Monday Motivation from Maude Okrah, Founder & CEO of Bonnti

Mondays can be rough and, sometimes, we can all use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.

This week, we chat with Maude Okrah, Founder & CEO of Bonnti, “a mobile platform which helps women navigate and simplify their hair experience.”

What inspired you to start your business? 
It was entirely personal reasons that inspired me to go on this entrepreneurial journey. I’ve been lucky to travel to a number of different cities and countries for work: everywhere from China to Houston to London to D.C. (where I reside now) and after finding an apartment and getting settled the top thing that was on my mind was finding a hairstylist. As a black woman, our hairstylists are a big part of our lives and finding a good one helps to adjust to a new city that much easier! However, I really struggled with the process of finding good stylists in each new city I went to. I had so many bad experiences with all the different stylists. It then dawned on me that in this day and age finding great stylists shouldn’t be this hard! If I can get on my phone and order a Lyft, shop for new clothes, and get my groceries delivered why shouldn’t I be able to find a great hairstylist with the same ease? This frustration and desperate need for a solution led to Bonnti! Bonnti is a mobile app that allows women of color the opportunity to find stylists, discover styles and build community all within a convenient and fun platform.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? 
The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is learning and becoming fluent in the language of tech. As a non-technical founder, there have been quite a few hurdles I’ve had to face when it comes to app development. I’ve had a crash course in the world of tech.

What’s been the greatest reward? 
The biggest reward has been seeing my vision come to life! We recently launched in the Apple Store and it’s been surreal to have women come up to me on a near daily basis with words of encouragement and excitement that something finally exists that solves such a crucial problem in our community. 

What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
I’d love to see more women, especially women of color, dive deeper into the tech world and come up with solutions to solve the unique everyday problems we face. I’ve learned so much throughout this entrepreneurial journey that I’d be remiss not to share it with any other woman who even shows an inkling of interest in this field. I mentor a small group of women from my alma mater and the D.C. area, helping them navigate the challenges I faced when beginning on this journey.

Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough? 
I’m inspired and motivated by other women, who share in my struggle with finding a stylist and also find empowerment by what we are trying to accomplish. I’ve left meetings that haven’t gone so well, only to get on the Metro and have women come up to me and ask me where I got my hair done and how she’s struggled to find a good stylists or community for hair (true story on many occasions!). When I share the work I’m doing with Bonnti they get excited and share their personal stories as well. These moments help me realize that Bonnti is needed right now and can really make a difference in women’s lives.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
It’s all about the 3Ps: patience, persistence, and passion.  While the entrepreneurial world is very fast-paced, you have to learn there are times where you have to exercise patience, as stressful as that may be, follow your intuition. You have to remain persistent. No matter how many no’s you get in one day, even in the face of rejection you have to keep trying. You also have to love what you do; be obsessed with it! This space is a roller-coster, there are high levels of ambiguity and if you don’t have passion you may not survive.   

What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week? 
To get my mind and body ready for the week ahead I like to go for an early morning run while listening to a lit playlists. After that, I do some journaling to help me focus my thoughts which help create intentions for the week ahead. You can’t underestimate the power of the pen and a good playlist to get you started for the week.

For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Francesca Kennedy, Founder of Ix Style Water For Children, which seeks to, “empower women through education, commerce, and production.” For Francesca, the passion to give back is in her blood.