February 29, 2024

VA 2023 Spotlight: Seed Stage Pitch Competition Winner Enrichly

Venture Atlanta 2023 marked a significant evolution in the conference’s history, spotlighting pitching companies more prominently than ever before. In a new format, audience members voted for top companies in various stages—Seed, Growth, and Early Stage—on the first day. The chosen companies then participated in a live Q&A with a panel of investor judges on the second day. The highlight was the inaugural Startup Showcase Live, where the top Seed Stage company, Enrichly, was awarded a $500,000 investment.

Enrichly, a visionary k-12 education technology company, is at the forefront of revolutionizing youth mental health and resilience in business. As a leading e-learning platform, it leverages machine learning in education to create a unique learning experience. Led by Founder and CEO Margo Jordan, Enrichly embodies innovation and impact. Its commitment to nurturing young minds and fostering emotional growth places it among the most influential players in educational technology. This transformative approach is not just changing the landscape of learning but also setting new benchmarks for youth mental health support in the formative years of growth.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Margo Jordan to delve into her experience at VA 2023 and learn about her entrepreneurial journey with Enrichly. Check out the conversation below.

Gamifying Youth Development: Enrichly’s Journey into Existence

Tell us about the moment or experience that sparked the idea for Enrichly.

Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a young girl, I faced challenges with low self-esteem. This issue led me down a path of poor decisions and peer pressure. My turning point came when I joined the military at 18, where I discovered my self-esteem and recognized my potential.

After graduating from Texas Southern University with a degree in finance and briefly venturing into investment banking, I realized my true calling was elsewhere. I wanted to address a problem I faced both as a child and as an adult: low self-esteem. My research revealed that a staggering 85% of the adult population suffers from this issue. This realization led me to question why there weren’t more focused solutions for developing self-esteem. Traditional approaches like sports or karate classes didn’t directly address this need. Hence, Enrichly was born out of the need to focus on self-esteem, aiming to repair and improve one’s self-image.

Our company wasn’t orginally named Enrichly; it was called Chicks with Class, conceived as a self-esteem center for girls. Established as a brick-and-mortar entity in 2017, Chicks with Class aimed to directly address self-esteem in young girls. However, with COVID-19 in 2020, we were forced to rethink our approach. We had to close our physical center and could no longer conduct in-person sessions in schools. This challenge led to a significant pivot in December 2020, where we transitioned to a fully digital platform, laying the groundwork for what Enrichly is today.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in developing your startup and how did you overcome them?

One of my biggest challenges was learning how to grow a team without a background in technology. Not knowing how to code, I had to first understand what I wanted from the product, and then determine the right people for the team. This process involved significant trial and error, and initially, I made costly mistakes by hiring the wrong people. 

Another challenge was maintaining focus. Enrichly offers a universally accessible tool for self-esteem, but pinpointing our target market for maximum business impact was complex. We adopted a strategy of focusing on one customer segment or vertical at a time, which helped avoid overstretching our limited startup resources. Regular 90-day check-ins were crucial in this process, allowing us to evaluate our progress and refine our team composition. Ultimately, focusing on one vertical not only helped in solving the initial challenge of team building but also steered the company more effectively towards growth.

What have been some key learnings or growth experiences as an entrepreneur throughout this journey with Enrichly?

One key learning for me has always been to trust my gut. As entrepreneurs, we often seek external advice, sometimes more than trusting our own expertise, even though we are the ones deeply involved in building our companies. When I listened to others over my own instincts, it often led to mistakes. I’ve learned it’s better to trust my judgment and learn from any mistakes I make on that path. 

Confidence is essential in entrepreneurship, whether dealing with investors or customers. One of the key ways to do that is to always make sure you’re staying ready and prepared. I used to be a huge procrastinator, but in this life of startup land, I learned that I literally have to be prepared at all times to make sure that I’m taking advantage of any opportunity that comes my way. 

How has the startup community, particularly in the Southeast, influenced or supported your growth?

One of the most significant communities I became part of was Google for Startups, which was facilitated by Goodie Nation. I initially applied in 2021, but it wasn’t until 2022 that I was accepted. This moment was crucial for Enrichly’s growth, offering invaluable training and access to a broad community.

Through my involvement with Goodie Nation, I was also introduced to Venture Atlanta. A mentor of mine encouraged me to apply for Venture Atlanta’s showcase, which led to us winning the grand prize. And it was a life-changing moment.  I’ll say that. This achievement wasn’t just about funding; it was about connecting with a vast network of people who could offer advice and help accelerate our learning and growth.

Enrichly at Venture Atlanta 2023

How did you first hear about Venture Atlanta?

I was really convinced to pitch at Venture Atlanta by my friend at Goodie Nation, Stefanie Diaz. She’s the one who sent me an email and gave me the information. Now, I did also know other startup founders who were a part of Venture Atlanta the year prior. But for whatever reason, I just felt like, well, maybe that opportunity isn’t for me — until Stefanie sent me that email and told me I should definitely apply.

What was the application process for VA 2023 like?

The Venture Atlanta application process was by far the most simple application that I’ve done, and I’ve filled out a lot of applications. So for this to be the biggest prize, the biggest win, and the simplest application, it’s like icing on the cake!

How did you prepare for your pitch?

So, fun fact, before Venture Atlanta, I would do pitch competitions all the time. And I was always winning. And then all of a sudden, I was on this losing streak. I lost probably four times in a row, because I had gotten to this idea in my head that I was so good at pitching that I didn’t need to practice.

So when Venture Atlanta came around, I said, you know what? I am not going to lose. I’m going to do whatever I need to do to practice, practice, practice. And that’s what I did. I scripted my pitch. I went over my slides thousands of times. I would walk up to strangers and ask them to hear my pitch and let me know if they understood what I did within these two minutes. And I would record myself, you know, saying the pitch over and over and over, and I would time myself and I would get into this rhythm where I knew exactly what slide was coming up and what word or what sentence. So that way, if we had any technical difficulties and the screen just went out, I knew how to pick up where I left off. And that was how I prepared.

What impact did winning the pitch competition have for Enrichly?

Oh my gosh, where do I start? Well, first of all, I was able to hire my team full-time and give them a guaranteed salary. That was great. I was also able to recruit my new head of engineering, and this person came from a company that sold for like $350 million. So bringing on someone of his caliber really allowed me to grow my network even more and expose Enrichly to not just the talent that I needed, but the right talent to take Enrichly from where we are now to where I see the company being in about 24 months.

I’ve also been able to grow myself as a leader within the company. And I’ve been able to sort of step back and ask myself questions like, “How can I ensure that Enrichly is building not only the best product, but we’re also building the best culture for all of our employees?”  Because I really valued how great the experience was at Venture Atlanta, I really wanted to make sure that everything that Enrichly is doing is reflecting the type of win that we took home, which was obviously so major for us. I would probably say those are the biggest ways that winning this pitch competition has impacted our company.

What other components of the Venture Atlanta conference and network did you find most valuable?

I would definitely say the people, particularly those involved with the funds. Beyond the financial support they provided, the relationships I’ve built hold immense value. These connections are not only vital for Enrichly’s current growth but also for my future ventures. It’s these relationships that make winning pitch competitions like Venture Atlanta truly rewarding. It’s not just about the monetary gain; it’s about the network and connections that come with these investments.

How have you used/do you plan on using the investment prize from the Startup Showcase?

In addition to the new hires, I was also able to launch a marketing campaign for the company, which I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I had my eye on this company and I was finally able to do it. Additionally, I brought on a highly qualified fractional CFO to help get our numbers together so that when we do go out and we want to raise again, or we want to prepare the company for acquisition, everything is done correctly. And now I don’t have to worry as much about that part of the business.

What does it mean to now be working with BIP Ventures, Florida Funders, Knoll Ventures, and Catalyst by Wellstar? What does each fund bring to you besides money?

The amount of value that each one of these funds brings to Enrichly in my opinion is worth a lot more than money. Catalyst by WellStar will actually be piloting Enrichly’s software within their healthcare system. This will allow us to really break into the healthcare system a lot more and open up the opportunity for deeper impact. Florida Funders invited us out to be a showcase company which opens the door to more connections in Florida which subsequently was the next state on our go-to-market plan. BIP Ventures has brought forth so much visibility and has given us the opportunity to connect with more customers.

The Future of Enrichly

What’s next for Enrichly? Anything exciting on the horizon that we can share?

Yes! So, I recently moved to Abu Dhabi and am collaborating with a local team to expand our technology in the region. This is an exciting development over the coming months. We’re also planning to scale our solution across more schools, starting with a pilot program in Atlanta, which is exciting as it’s the home of Venture Atlanta. Additionally, we’re exploring ways to integrate AI and generative AI into Enrichly to enhance its effectiveness.

What’s your long-term vision for Enrichly?

My long-term vision for Enrichly is to establish it as a cash flow positive company, capable of starting a fund to invest in other social impact-oriented tech companies. I would love to start corporate fund where we can invest in unique educational initiatives, leveraging our extensive knowledge in this domain.

Another goal is to develop Enrichly into a premier platform for self-esteem development, similar to the model of Duolingo, but focused on self-esteem. We also plan to make it a family-oriented program where parents are actively involved in their children’s self-esteem journey, ensuring it’s more than just a game but a tool for growth and learning.

Any final thoughts and words of advice for other entrepreneurs?

Leverage your network. You don’t know who you know that may be able to connect you to the next big piece of the puzzle. That’s what I’ve done to get Enrichly as far as we’ve gotten to this point.

Additionally, I really encourage diversity, because when you put men and women who come from different backgrounds into an organization, you can get much more accomplished. That’s what I strive to do at Enrichly. Everybody has their own self-esteem journey. We have been able to pour these self-esteem journeys into the development of our technology, into our marketing campaigns, and into the facilitators who go into the classroom and actually teach the children. And that plays a huge part in our growth and why we are so unique.

I would also encourage people to seek funding opportunities. Explore things like grants and scholarships and funding programs that are a really good fit for what you and your company need. Venture might not always be the answer for startups or for entrepreneurs, but if it is, make sure you find the right fund. Find the right fund and find someone who not only believes in your company but also believes in you as the founder. 

The last thing I want to say is fail faster. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and fail as soon as you can so that you can pivot and find out what does work.

Be the Next Venture Atlanta Success Story

Visit our site to learn more about the Venture Atlanta pitch application and selection process. Applications for VA 2024 open in May! It’s free to apply – so there’s no risk. And even if you don’t get selected, the application process itself gets your company in front of several investors and community leaders (who make up our selection committee), so it’s great exposure! Contact us with any questions.

Share This:
Recommended Reads: