Make Time for Feedback
Qiana Hicks talks about her startup, Pathway Forward, at a Beta event.

Make Time for Feedback

Pathway Forward's founder juggles a Beta accelerator program with getting ready for launch.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my taking the leap to resign from my 21-year-plus career in corporate America to start my own business, Pathway Forward. Although I had started building and developing my business a year and a half prior, it all still feels like it was just yesterday. What a whirlwind it has been! Even though I still have a way to go before I can reach the full scale of operations, I am excited about rolling out the first MVP (minimal viable product) this fall to pilot our readiness program and curriculum. The Pathway Forward readiness curriculum provides youth-facing organizations with the tools to support their mission in helping younger generations plan, prepare, and develop for higher education and career pathways, whether it be corporate careers, trades, or entrepreneurship. We are one step closer to being the bridge to connect youth to the future workforce through education attainment, training, development, and opportunities.

Since my last update, I have completed a 12-week cohort for entrepreneurs with Beta that provided me with several helpful services and information that is important for starting a business and achieving long-term success. I have found that programs like Beta are essential startup kits for entrepreneurs with limited access and resources.
One of the things I enjoyed most during my time in the cohort is participating in the Beta showcase where people from all over come to learn about you and your new business. It was a great experience as I got a chance to see how the market responded to my business, and I was able to get a lot of great feedback from prospective customers and consumers of my business’ products and services.

During the 12-week period, I learned a lot about different resources which are critical for your business early on. I got to hear and learn tips from alumni cohort entrepreneurs who shared some of their lessons learned, success, and failures during their journey of starting up.

I highly recommend entrepreneurs, especially those new to starting a business, to invest in a similar cohort or accelerator program as there is so much to learn in the early stages of a business that these programs offer support, resources, and guidance on. Most accelerator programs are free to attend; some may require a nominal fee. Typically, the entry criteria for entering such a program includes a well thought out business plan, ability to show traction, and a sustainable business model.

Over the course of the 12 weeks, I was able to continue working on my business in parallel to the program, while applying some of the helpful information I was learning.

I look forward to the next phase of my business I’m encroaching upon that will allow me to interact more with my market and prospective customers and consumers.

As a computer science major who loves to innovate, create, strategize, and be in the background, I’ve learned that I have to be the face and voice that imparts a compelling message about our ability and mission to help organizations, businesses, and educational institutions improve lives and create equity for our younger underserved and underrepresented generations. This is yet another hat I’ve recently had to place on top of my engineering hat, and I must say, it’s quickly becoming my favorite of them all.