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Startup Corner: Arianna Russell, Help Connect LLC

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Minimally viable product …
The Help Connect website provides community resource information at the click of a button. It is an easily searchable database that allows our area to know what nonprofits exist, what services they offer, how to donate, the process of how to volunteer and what nonprofit events are coming up.

Problem solving …
Information about what resources are available in our community is scattered throughout multiple locations, making it very difficult and time consuming to find the information you need. Volunteers and those in need search for hours to find opportunities and resources. Some organizations aren’t familiar with what services other organizations provide; this leads to a duplication of services, which drains already strained resources.

Seed money …
So far about $15,000 of our own money has been spent on the research and development of Help Connect. Since New Year’s Eve 2017, we have worked full time meeting with nonprofits, volunteers, people who need help and businesses in our area. Their response showed that we are indeed filling one of the largest gaps in our community.

Hurdles overcome …
Getting out of my comfort zone and asking for help. With my previous company, Bodacious Cases, I worked 20-plus hours a day on a regular basis. I always felt uncomfortable asking for help so I would try to do as much as I could myself.

Next phase …
We plan to launch the website by October. We will continue to work with community organizations to onboard the nonprofits and sponsors. Currently, we are looking for sponsors to purchase ad space on our website that will help reduce the cost to the nonprofits and provide these resources free to the public.

Biggest mistake …
I have made countless mistakes in my life, including the time I was impatient and stubborn and rushed a manufacturing order that cost me $7,500. The truth is I would not redo a single thing in my life. Every little mistake I have made has made me a better person and smarter businesswoman.

Best/worst advice received …
The best and worst advice I have ever received was when I was starting Bodacious Cases and I was learning how to invent a product. Many people told me what I was doing couldn’t be done or if it was possible the bigger companies would have already done it. It was the best advice because it pushed me to prove them wrong. It was the worst advice because no one should tell someone to quit just because they think what the person is doing might be hard.

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