The journey of an entrepreneur is full of crests and troughs, it is the harsh lines of realities that often toss and turn overnight which may either end up making one hit rock bottom or ascend the stairs towards glory. Such is the incredible story of Sheri Atwood, the Founder and CEO, SupportPay, a courageous woman, who couldn’t despair under any circumstances.
The idea behind starting SupportPay was propelled by her own personal experiences that she came across, during her initial years. “My divorce was amicable, but I had no idea how complex and stressful it would be to manage child support and share expenses with my ex,” Sheri expresses. She understood that enforcing child support agreement is difficult and time-consuming. Hence, she wanted to create a platform to focus on what she is most passionate about – helping parents and children.
She ethically approached the task to raise funds, and was able to successfully raise over $7M for SupportPay including a $4M Series ‘A’ round in December 2016, and the company was valued at $19M. Seven months later after achieving this milestone, all of a sudden she was fired by the board and replaced by a man they brought in. It was during this time that, the company saw its worse time, where the product was broken, most of the employees had left and customers were lost. The board announced to the shareholders that they would be liquidating the company, despite Sheri’s plea to come back and get the company back on track.
After toiling for long hours and working meticulously in early 2018, Sheri formed a new company, took a personal loan, used the rest of her savings and bought the SupportPay assets back. She now owns the assets, created with nearly $5M in investments, while gifting a small amount of equity back to the previous investors for their contributions and support.
Technology – A Momentous Stride
Sheri is of the opinion that constant changes in the market and technology force an organization to be nimble. Technology is a paperless flair that has bought salient modification into play. SupportPay seeks to use technology to automate anything that is done manually, while hiring a team of professionals that are passionate about their mission and strive every day to meet their customer needs in the most resourceful way possible.
Leading from the Forefront
Sheri is a resilient, energetic, resourceful personality and lives by the motto “Don’t talk about it, be about it!”. After being in the business arena for several years, she has jotted down all the vital attributes of becoming a leader and avidly implements them. She abides by the virtues of having a vision, maintaining integrity, being courageous, resourceful, and persistence. Her rich experience has sculpted her personally and professionally, teaching her life’s valuable lessons along the way. Pertaining to this, Sheri also expresses her views regarding the ever-prevalent momentum of gender bias and partial behavior that the business world has for women.
“I believe the biggest issue with the lack of women in leadership positions is the gender bias that occurs in the business world. Women are held for a higher standard, but can not make any mistakes. I believe this gender bias is not deliberate but the only way to change this is to continue to recognize woman leaders and have a deliberate focus on making sure that the members of the leadership team are diverse, both in terms of gender and race. Without this deliberate and focused effort to diversify leadership, people will continue to hire people they know, who tend to look like them.”
In addition to this, Sheri states that it is incredibly important to continue highlighting the success of women leaders, so that the market continues to see the success that these women provide to the organization and the market as a whole.
Words of Wisdom
As Sheri has built her career on the strong foundations of her dreams and aspirations, she believes that every woman out there should pursue their ambitions and reach zeniths of success.
Her most prominent advice to women is that once they step in this world of entrepreneurship, they should be prepared for an endless and tiresome voyage of continuous highs and lows. With every step, women should keep on demonstrating in order to achieve their desired results. As once the task is completed successfully, no one can argue and doubt an individual’s true potential. Lastly, seek to work for organizations that believe in a diverse team or create such a team of your own.
Beholding the Future
“My hope is to make SupportPay a huge success, delivering a much needed solution to help the millions of parents and children, who have to deal with the complexity of managing child support and sharing expenses,” Sheri expresses. More importantly, she wants to be an inspiration to other women and young girls out there, despite all that she has been through, she was able to persevere and overcome the odds and stand tall amongst all.
In the near future, Sheri aims to create or be a part of an investment firm that is focused and dedicated to the funding of female entrepreneurs. As women still only get 2.2% of venture money and she believes this has to change.