Feb 03, 2024
Kendra Garcia, a recent Georgia Tech graduate in industrial design, participated in GT Startup Launch in 2021 and the Female Founders program in 2023.
How did you get into entrepreneurship?
I was in a STEM high school. Within STEM branch, I was in engineering, but our capstone project revolved around helping the community. I would say it was definitely the catalyst to go into college. I heard about CREATE-X because I did UGA Idea Accelerator in 2019. It was taught by Jim Flannery, who had been a teacher of mine. It was a two-month process. Going every day, I thought, this is really interesting. Also, my parents have always been supportive about creativity.
What was your idea for GT Startup Launch?
My first time in Launch, my startup had to do with tattoos. I was 18, and I really wanted to learn about the industry because I wanted a tattoo. My favorite tattoo artist is Jerome, and he does fine-line, realistic tattoos. But there's no standard way of finding a tattoo artist. There's no database of tattoo artists. My concept was you could see different artists in your area, and you could see which one matches your design aesthetic. The company name was Drool. I didn't know too much about entrepreneurship at the time, and I just picked the name and ran with it.
What were you able to do through your Launch experience?
I focused on an app, kind of like learning through my major. I really wanted to know how to design apps and learn about the customer journey. I was able to teach myself how to do that. I finished that with CREATE-X.
What did you do after Launch?
Melissa Heffner was my mentor at CREATE-X in 2021. I really look up to her, and I think she's amazing. When I found out that she was on Female Founders, I knew I had to do this program. I joined for the mentors because they're each individually so talented. That's what motivates me.
What did you like about Female Founders?
I really liked meeting everyone. It's geared toward minorities in the business industry and has LGBTQ people, so I wanted to be a part of that. And, you have homework. Every week, you complete a slide deck, and then you get mentored on it. All of the mentors are seeing your deck. You get to see everyone else go. So, you're not just learning from your feedback. You’re learning from the feedback that mentors have given others.
After the program ends, your relationship with them does not. They give you so many opportunities to stay in touch with them. Female Founders focuses on a small group, so it allows you to flourish at Georgia Tech.
What was your plan going into Female Founders?
I wanted to focus on more of a physical product, completely pivot, and figure out if maybe there's a different area that I could be a help in.
What startup idea did you pursue in Female Founders?
My co-founder, Rachel Lohan, and I are working on a startup called Kinetic. I initially started it from a studio project that I created.
It essentially is revolutionizing the way ads work. This would be an advertising experience where you could see designs pop up and then if you're interested, save the info of the tattoo artists.
With an independent tattoo artist, their pain points are essentially the booking process. They use so many different platforms (social media, email, direct messages) to book their individual designs. Usually, a lot of people stray off and end up not working full-time, even though they're very talented.
With the potential tattoo customer, their pain point is there's no database. We really want to empower these artists to be able to continue to make a living off of art. Kinetic is very important to me because I genuinely believe it would be helpful to a lot of people. We want to curate a diverse selection of artists and designs to empower clients to engage with Atlanta artists.
What’s been the impact of having a co-founder?
Picking someone to do business with is very difficult, making sure that you have the perfect team to build. Rachel was just amazing. We've been able to meet every week, talk about the next steps, keep doing tests, and things like that.
What was the work like in Female Founders?
The info session was in-person, but the program was online. You do a session with everyone during the week. Then you get a session with just you and a mentor. On the first couple of days, it's figuring out who your customers are through interviews, not making any assumptions. Each week, you have a new hypothesis that you're trying to prove to narrow down to an actual product for the end. Female Founders really allowed us to ask those hard questions.
It’s a lot of work, going to do interviews with people that you believe are your stakeholders, your end users, and making sure you're asking the right questions in order to actually get that value in your insights. The mentors really, really helped because we only met once a week. It's very hands-on. You have to be ready to go.
What was the best advice you received during Female Founders?
One of my mentors said having tenacity and resilience will genuinely get you places because it sometimes doesn't work out, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying. You have to keep doing it because you're always going to learn something from it. If I didn't continue to try to educate myself on entrepreneurship, I would have never met my co-founders or people in my cohort this year. I feel like they're always encouraging.
What was the most challenging part about being in Female Founders?
Making sure you pace yourself and stay on track. Making sure you are putting in the work, that's probably been one of the most difficult things. Everyone has a busy schedule, especially in school. You're trying to juggle everything but also prioritize what you're passionate about, which would be this startup.
What are your next steps?
Right now it’s the app. Ads on your phone or pop-ups aren't effective. We envision this at Ponce City Market or Little Five Points or local college campuses. Tattoo artists are our focus right now, but imagine if this was completely redone for people in different businesses. We want to focus on small business owners because they don't have this. I feel like they are underrepresented within the advertising realm.
Rachel and I were able to get more grant funding for our startup. We’re going to continue to test and participate in other, larger competitions.
What books would you recommend to those interested in entrepreneurship?
I think one thing that stood out to me was that you have to put in such hard work at the beginning, but it doesn’t get noticed until the end.
It’s about product designing and physical aspects. If you’re doing anything physical, read this one.
It’s about the startup and how it was created. I really like how it creates an experience. I want to do that in the tattoo or small business industry.
Georgia Tech’s Female Founders is now accepting applications for the Spring 2024 cohort. Apply by 5 p.m., Monday, Feb. 19. CREATE-X has also opened up applications for their 12-week, summer accelerator, GT Startup Launch. Apply for GT Startup Launch by March 19 and create your own startup!