For this month’s #MakingHistory series, Generation Progress is highlighting young black business leaders in honor of Black Business Month. This week we spoke with Alicia Seay, a young professional who helped launch Wrk, a gamified innovation management program for accelerators and incubators.
Can you tell me about your work?
Currently, most of my time is spent between building Wrk, a gamified innovation management platform for accelerators and incubators, and consulting. From time to time, I find myself building a website or tinkering with things, but my work rests heavily on creating pathways to success for people and organizations working to actualize meaningful ideas/concepts; but also to help create a societal balance through building local, regional, national, and global world changing companies. Some clients have small companies they seek to serve just the local community with, while others intend to scale as great as one can imagine.
Wrk, itself, came about through years of redesigning and reworking another concept. From time-based marketplaces to makerspaces, one day my partner, Drew, realized a potential in something we were already working on that eventually spun into a beautiful user experience and set of tools that could guide people through a variety of business processes in a smooth, fun, and engaging way. Together, we wanted to make the job of business startup support organizations easier, so that they’d then be able to scale-out their ability to serve existing or aspiring entrepreneurs and companies. Soon we’ll be launching an online teen entrepreneurship program through Wrk that will essentially offer youth (and their participating family members) a practical way to start a company, gain support, then maintain and analyze progress.
How did it all start, what were some of the growing pains you encountered, and how has it developed over time?
During my senior year in college, I started an idea incubation company, the Illuminated Ventures Project, with a friend whose efforts were synchronistically aligned with many of my life missions. I spent that winter as a contractor working on a site with a company then called Ironworks Consulting, soon acquired by ICF International. Afterwards, there was no way I could pull away from working in tech. Whilst building out a project under our first company, we began freelance work together making websites and consulting on social enterprise, gamification, new economics, and more to eat and pay bills.
As many business owners know, entrepreneurship comes with successes and failures, slow times (which can be good or bad) and moments of rapid requests and speedy service. Both of which help push you along, regardless of how they feel at the time. I realized that literally, in every moment, there’s a lesson if you’re open or observant enough to recognize. In my lowest times, I began seeking out the lessons I could find instead of wasting too much energy on feeling down. Eventually, my mind became consistently sharper and my skin grew thicker as lows became interesting moments where I knew a gem, that I could use moving forward, would emerge every time.
What advice would you give to young people trying to follow in your footsteps?
Start today. Keep going tomorrow. Appreciate yesterday. Turn lows into lessons. Be mindful and actionable in attaining whatever you want because if you want it, you can have it, if and only if, your actions are deliberate enough. Despite things you may lack from materials to particular know-how, just keep going and as you make way, your needs will be met. It’s okay to feel discouraged at times or other feelings that come from success and failure; understand that people you may not even know may be rooting for you. And lastly, while cliché, never be afraid to think outside of the typical. I always tell my associates to consider everything, but to also consider the things you may not often consider. Sometimes to get what you want or to make great change, you have to really pull YOU out of yourself.
Follow Alicia Seay on Twitter to stay up to date on the great work she’s doing, and don’t forget to keep your eyes on our Instagram for our posts highlightin young Millennials making a difference in their communities.