Updated: Dec 30, 2020
One of the biggest problems in the home health care field is finding (and retaining) quality workers. With the demand outweighing the supply, Aisha Head, founder of Qikkare, saw the opportunity to fill in the gap where it's needed. There are quite a few fundamental problems in the healthcare industry. The first problem is most clients are dissatisfied with the quality of care they are receiving, while home health care workers receive low-wages and not enough hours to support themselves.
Raised by her grandmother, Aisha recalls being a caregiver to her grandmother as a child. After raising her children, her grandmother found herself alone. She helped her grandmother get dressed. She bathed her, helped her up and down the stairs, and even gave her her medications. She'd run errands and pick up her prescriptions. She wanted to do something that would help reduce the burden on families. Yet, also providing quality care for the aging population.
The Launch Of Qikkare
Aisha worked at a job that brought her no fulfillment. She yearned to return to school to finish her finance degree. But with three children, she sacrificed that part of her life to focus on being a mother. Becoming an entrepreneur wasn't on Aisha's radar because she had always tied financial freedom to academic degrees. But social media brought these concepts into perspective for her. She observed people winning, living the entrepreneurial life, and making their own money. That sparked something within her. From there, she resigned from her job, went to a one-income household to pursue the ideas she had.
Her first idea was an Uber for kids, but she couldn't get the numbers right so that it could be profitable. She tried a few other ideas, but a year later, she found herself back at work. Then a friend (now business partner) approached her with an idea. He has been in the startup world for the last 15 years and was well versed in the industry. He said, "I have an idea. But I can't execute it by myself."
Aisha started to research the home health care industry. She read that the 88 million seniors currently will double in size. The more she investigated, the more she noticed the inefficiencies. The inefficiencies lie in not only providing quality care but also fast quality care. In most cases, the aging population needs quick care. Primarily, following incidents such as a fall or a bone injury. The ultimate goal of Qikkare is to provide the fastest care possible. It's an app that connects quality caregivers to families. Within two to 24 hours, a family can receive care from a qualified home health aid.
Practicing For The Pitch Competition
After becoming the co-founder of Qikkare, she noticed something. She had difficulties accessing specific research and information. She realized she didn't have the kinds of connections that her White counterparts had. So, after watching many pitch competitions, she realized two things: first, most of the pitch competitions were West Coast-based. Second, most of the pitch competitors were White men. Because of the lack of representation, she didn't feel inspired that she could do the same.
To note, this was Aisha's first competition, but she says it won't be her last. The pitch competition helped her to validate her idea. One day she watched Jewel Burks on TechCrunch, who is the co-founder of Partpic. She lost her first competition. But, the second time she won, then later, Amazon bought her company–– it inspired her.
She says, "Seeing someone that looked like me gave me the boost and encouragement to think I could do it too." Representation matters. She believes more Black and Brown people need to become visible. The visibility will create a ripple effect that will inspire others to do the same.
Not too many people knew about her involvement in this new business venture. To prepare for her pitch, she rented a small space and invited about 10-12 people, both friends, and family, to critique her. She emphasized that they had to be honest. Aisha sent each of them the pitch deck with a small description. She wrote out her pitch and practiced every day until the mock pitch. When it was time, she recorded it and received constructive feedback. People asked her questions, which helped her to refine her pitch. But despite the practice, she was a ball of nerves.
Aisha received positive feedback from Shelly Bell, founder of BVG. Shelly encouraged her to add the personal story of her grandmother into the pitch. She believed that's what sealed the deal. Most people in the audience have some sort of experience with having or knowing someone aging. The story created a connection between her and the audience.
Did You Have Any Fears Or Setbacks Along The Way
Aisha is a private (and modest) person. She is unaccustomed to putting herself, thoughts, and ideas into the general public. After receiving the call from BGV, fear welled up inside of her. To put herself in front of people to judge her on purpose scared her. It terrified her to know that people would follow her on her journey. She didn't know if her business would be successful or not. "Not 1% of these ideas are a unicorn. But I realized that social media could be a movement if people really connect with you." She says.
The only setback she anticipates for the business is not building enough startup capital that she needs to test their product. The business model requires that she pays the caregivers first. They don't have an asset to use as leverage. There isn't a rich uncle, other family members or friends. "This is why BGV exists. Because our culture hasn't had the opportunity to build that generational wealth, in comparison to our White counterparts, whom they have a friend who has a friend, we can't borrow from anyone to start our ideas." She says.
What Are You Most Proud Of So Far
Aisha says, "I'm most proud of running the course and not giving up. It's so hard to be motivated about anything without any monetary reward." Many people go to work because they need the two incomes to survive, so it's an unthinkable sacrifice to chase after one's dream.
There were many ups and downs along the journey. It felt like an emotional rollercoaster for her. But she is still fighting and not giving up. She suggests when you're feeling demotivated––link back to the longterm goal despite not knowing what the future holds. "It's my faith, having faith that the work I'm putting in will equate to something." She says.
What Asset Do Aspiring Business Owners Need To Be Successful
"Perseverance," Aisha says, without this asset, it'll be challenging to be successful in the end. Black women founders have it more difficult than others. This is why perseverance matters. Over time, she learned that intellect isn't the only way to create generational wealth. Having an academic background is no longer a prerequisite. "It doesn't mean much for entrepreneurship. It doesn't come from school. It comes from ideas and solving problems that affect us." She says.
Most successful business owners she came across didn't have stellar backgrounds. But what they had were people who pumped millions of dollars into them. Or some of them had technical experiences, but then their partners didn't. Aisha believes the lane is wide open for people of color to disrupt any industry. "But we can't do it by ourselves. A powerful team brings the idea into fruition." She says.
Aisha believes that regardless of where you are in life, no one is too old to learn. She'll return to receive her finance degree because it will benefit her business. It will expose her to different perspectives on how to lead a company successfully. Aspiring business owners also need to be open to learning (and learning in different ways). Aisha had no idea about how to create a coming soon page on the website. So, she watched videos and taught herself how to do it. Within three days, she published the coming soon page.
What Is Your Self-Care Routine
Aisha enjoys soaking in a bubble bath. She also likes to take 30 minutes in the morning when it's quiet before anyone wakes up to drink a cup of coffee. She then prays by thanking God and asking God to move things in the right direction. Self-care matters. More people need to take more moments for themselves to release stress.
Mantras Keep You Grounded: "Faith without work is like having no faith at all." This quote is from Aisha's grandmother, who said if one isn't putting in the work, then it's impossible to reap the rewards. If the thought doesn't turn into action, then it's just a thought.
What Is A Piece Of Technology You Can't Live Without? GPS.
What Book Do You Recommend? Aisha recommends Rich Dad Poor Dad. She read it a few years ago. But what inspired her the most was Robert Kiyosaki's story about the wallet. He developed a velcro wallet then hired a distributor in China. He made millions of dollars from that wallet. The idea that it doesn't take much to make money blew her mind.
The food you can’t say no to: I can't say no to coffee in the morning with hazelnut creamer.
What's Next for Qikkare?
Aisha plans on attending more networking events. A network attendee introduced her to BGV and the pitch competitions. She recently attended a tech event in Atlanta, where she connected with two angel investors. One of whom mentioned connections to Jewel Burke.
She believes networking is vital to the growth of a business owner. It's a great way to test products to ensure market fit. She has more competitions coming up. The goal is to continue to build the startup capital that she needs and then acquire more clients. Next, the focus is on building a team and partnering up with likeminded people.
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