Take care of your money: This entrepreneur learns to balance her mission and business with financial health | News


occupation: Founder of entertwine, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to help people develop their careers in entertainment. She also works at a non-profit organization that helps people communicate with their congressman.

salary: $19,000 from non-profit business. She has not received a salary since her launch.

Goal: More funds to start it

Entrepreneur Kyiana Williams knows she has a brilliant startup: Her company intertwine uses artificial intelligence to help up-and-coming artists develop their entertainment careers.

Now she’s focused on finding additional investors who love her company’s mission as much as they love the AI ​​technology her company uses.

“(Too many potential investors) don’t care about the people we’re impacting or the good we’re providing, especially diverse, underrepresented communities,” said Williams, 26, of Los Angeles. “They just want the technology because it means that if I die tomorrow, the technology will still be alive.

In a perfect world, Williams wants investors who care about how she navigates a career in the largely freewheeling entertainment industry. She wants investors who see the potential for “work for all.” She’s looking for investors who dream bigger than “this could be sold to Google, and then we can be done and happy to be acquired.”

Williams first realized the need for her work as a playwriting professor at New York University. During her freshman year, she got a gig as a producer of a television show that would be a theatrical production. However, it was difficult to find the talent – a director, a lighting designer, several actors and more – to work on the production. She asked professors and others for help, but did not get the help she needed. Fortunately, the production did not go ahead, but Williams immediately realized the need for more hands-on help with the creatives.

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“There’s no safety net,” Williams said. “There is no guide to being in this field with my degree.”

This is where intertwine, which started in 2019 but has been ramped up over the past two years, helps. Its goal is to be a career development center that follows graduates after college. Williams’ philosophy is that it’s counterintuitive that career centers only benefit college students, and she says post-college is when people need career help.

Basically, colleges are not designed to help graduates. Williams wants the interweaving to disrupt that system.

“What does this process look like to have someone take care of me when I graduate and help me in my career?” Williams asks. “What would that look like in a career that is as free and fluid as entertainment?”

Users sign up to socialize and receive personalized career counseling after completing a detailed questionnaire. Advice comes from AI advisors on the platform and virtually from people connecting with each other.

For example, if a person wants to be a showrunner but has no experience, the AI ​​advisor on the platform will recommend starting with a scriptwriting workshop. AI then offers several workshops tailored to the user’s location, including virtual ones such as WE Screenplay, The Blacklist, Sundance and others.

In addition, entertwine may suggest festivals for users to attend. The company hosts playwriting competitions and film festivals, providing crucial visibility for emerging film and television creatives.

When Williams isn’t working at her startup, she works at a nonprofit that helps people engage with their congressmen, making $19,000 a year.

To make ends meet, Williams took in a roommate—her romantic partner who earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Their rent for their one-bedroom apartment is $1,625 a month, a deal they made during the COVID-19 lockdown when people were leaving the big cities. She said expenses are $500 to $700 a month, including gas, electricity, personal bills, insurance and “some money to go out,” she said.

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Williams’ social repertoire includes free jazz concerts, art galleries and movies.

To travel to events, Williams and her partner occasionally use public transportation because it’s often cheaper than paying for gas and faster than driving. Her clothes and furniture are from thrift shops. Williams and her partner spent $2 on a table for her vintage record collection and a wooden coffee table. Her authentic leather couches cost a total of $100. Appliances came with the apartment or were purchased for $10 or less.

“We go to the highest quality, cheapest stores we can get our hands on,” Williams said.

Her favorites are Goodwill and Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Los Angeles Thrift Store.

She has $33,000 in student loan debt and $17,000 in credit card debt.

Elizabeth Maybe, co-founder of SoGal Ventures, a next-generation female-led venture capital firm, was working a side gig as a mentor when she began her startup journey. Many entrepreneurs work part-time and full-time when building their companies.

However, Galbut says it will be critical for Williams to align her mission with a business model that is more financially sound for her and her company.

“I think as women we like to put the mission first and put the mission first over our personal financial scenarios,” Galbutt said. “But if we’re struggling, it’s hard for us to keep moving toward the mission in a sustainable way.”

When looking for funding, Galbut says Williams and other entrepreneurs should also think about three things: geography, scene and industry.

For example, Williams can target people in the Los Angeles ecosystem who want to support local entrepreneurs. Plus, because Williams’ business has a small headcount, angel investors may be more willing to take the risk associated with her small company (entertwine has seven equity-paid employees). In terms of industry, Galbut thinks Williams should be looking for investors in human resources technology, the arts, media and artificial intelligence.

In addition, governments often have departments that promote filmmaking in their cities. “Can it partner with governments to provide technology to potential customers?” Galbut asks. “She can be creative with who her paying customers are, which aren’t art students.”

Applying for grants is an option for startup founders, although they are usually “one-off”.

The SoGal Foundation has a Black Founder Startup grant of $5,000 and $10,000 for Black women and non-binary entrepreneurs. Last year, 50 women and non-binary entrepreneurs received it.

Natalie P. McNeal is the author The Frugalista File: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up on a Fantastic Life.





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