Cheryl Contee is the Chair and Founder of a digital marketing agency, Do Big Things. Before founding Do Big Things, she co-founded Fission Strategy and Attentive.ly. Attentive.ly is a tech startup specializing in influencer marketing technology and was acquired in 2018, making it the first tech startup with a black female founder on board in history to be acquired by a NASDAQ-traded company.
In 2019, Cheryl released her book, Mechanical Bull, which details her history as a non-traditional startup founder. Cheryl is also part of the leadership at The Impact Seat, an organization focused on democratizing access to capital in America and around the world.
She received her B.A. from Yale University and has an International Executive M.B.A. from Georgetown University.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- How Cheryl Contee began her entrepreneurship journey, got her first clients, and made a million dollars in revenue in the first year
- Cheryl recalls how she started Attentive.ly and the early challenges
- What it was like raising capital for Attentive.ly and her experience with racism
- How — and why — Cheryl joined The Impact Seat
- Lessons from The Impact Seat team
- Unique companies The Impact Seat is funding
- The backstory of the Attentive.ly acquisition
- Cheryl shares lessons from her mentors
In this episode…
In entrepreneurship and raising capital, you would think all that matters is investing in businesses with the highest likelihood of going public or businesses with a promising exit. But that’s not the case. Racism is still a significant factor that determines who gets funded — and by how much.
Cheryl Contee experienced racism firsthand when she was raising capital for Attentive.ly. An investor told her blatantly that she could not bring the great product and idea to the market. Shocking, right? Wait until you hear how Cheryl overcame that setback, took Attentive.ly to a big exit, and how she thinks investors can do better.
Tune in to this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast with Dr. Jeremy Weisz featuring Cheryl Contee, the Chief Innovation Officer at The Impact Seat. They discuss Cheryl’s entrepreneurial journey, her encounter with racism in the startup world, what she’s doing to change the narrative through The Impact Seat, lessons along the way, and more. Stay tuned.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- “[Top Black Business Leader Series] CAbikes: Barefoot until age 17 to PhD at Berkeley -with Christopher Ategeka [Inspiration]”
Sponsor for this episode
At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution.
We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.
When you use our proven system, all you need is an idea and a voice. We handle the strategy, production, and distribution – you just need to show up and talk.
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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
Jeremy Weisz 0:19
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, Founder of InspiredInsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs leaders and today is no other Cheryl Contee I’m going to formally introduce in a second Cheryl I always like to point out other episodes you’ll check out on InspiredInsider.com. You know, I love hearing the stories that not just the triumph, but the challenge stories. And one of my favorites of all time favorite podcast had done over over 10 years was Chris Ategeka. And, Chris, most people will probably have never heard of Chris, but he’s founder of two nonprofits to for profits. And his story was like, they should make a movie out of it, Cheryl, maybe you’ll help make it, you know, The Impact Seat will like make that happen. Somehow. He grew up in Uganda at seven years old, he became an orphan because both his parents died of AIDS, being the oldest of five children and became the head of the household. And his brother died while he was taking him to the hospital. And so he started a nonprofit to rehab bikes to make them into bike ambulances so that people can take their loved ones to the hospital faster, but was interesting, he won a lottery in his village to go to the US speaks nine languages, he end up going to the US to getting his PhD in college at Berkeley, just an amazing story. I mean, it’s so people check it out, Chris Ategeka on InspiredInsider.com. And before I introduce Cheryl, today’s episode is brought to you by Rise25 at Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect their dream 100 relationships. We do that by helping you run your podcasts. And Cheryl, I know you’re much of the same. The number one thing for me also is relationships in my life. And I always look for a way to give to my best relationships and profile the companies and people I admire by having them on my podcast. And so if you’ve thought about launching or starting a podcast or you just have questions about it, I think you should start one for sure. It’s I made amazing relationships going on vacations with people have best friends from the people I’ve met by featuring them on my podcast, you can go to Rise25.com, learn more check out more of doing it for over 10 years. And I’m excited to introduce today’s guest Cheryl Contee is Co-founder and CEO of a digital marketing agency Do Big Things before founding Do Big Things. She co-founded Fission Strategy and Attentive.ly and she released her book Mechanical Bull, which details her history is a non traditional startup founder. Attentive.ly is a tech startup specializing in influencer marketing technology. It was acquired in 2018, making the first tech startup with a black female founder on board in history to be acquired by a NASDAQ traded company. It’s crazy, show that that’s actually the case. And she’s also part of leadership at Impact Seat, which I mentioned, which is focused on democratizing access to capital in America and around the world. Cheryl, thanks for joining me.
Cheryl Contee 3:18
Thanks for having me, Jeremy.
Jeremy Weisz 3:20
You know, when I look at your background, Yale, MBA, Georgetown, I’m thinking how did she get started in this whole entrepreneur world when you were in college or even before? What did you want to be when you grew up?
Cheryl Contee 3:34
You know, this is an interesting question that people often ask, and I do a lot of talking to younger people, which is a privilege. And one of the things I tell them is that my job didn’t exist. When I started college, I was part of a cohort that actually not only invented our careers, but helped invent the careers of others. And I think that’s especially true of Generation Z, and younger people that the careers for which they’re preparing themselves don’t really exist. And so, you know, my major was, was ethics, politics and economics at Yale, you know, a lot of a lot of different things. I mainly did it because you can basically take almost any class, if you could justify it, you know, you can just add it to your major because I didn’t I couldn’t make a major again, the career I, you know, the career I ended up being in didn’t exist. But while I was in college, you know, I was a struggling minority scholarship, as many are and I was required to have a campus job. So the highest paying jobs on campus were in the kitchens paid $17 an hour, I’ll take a lot of money. Just for that, they fed me I would take it. We’re still trying to get a minimum wage of $15. So they were unionized. Okay, power of a union, but I hate washing dishes and the idea of washing dishes for 20 to 30 hours a week, you know, just filled me with existential dread. So, you know, and also, you know, here I was already taking on loans investing in myself, what would I learn about? I mean, how many times can you wash a dish and learn anything? So I looked for the next highest paying job on campus. And at the time, it was, you know, the equivalent of working at the help desk in the libraries, helping people with the computers, there are the jam printer, what have you. So I want you to guess, Jeremy, how much that job paid?