Shani Dowell is a peace, love and light soul that is carving out her place in the entrepreneurial tech space. When you meet her, you can sense her authenticity and openness right from the start. As a former teacher, maybe that is why her first leap into entrepreneurship with her company Possip, was such a natural flow. Possip which stands for “positive gossip”, is the brainchild of Shani as she felt there was a missing link in schools – true feedback. See, through actual on-going communication (versus the normal one-sided convos) from both parents, teachers and administrations, Shani saw where stronger schools could be birthed. All through the simple power of community (and forward thinking technology), Possip initiates communication between parents to the schools and teachers allowing them to stay very present in the educational journey of their children. As Shani shared, “you can’t remove parents from the equation”.
Her direct and super intentional approach is probably why Possip is one of the fastest growing tech companies in Tennessee. She is also the first African-American woman founder to raise over $1 million dollars in funding in the state of Tennessee. Let that sink in. She has shared that her road has not always been an easy one. She recalls, sitting at “tables” where “decision makers” would question the methods and path she was choosing to grow her own business. Yet, she always stayed the course, knowing this was her vision to birth and what was needed to make a true impact between the parent/school dynamic.
Nowadays (you know the season of Corona), Possip has taken on an even greater role with parents, students and teachers. It is not a tool for feedback only but now offers parents a chance to share real-time needs from wifi, food, diapers to home essentials in order for schools to help in providing assistance. As a wife and mother of 2, she shares with empathy and understanding, “many households do not have easy access to general essentials we may take for granted like wifi, food, etc., during probably one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.”
While taking a walk in her own neighborhood during our chat, she reflects back on the work that is still needed within our school systems and equity disparities as a whole. “Possip is not only building bridges within the school communication system, we also want to build equity”, Shani states with a true willingness to serve. I realized you don’t always find that in business, especially in the tech space. It is normally about the product – how trendy it is, how new-age it will be, innovation that will take over the world, right.
Yet, some allow technology to rule and dilute the human part of who we are at the core. I think this is why Shani and what she is doing is so vital and a breath of fresh air at the same time. Yes, it’s tech forward and you better believe big data is at the forefront. However, putting the importance of family and our youth at the forefront is what separates her from the rest.
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