Tech Startups in Nashville have a great opportunity to compete with San Francisco if we do these 3 things right:
1. Partner with universities and build high quality talent pipelines,
2. Get the Nashville community on board with diverse tech companies,
3. build more high growth startup incubators and accelerators that are focused on high growth industry agnostic startups.
Aireka Harvell- Bio
No stranger to obstacles, Nashville native, Aireka Harvell, a Bachelor of Business Administration graduate and female tech entrepreneur, has faced much adversity, yet, she still chooses to see the good in people and in life.
She is a survivor, overcomer, and an achiever. In her youth, she was introduced to a negative self image that would later grow into a core belief that led to negative behaviors, convincing her to run away and become a high school dropout. At the age of 9-years old, Aireka visited a church member’s house for a play date with some friends. During this play date she overheard her friend’s mother, who happened to be a white woman, tell her son that he should not like Aireka’s younger sister because she was yellow and pretty but she advised him it would be better for him to like Aireka because she was brown-skinned and ugly and ugly girls will treat him better. Aireka battled with this belief for many years until her mid-thirties. Growing tired of the abuse she often experienced in relationships and life, she began to pay more attention to her thoughts and decided to change them. She read the book Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba and her life began to change.
Aireka became a first-generation college graduate. She received her bachelor’s degree in business from Cumberland University. She survived cervical cancer and domestic violence. Desiring to be a mother, Aireka was devastated when her doctors told her that it was nearly impossible for her to carry a pregnancy past the first trimester. Aireka did not take the doctor’s at their word and believed she would be a mother of four children and today she has two sons and two daughters ranging between the ages of 18, 17, 15, and 12 years old. Every hardship that was thrown at her, Aireka fought back and persevered.
A single mother of four children, the founder and CEO of Nodat Inc., a published author and speaker, Aireka is a problem solver and inspiration who is always determined to find a solution.
In 2017, she founded Nodat, an actions-driven community marketing platform for small, local businesses, after her fourteen-year-old son asked her if she had heard about a new water park that had opened in their community. Her son was upset that it was the last day of summer and they had missed their opportunity to go to the park. Aireka immediately got to work on finding an answer to her problem.
After realizing that other friends and community members were as uninformed as she was, she realized that the miscommunication could have been avoided by the power of social media.
She became determined to build a mobile app that would reward locals for sharing what they know about businesses across social media. To date, she has over 25,000 downloads across both app stores and over 1,400 registered businesses. She was working full-time and taking classes online at Cumberland University. “Graduating from college allowed me to make history for my family,” said Aireka. “I am the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university and I did that as a single mother of four small children. I often watch the video footage of me walking across the stage to get my diploma and I can hear my four little children screaming in excitement as they watched me reach my goal. It was important to me for my children to see me staying up late to study, researching and writing papers so they would understand the importance of earning an education.”
Aireka left her full-time job at AT&T after spending 10 years in the loyalty and retention organization as a retention agent and team lead of over 180 agents in 2017 to work on building her company full-time. After she left, Aireka experienced many roadblocks and obstacles that should have created setbacks but she managed to persevere and overcome them. dedicated to her goal, she made the decision to downgrade her lifestyle and sold her 5-bedroom home and used the money to invest in her business and pay for every day living expenses for her and her four children.
The tasks of starting and building a company are not for the faint of heart. In addition to the many sleepless nights she spent taking care of her family and working on a successful business she also broadened her experiences, education, and network. Determined to succeed, Aireka and her team conducted more marketing research and learned that small local businesses were losing $1.6T in revenue every year across the United States due to lack of access to sophisticated marketing tools that required large budgets and marketing professionals with the knowledge to use them.
She participated in startup accelerators sponsored by Google for Startups, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, and Founder Gym to learn how to build the team and company to solve this problem. The work paid off. Nodat was selected as one of four startups by the Beta Boom Women’s Investment Fund. She now has an exceptional group of advisors like Robert Jewell, the CEO of Exchange Solutions, a loyalty and retention management company for national chains and Sherry Deutschmann, founder of LetterLogic and BrainTrust.
During the pandemic, Aireka and her team saw the impact coronavirus had on senior citizens. Her company partnered with Mayor John Cooper’s office and the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability’s Care Through Conversation program and rounded up over 500 volunteers to deliver groceries and make weekly phone calls to senior citizens. Even in the most difficult and challenging times, Aireka has found a way to help uplift others.
“You felt crazy. You felt like people were laughing at you because something didn’t work out but you kept going because God put that little speck of hope in your heart- that nagging thing that wouldn’t go away even when you wanted to stop. He saw this day when you could only see your present moment.” -Aireka Harvell