PE Accelerator Week 3: Aline Sara of NaTakallam

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NaTakallam is one of five companies participating in Project Entrepreneur’s five-week accelerator program at Rent the Runway Headquarters in New York City. Over the course of the #PEAccelerator, the founders will visit local tech companies, meet with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, and connect with experts at Rent the Runway and UBS to gain insight and advice on topics critical to building and scaling a high-growth company.

For each of the five weeks of the #PEAccelerator, one of the five female founders incubating at Rent the Runway Headquarters will give the PE Community a sneak peek behind the scenes of the accelerator and share favorite moments, lessons learned, and key takeaways from the accelerator that week. For more from our #PEAcceleratorClass, be sure to follow Project Entrepreneur on Instagram (@pjtentrepreneur) to catch the founders’ Instagram Takeovers during the accelerator.

Aline Sara is Founder and CEO of NaTakallam, which is a social enterprise that connects refugees/displaced persons to remote work opportunities in the language sector. To date, more than 110 displaced persons have self-generated $300,000 USD through remote translation jobs or by connecting with over 3500 unique users, who sign up as individuals or through university partnerships (including Emory, GW, Tufts, Duke, NYU and more) for language learning, but also cultural exchange.

NaTakallam’s translation clients include the International Rescue Committee, Malala Fund and Danish Refugee Council.​ In addition to providing displaced people with a viable and rewarding livelihood opportunity, NaTakallam helps foster intercultural exchange and raise awareness around the refugee crisis and the daily challenges of fleeing conflict zones. In this blog post, Aline shares favorite moments, lessons learned and key takeaways from Week 3 of the 2018 PE Accelerator.

Meet The Project Entrepreneur Class Of 2018: Aline Sara, Founder and CEO of NaTakallam

“This week we visited Glossier, [the beauty company founded by Emily Weiss], and learned all about social media marketing. We also attended a lunch-and-learn with Ron Cordes, Co-Founder of the Cordes Foundation, who shared some great advice on building an enterprise in its early stages and also shared insights about preparing for an exit. It was interesting hearing Ron Condes’ talk about the business he launched some 20 years ago—he launched his company in the 1990s, and it was fascinating to compare the startup scene back then to that of today.”

“I also appreciated Ron’s emphasis on the importance of your team/human resources—the people with whom you decide to embark on the journey of launching an enterprise. He offered some priceless advice on managing people relations in a startup space, and I really enjoyed the few adages small tips he shared, like creating a ‘to don’t list.’ I also found his insight on funding quite enlightening and his thoughts on the risk of diluting your company’s intelligence by bringing on investors too early and too quickly.”

“My favorite workshop this week had to be the one on SEO with Jim Wang, Sr. Manager of Search Marketing at Rent the Runway. Jim gave us a glimpse into the fascinating world of Search Engine Optimization  (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Search is an especially powerful marketing tool that many of us are not yet using, and Jim’s explanations really helped us see how a few small changes on our website can go a long way.”

“Next week I plan to work on NaTakallam’s branding and marketing. I am also looking forward to connecting with a few members of Rent the Runway’s staff who work in the various areas in which I need the most support. It’s very encouraging to know we can go to almost anyone at Rent the Runway and ask for their support and advice.”

“I started the PE Accelerator a week late due to prior travel commitments, and my ongoing challenging is finding the time to absorb [information], tackle [to-do items], and then share what I’m learning and the contacts I’m making during the accelerator program with my team at NaTakallam. It’s difficult to take full advantage of the Accelerator while also being fully involved in the venture I’m managing. It has been especially hard because my startup is intrinsically tied to current affairs and focused on refugees—June 20 was World Refugee Day, and then the Supreme Court upheld the Muslim travel ban on June 26, which is catastrophic news for refugee resettlement in the U.S. and the wider need to create a more welcoming society.”

“NaTakallam has a strong social component, and our team feels strongly about their responsibility to keep abreast of current happenings and address them within our business and with our followers and the communities we serve.”

“​What I love most about my fellow PE Accelerator Participants is the diversity of backgrounds of the female founders in this group and their companies. We have scientists, advertising and marketing experts, humanitarians and more. It’s a fascinating mix, and it is nice to have one-on-one moments during which we get to know each other. Each woman’s personal story adds so much to understanding their business, and there is so much more to learn through in-depth conversations that lets us get to know each other at a much more profound and intimate level.”

Are you a female founder interested in joining our Accelerator Class next year? Sign up for the PE newsletter to be the first to know when applications for the Project Entrepreneur Venture Competition open this fall: