Welcome to Sky’s the Limit’s Limitless! Blog Series.
Read exclusive interviews with some of the most inspirational and motivating entrepreneurs around, featuring the stories of people who inspire us and encourage us to think differently and #BeLimitless every day. This month spotlights Founder Tiffany Nelson — we hope you enjoy her story.
And, if you’d like to hear more from Tiffany, be sure to join us for Episode 2 of Season Two Limitless! web series in 2023 with even more entrepreneur stories and journeys. Register Today!
Q: What inspired you to start your own business?
A: I started Imagiread from a love of children’s literature, health and wellness and a desire to encourage families to engage in the art of learning together. Back then (13 years ago), I was led to write and self-publish my first children’s book It’s Water Time, Ma! that highlighted the importance of proper hydration and conservation. It was my own personal call to action for community-based educational and environmental change.
Q: What keeps you motivated day-to-day to keep working on your business?
A: My understanding that literacy, language, and communication is the trifecta that establishes healthy actualization. For children, that triangle looks and feels very different — especially if the child struggles to and/or hates to read. As a Community-based educator, it’s imperative that Imagiread, along with our allyship and educational community, continues to center those who are at risk of being behind. We can’t talk equity until we establish what the playing field should be according to those it will benefit. For that, we must instill 21st Century power skills, and the way we do that ethically is ask better questions about the need.
Q: How have mentors and other entrepreneurs played a role in moving your business forward?
A: There are so many, and I’ve tried to afford gratitude to each of them as often as possible. In the same vein, Sky's the Limit has been incredible. I discovered the platform from a fellow entrepreneur. Once I joined, not only was I fortunate enough to have one mentor, but I had two! One based in Texas and the other in India. They are both dynamic IT professionals that helped me to restructure Imagiread’s programming so that it’s ready for web-based applications integration and launch. I won funding to build the MVP solution from Sky' the Limit as well. I can’t say enough how much Sky's the Limit has been fantastic. From the platform to the learning opportunities to the co-marketing, the platform is one that I highly recommend.
Q: What’s the #1 challenge you’ve faced, and how’d you overcome it?
A: This is a loaded, never-ending question but I’ll try and answer it briefly. Here recently, the globe witnessed the advent of a reimagined social justice call to action. It meant that folks everywhere had to be accountable for the perpetuation of lack of true and authentic diversity and inequality. In the educational realm, the prevalence of said intersections presented the globe with a unique opportunity to create something different. I did that, hopeful that our solutions would support learners everywhere but was so bogged down with my day job that I missed a huge opportunity. Since, I’ve had to reestablish operations because we don’t have the capital to sustain without our contracts. It’s been trying times, but it’s also supported the new direction Imagiread is headed towards and for that, I’m grateful.
Q: How did you approach funding for your business?
A: It’s always been bootstrapping. I’ve spent quite a bit on developing and maintaining operations alone. It’s not a walk in the park at all, so here recently (in the last two years), I’ve applied for 39 grants and only received two. The law of large numbers tells me that I should continue to apply, but do not believe that it is the best use of our time and resources. With our newest products, Adventure Packs and Kits, we are looking to crowdfund and apply for microloan products that fit our needs. We are presently positioning the business for the supply and for that we will need business funding.
Q: How do you manage your time between working on your business and other aspects of your life?
A: Here recently, I had to have a long and serious conversation with myself about balancing my life’s contributions and commitments. My family responsibilities are extremely demanding and that leaves little time for me to just do me. I am so grateful that I can dive into my music and stop time for a while. That and creating a solid blueprint for the business from top to bottom has drastically changed the way I approach management and operations.
Q: Any words of wisdom or inspiration you’d give someone just starting out?
A: Connect with your why. Ground how much of it requires you to give more than you have and how authentically you can do that. Use your resources and build a solid community. Once that’s done, believe anything is possible.