Karen Williams believes there are no small businesses, just businesses; family comes first and diversifying the tech game is on and poppin. A Memphis native, who attended Tennessee State University and graduated from Strayer, has held various corporate roles. Yet, it was her 5-year recruiting career that would fuel her newest startup, MinTech Agency (Min(ority)Tech). She was able to see how landing a job in tech could change an individual’s life, provide for their families and impact community.
She was also tired of hearing the same response – “we can’t find qualified diverse talent” as to why many high profile tech companies and departments were lacking in diversity. So, she decided to change that because she knew there was a lot of qualified Black and Latinx talent out there. Check out her Nashville story as she shares all the things from growing a 6-figure business in a pandemic, staying centered to keeping up with the work from home grind with her children.
What inspired you to start your diversity recruiting firm?
I would say it was the cry out of constant concern from the tech world that there was a struggle or hard time finding minority talent. They were having a hard time finding people to fill the roles they needed. With my background in HR and my husband’s background in software development, I decided to have a conversation with him about this struggle. It was from that conversation where I decided to start MinTech Agency, where we focus primarily on Black and Latinx talent.
Based on what you know about the tech industry’s lack of diversity, what was the most rewarding and most challenging part in starting your business?
I think the most rewarding part, of course, is placing someone at a job where they get the pay that they deserve. The most difficult part is getting uncomfortable and going after what I perceived to be hard clients. Jumping out there and reaching out to the CIO’s and decision makers. This might not be everyone’s story, but I know my story of waiting until I’m comfortable was not going to work. You just have to do it. I learned quickly that if you wait until you’re comfortable, you will be forever waiting.
You mentioned sharing this venture with your husband, who also works in tech. How has having a support system helped in growing MinTech?
I’ve been on my entrepreneur journey for about 4 years now, and without my support system, I would be homeless (j/k)! I would have definitely had to go back to work. MinTech is not the first business I’ve started. I’ve always known that entrepreneurship is a passion of mine, but it took me finding the right passion project, which is MinTech. The added support of my husband as a support system has made all the difference. When I’m feeling down or discouraged, he’s always been there to offer supportive words. When I don’t know something in the tech field, he’s always been there to help me figure it out. He has been very instrumental in the growth of MinTech.
In speaking of growth, MinTech has already hit 250,000 in annual revenue. How did it feel when you surpassed that coveted 6-figure milestone?
You know what? I hadn’t even noticed that we hit our first milestone because I was just so head down and focused on doing the work. I was so busy building the brand that when I sat down to run the numbers, I was like “Oh, we’re almost at our revenue goal for the year.” When I went back to look at the numbers, I saw that we had tremendously surpassed our goal of the 6-figure mark and were at a quarter of a million dollars already this year. I’m also grateful to say that we are debt-free, and it feels good to continue to grow.
Transparent moment: Speaking more on the support of my husband, he was actually the person who supported the business until it was able to support itself. I remember him having to front our payroll for about 30 days until we actually saw checks come in, and my husband definitely helped to keep us afloat.
How are you able to balance growing a startup while working from home, managing your household and children’s school schedule?
There is no perfect feel for this new reality, and I wouldn’t be the one to say everything is all roses. We moved into a home office so that everyone can work from home effectively. We all need to stay on track. We utilize a lot of calendars and alerts and spreadsheets. Every now and then, I’ll have to check on the kids to make sure no one’s taking a nap! It’s been a true task that I’m sure everyone is dealing with, but it’s all about figuring out what works for you and your family. Since we have teenagers, we try to allow them that freedom to do what they’re supposed to do and just intervene when needed. It seems to be going well. It could be better, but it’s just our reality right now.
You are one of the most positive entrepreneurs I know, how do you keep yourself centered?
I would say the thing that has kept me centered is my true belief that we create our reality. We create the things that move around us and happen to us. I’m not saying that in reference to someone in your family catching COVID or passing away or anything like that. That didn’t happen to us. That’s something we witnessed. The things that happen to us and for us happen through our thoughts. It’s all in the words. I say things to myself like “MinTech is successful.” or “MinTech is sealing deals.” It’s all about how you speak to yourself and what you keep in your thoughts.
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