, mom of two rockstar teenagers and all-around badass, and she can hustle with the best of them when it comes to making things happen. In fact, she and her co-founder Shannon Ware hustled so hard during the iFundWomen campaign that they met their funding goal and then some, which has since allowed them to begin converting their Her Data Method dreams into reality. Melody took a quick break to share with us what she’s gained through the crowdfunding experience (HINT: It’s not just money …), what her goals are for Her Data Method and so much more.
Meet Melody, Co-Creator of Her Data Method
Melody! How are you?
I’m good! Good!! Just working like crazy to get Her Data Method built and launched.
Excellent! Before we get into Her Data Method, I want readers to get an idea of who you are and the path that led you to this point in your career.
Through the work we were doing with Virtual Collective, we found that our clients often struggled to understand how the health of their website impacted their ability to collect data, and that kept them from being able to effectively market their brand. Which ended up leading to wasted time and wasted ad dollars.
After I learned how to code and I built a couple websites from scratch and understood how everything works from the backend of a site, I realized that there are several basic fundamentals are non-negotiable if you want to have an online presence. I began mapping out a course to start figuring out what and how to teach in a way that would make sense to non-tech people. Once a teacher always a teacher!
"I mapped out a course and started to figure out what and how to teach it in a way that would make sense to non-tech people. Once a teacher always a teacher!"
How did you and Shannon conceive the Her Data Method idea?
Shannon and I had committed to building an online course about how to collect data and we brought on Andy Derrick to help us figure out the best way to build it. In our first brainstorming session (where I was probably terrifying him with releasing all that was in my head!), I kept giving examples of situations that could have been helped by this course. He asked, “Don’t you think there are other women in business who could benefit from this?” That never crossed our minds. The minute I told Shannon about Andy’s observation, she got excited too. Everything clicked! We did some more research, came up with a name and began developing the course. A couple of weeks later, I received the iFundWomen press release email and everything kind of took on a life of its own.
At what point did you and Shannon say, “We’re doing this.”?
After I saw that press release on the morning of February 9, 2017, I quickly applied and then sent Shannon an email that said, “I just applied for this — could be a great way to launch the HDM idea.” And by 4 p.m. that same day I had been interviewed by the iFundWomen team and we were accepted. The goal was to launch our campaign on the iFundWomen Nashville page which was going live on March 6, and then we would prepare for the Live Crowdfunding Marketplace Event with the Mayor that was scheduled for March 26 at the Entrepreneur Center. I told Shannon “Yay! We just got accepted!” She said, “Yay!” but didn’t look at all the emails in detail until a week later when she emailed me and said, “This looks like a pretty amazing opportunity! What all do we need to do?” HA! Once we started looking into what all was involved with pulling off a crowdfunding campaign, we realized it’s a good thing we didn’t know what was involved or we might not have ever done it! But with the help of the Virtual Collective team, we pulled it off!
"With the help of the Virtual Collective team,
we pulled it off!"
Describe for me the moment when you achieved full funding.
We were at my house doing our weekly “partner meeting” and going over ways to cross the finish line. She sent an email reminding a client who had mentioned that he was interested in supporting the campaign that we were pretty close to our goal. He responded about five minutes later by saying, “Refresh your page.” He had donated $500! Which took us over our goal! We whooped and hollered, cried some happy, humble tears, sent him thank yous, and then got back to work.
What was the biggest “A-ha!” moment for you throughout the entire iFundWomen campaign experience?
There were so many “a-ha” moments. That whole experience was pivotal for me in realizing that everything we have been working toward with Virtual Collective and now Her Data Method has been time well spent. On a human level, it reminded me how awesome our team is and how valuable all of our community efforts have been. It felt like one big universal nod to go forth and prosper. It was so empowering! As a woman, it underscored the need for women to stop working for free and to not feel weird or uncomfortable about seeking funding.
Why do you think the focus is so heavily shifting toward empowering women, with Her Data Method and iFundWomen being prime examples of that?
There is strength in numbers. When you find other women who are either ahead of or behind you in their journey, it’s empowering both ways — it’s empowering to be the one who can help another woman in her efforts and encourage her along the way by sharing your experiences or knowledge or whatever. But it’s just as empowering to be on the receiving end of the encouragement and to feel that support. It’s contagious. That spirit is what will continue to move us forward.
Talk to me about equal pay for women, and the disparity between investments made in female startups vs. male startups.
Women are starting to change the entrepreneurial landscape with or without funding; the micro-funding boost just helps makes getting to the next level in the process a little more possible. But you know what? Until the day comes when women are on a level playing field with men in terms of pay, or VC investments, we need pioneering women like Karen Cahn who are willing to bring projects like iFundWomen to life that help all of us push our ideas forward – have you seen all the amazing female founders projects on iFundWomen? I think women are already changing the world, give them a supportive community, some funds and get the out of the way! Plus it’s just fun to connect with that many other passionate women who are getting shit done with a shoestring budget and an iron will.
So do guys have any role at all in these women-driven businesses and initiatives?
Absolutely! Even though the focus is on women, it’s the community of inclusiveness that gives these initiatives power. Men, women, whatever. The future may be female, but we aren’t going to get there by ourselves. When people believe AND invest in you and your idea, the energy exchanged is powerful, and THAT is why iFundWomen was worth doing. We want to invigorate others in that same way to help them accomplish their goals and make a difference not only in their lives but in the world. It’s a cycle … and it’s life-changing for anyone who is a part of it!
So what’s the ETA for the launch of Her Data Method?
Well, we just finalized the course outline today, and we begin building in May. You can pre-register now and we’ll let you know when the course is live. Beta testing is scheduled to begin in July, and we are on track to have the course live in August 2017!
If ever there was a team that could meet — and exceed — their goals, it’s Melody and Shannon and their dedicated, loyal, passionate team. If you’re ready to get on board with Her Data Method and take your business to the next level, sign up to be notified when course registration goes live. Click here, learn more about it, sign up and get ready to rock!