How Entrepreneur Lauren Wilson Aims to Bridge Employee Scheduling Gaps with her Tech Venture ImIn, Inc.

Welcome to another episode of The Female Founder with Bridget Fitzpatrick, Co-founder of ASBN and the CBT Automotive Network. The Female Founder is a show all about helping women grow their businesses and reach their full potential. Each episode will highlight inspiring stories and advice from female entrepreneurs to help you build and grow your business. This show is designed to inspire and motivate other female founders to be the best entrepreneurs they can be. Today’s guest is solving a problem many small businesses are experiencing in light of labor shortages and remote working habits. Her app, ImIn, takes a modern approach to employment and work schedules. Please welcome, Lauren Wilson, Founder and CEO of ImIn.

ImInTranscription: 

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Lauren, thank you so much for joining us today.

Lauren Wilson:
Thank you for having me.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Now a lot’s been going on. I know you recently took the leap from Chime Solutions, where you were chief of staff, and to now launching your own app. Can you first talk to us a little bit about your background?

Lauren Wilson:
Yes. After I graduated from the University of Georgia, I went into my family’s business, which is in the outsource call center industry. Around that time, there was a lot of conversations on the team around absenteeism and how can we solve this daily problem that a lot of businesses, and even outside of the industry, experience.
And so I started to develop this application to where, if someone is called out that day or is absent that day, I was making those hours available through the application. Really just trying to solve a problem, a gap that we experience in, like I said, in that industry and in a lot of industries.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
So you really, you saw a need in your own business and started it for yourself and then thought this would be great for a lot of other businesses as well.

Lauren Wilson:
Right. And to my background, I started on the HR side of the house. And so I think that generated some of the interest that I have in the company that I started. I was closely involved with the employees and understood why they’re missing work. I heard a lot of stories. There’s a lot of single moms and circumstances that don’t allow them to come to work.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Right.

Lauren Wilson:
And then I switched more over to the operations side of the house and there was involved in, okay, we get the stories, but how this impacts the business and how can we get this to close that gap for the business. I was trying to marry the two to develop a product where the employees that needed flexibility are given the flexibility, and then the businesses also benefited and we’re closing some of the gaps that we experience.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Great. So now the ImIn app is in, now you’re working with other industries. Do you have specific industries where it works best in?

Lauren Wilson:
I’m starting in the call center industry just because that’s where my background is, but I do think it can be expanded outside of that. I think there’s retail, fast food, industries like that that also experience the same problem around absenteeism, and really retention. I think it’s a retention tool. I think COVID changed a lot of things and employees now want flexibility. And so the ImIn app allows for that, and it allows for people that weren’t typically given that flexibility.
And so I’m really trying to target specific industries, starting with the call center industry, but with that have employees that typically weren’t given the flexibility that other higher level employees may have.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Flexibility and efficiency as well.

Lauren Wilson:
Exactly.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Everybody’s looking for it right now.

Lauren Wilson:
Exactly.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Taking the leap from leaving Chime Solutions and launching your app, what was that like?

Lauren Wilson:
Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and never really thought that that was my path. I actually used to say, “I’m good, on the entrepreneurship path.”

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Oh yeah.

Lauren Wilson:
But really, it kind of fell into my lap. Once I was trying to understand how I could develop this product and the vision that I had for it, it just made sense. It was so successful. Internally it made sense to spin it out and to hopefully it can benefit other companies.
So it wasn’t planned. It was not what I thought my path was. I expected to stay at Chime Solutions and grow there. But yeah, I think I have a different thought process. When I would be in meetings at Chime, I think my dad and some of the seasoned executives, they have a different mindset around, you come to work, you come to work every day. You don’t miss work. You stay at a job for a while and you grow with that company.
And I think my mindset, just from being a millennial, I guess, is just different. And so I would be in a lot of conversations and meetings, before the product was developed, trying to challenge that thought of, okay, employees don’t just want a bonus. They don’t just want … We can’t throw a gift at them. They want the actual flexibility to be able to come when it works for me. And so it just morphed into a product, which I guess started my entrepreneurial path.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
That’s great. Now a person very close to me just recently left her family business, and it took her a really long time to figure out if that was the right thing for her to do. She was so embedded. She was with it for years, just like you. What kind of feedback did you get from your family when you decided to do this?

Lauren Wilson:
“Go for it.”

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Good, good.

Lauren Wilson:
Yeah. I think my family was the biggest driver. I think if it was up to just me, I probably would’ve been a little bit more hesitant. But because again, the success of the product and then them understanding my vision for it.
And then also, they’re entrepreneurs as well so their feedback was, “Yeah. Go for it. I think this could be something really big.” And it’s a way to carve my own lane as well.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
That’s great. They probably saw you were very passionate about it and saw it working, so they realized that it was definitely a great idea.

Lauren Wilson:
Exactly, exactly.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
For sure. That’s awesome. Now what advice would you give other female entrepreneurs that are thinking about starting their own business?

Lauren Wilson:
Kind of the advice I just said, go for it. I think that there’s a lot of things around women and what we can’t do or what we shouldn’t do. And I think we’re starting to shift that narrative now. And as a woman, we can do all of the things that we want to do. We can be moms, we can be wives, we can be business women, we can do all of that.
And so I think my advice would be to not let society or whoever is in the background, to get behind, to make you not go after your dreams. I think we’re multifaceted and we can do a lot of things. So go for it, and you’ll be successful.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
I love that. We can do a lot more than we think we can, right?

Lauren Wilson:
Exactly.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Now Black women-owned businesses are really making up more entrepreneurs these days than any other segment. And they’re finding the most challenges when it comes to gaining access to capital. You recently received some seed funding from Collab Capital, correct?

Lauren Wilson:
Correct.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yes. And can you talk to us about that experience?

Lauren Wilson:
Yeah. I definitely went through some of the things that you’re talking about. I pitched to quite a few different investors and teams, or potential investors. And what I found was the feedback was that I needed to go test the product, which was interesting to me because I had tested the product for a year.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Right.

Lauren Wilson:
And I had data behind that, and I had users that were on the application already. And so it was just an interesting dynamic that I thought that I was starting from a further point than a lot of startups, because I did have an idea, but you’re investing in more than the idea. I actually have a finished product, with users, and with data behind its success.
Yeah, I don’t know why that exists. And I hope that we can continue to shift that narrative because there are a lot of successful female Black entrepreneurs, but the reality is, we need capital in order for our businesses to continue to grow. And so I’m hoping that that narrative, I think it is shifting and I hope it continues to shift.
I was fortunate that Collab is actually, they’re Black-owned as well, Black-owned fund. And so that was part of our chemistry, I think. They believed in me and the concept. And also that I am a Black woman and that their mission is to invest in other Black entrepreneurs. I was fortunate to experience that, but I also did experience the other side of not believing in me and my concept, even though it wasn’t really a concept, it’s an actual product and fully developed. Yeah.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, like you said, it had been tested. So, “Okay. I’ve tested it. Here you go.”

Lauren Wilson:
Exactly. I had data of nine months, and users, and a whole company as a client that I’m starting out with. And so I wasn’t starting from just an idea. I wasn’t starting from, I need to develop the product or I need a customer. Those things were already there. And a lot of the feedback that I … One investor told me I needed to go get to two million dollars in revenue and I’m like-

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Wow.

Lauren Wilson:
“I need money to do that. I need a team, I need a lot of things for me to get to two million dollars in revenue.”
It’s a conundrum because it’s like they, I guess, want to test you out to see if you can get to a certain place before they invest. But for the entrepreneur, I need capital in order for me to get to that place to prove to you that I’m worth investing in.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
That’s for sure. Now there’s been times in the past where I felt like I was treated unfairly because I’m a woman. Especially on our other side, we have a company called CBT News, which caters to the automotive industry, which is predominantly male.

Lauren Wilson:
Male.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Right. Can you recall a time that you may have been treated differently because you’re a woman, or unfairly?

Lauren Wilson:
Let me think about that.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Maybe working at Chime with so many people that you managed.

Lauren Wilson:
I would say, I think in this new industry. Although the tech industry is … There’s a lot of women that are coming up in the tech industry, I do think it’s still male dominant. And so I think I’ve experienced a few times with … My whole team is men. I work with literally all men every day. And so one is actually an investor. One potential investor made a comment about that and was asking about my team dynamics. And I can’t remember the exact question, but basically he wanted to meet with those individuals and not me, even though I’m the founder of the company, because he wanted to get, I guess, whatever the feel was from them.
Which made me feel a little uneasy because I’m the one that started the company. I’m the founder of the company, I’m the CEO of the company. And so whatever information you’re trying to get about the company, I will have. But his attention was definitely directed towards my team members. Once finding out who they were, it was completely directed towards them. And the conversations all shifted there, which was a little crazy.
Yeah, it is, it is. I think there’s so much education that men are not blaming them or bashing them, but we go through so much. We read all the, lean in and we stand up, we want to be heard. And I feel like that women are doing all that they need to do, but there’s still an education process for men that they need to understand when they say … They might not realize it.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Exactly.

Lauren Wilson:
Maybe this is the way they were raised. This is the way business has been for so long, that sometimes you might say things or do things that make us feel like you don’t value what we have to offer.
Exactly. That’s how I felt.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, yeah.

Lauren Wilson:
That’s exactly how I felt, that whatever information that you needed, I couldn’t provide that to you, that someone else could provide that to you. And I think, to your point, I think that there are shifts happening now. And women being in those leadership roles, that’s becoming more popular.
I saw a thing on Instagram recently and it said like, “I met the CEO.” And it was someone replying and said, “How was he?” And they said, “She.” And I was like, “Yes, that’s so powerful, because it’s not always a he anymore.| There are women that are in these positions, and we should start to respect and honor that, honestly.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. We do the same thing when someone mentions your doctor, they say “he” or your-

Lauren Wilson:
Right, “What did he say?”

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Right. “What did he say?”

Lauren Wilson:
She—

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
She, right.

Lauren Wilson:
It can be a she.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Exactly. So starting ImIn, talk to us about one of the challenges that you faced and overcame and you were proud of.

Lauren Wilson:
Yeah. I think one of the biggest things was … I guess I considered it a non-technical founder. And so I think there’s some founders in the tech industry that actually have a background in coding and development, software development. And I don’t technically have that, I’m more on the business side. And so I think the other thing that you typically see is, if there is a founder that’s nontechnical, there may be a co-founder that’s technical.
And so I’ve had to overcome, more specifically in these investor conversations, that hurdle of, “Do you really know what it takes, because you don’t have the software development background.” And I’m proud of myself because I think how I’ve handled that is, I don’t think we should box people and companies into specific things. I think that although I may not be a technical founder, there’s business aspects that are just as important-

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Absolutely. Right.

Lauren Wilson:
… for the company to get up and running. And so I’ve focused on my strengths, and which is the business side and that’s where I grew up, that’s what I’ve seen. And I can learn just like someone that’s a technical founder would have to learn the business side, I can learn the things that … And that’s what I’ve been investing in, learning those things. And developing and hiring the right people so they can help me develop that side.
I have a team now of developers. I have a product manager now. And so I work very closely with them every single day and trying to overcome whatever the feelings are. I think, like I said about boxing in, I think people, if you don’t have this specific background or if you’re a woman, whatever these qualifications are that we feel like people have to have in order for them to be successful, that’s what I’ve been trying to overcome.
So yes, I’m a Black woman. I’m Black. I am a woman and I’m a non-technical founder. And so I think all of those things are all hurdles that I’ve had to really talk through with people that are interested.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Absolutely. Now my husband and I own ASBN, and we’re about to launch another business next year. So much-

Lauren Wilson:
Oh awesome.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
And you know how much work it takes to launch a business. How do you balance spending time with family and doing things on your own with the business?

Lauren Wilson:
Yeah, so that’s something that is … I’m glad you asked me that. That’s something that’s very important to me. I think there’s this culture really around social media that it’s like, work until you can’t work anymore and then work some more. And it’s like, I personally just don’t believe in that. I don’t think I’m as productive, I don’t think I’m as efficient, when I don’t take the time to do some of these other things that matter to me.
Family is very important to me. Working out, I work out a lot. Those are things that I’m not willing to compromise on. I’m not willing to give up … It can wait an hour. I just want to go to a second class, it can wait. So that’s my belief, because I won’t be able to run the company if I’m not in good health. That’s my philosophy on it. Just not something I’m willing to compromise on. I’m going to make sure that my health, my mental health, everything is in check so that I can come to the meeting and be present and there and run the company. I know myself and I know that I will not be able to do that if I’m lacking on some of these other things.
Time management is something that I think is a strength of mine. And so I’m good at managing and planning out and figuring out what I need to do with my day. I take it day-by-day to understand what needs to happen. But I have a new niece now, I’m a new aunt. And so she’s here in Atlanta and that’s very important. I’m a former cheerleader. We go to tumbling class together.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Oh that’s great.

Lauren Wilson:
So that’s something that I build into my schedule. That’s something that I want to do with her and develop that relationship.
Yeah, I think I’m a little non-traditional in the sense with that answer, with entrepreneurship. I think a lot of times it’s work until 7:00 AM and then go to sleep for an hour and work. I will be a, non-productive, not effective leader if I do that. That’s just me.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
I think that’s great advice. Yeah. For any entrepreneur or small business owner. Because we do always hear on social media, and the message out there is rise and grind, and you can sleep when you die, and you can-

Lauren Wilson:
Right. We’re early—

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
But if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your business.

Lauren Wilson:
Exactly. That is my philosophy on that, and that’s where I’m standing on that. So whenever the things are for whoever’s starting a business that is important to them, I would suggest that you invest in those, because the reality is, the work that comes with it never stops. Even when you sleep, even for the hour-

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Lauren Wilson:
… there’s still work to do. So I might as well optimize my time and figure out how can I be most effective and efficient. And that’s with getting sleep, working out, and doing things that I like to do. And that’s not all the time, that doesn’t take up most of my time, but I do carve out the time to do that.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
I think that’s so important. So important.

Lauren Wilson:
I agree.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yes. Do you have any mentors or people that you look up to, whether it be someone on a podcast or someone close to you?

Lauren Wilson:
Yeah, my mentors I would say is my family. Really all of them, my brother, my dad and my mom, and for different reasons. My mom and I are very, very close. She helps me with just the thinking through the day-to-day. And some simple things, “How can I respond to this email? What’s the most effective way to respond to this email?” And so she leads from that perspective.
My dad is more of a vibrant, very out there leader. I would say Barry, his presence is known. And I think he also just has a lot of experience in all facets, and fundraising, and leading a company, and selling a company, hiring people. He has just experience with everything. And so I think my brother and I both look up to him a lot from a business perspective because there’s just things that I’m like, “What’s the best decision,” and he’s my sounding board. I’m thinking of it this way, and sometimes he’s like, “Yeah,” and then sometimes he’s like, “I think maybe this way is the best way.” So that’s been very helpful.
And same with my brother, my brother, a newer entrepreneur compared to my dad, but he also now has built a business and has multiple locations and has sold that business. And so he has experience too with what are some tactics in starting a business as a millennial in this day and age. I think that’s a different perspective than like I said, some of my dad’s thought process is, “Go to work, stay at work. You’re never late. You’re on …” All those things, where I think my brother has more of a, I guess, modernized view on the workplace and how to build a business that way. I would say all of them are very important, both personally in my decision-making and professionally, for sure.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
I love that. That’s great. Now let’s talk about ImIn a little bit more. So you’re helping small businesses. Talk about what’s next for ImIn? Where are you with the launch process?

Lauren Wilson:
Yeah. I officially launched August 1st.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Congratulations.

Lauren Wilson:
So it’s been like 45 days. Thank you. And it’s been really busy. We’ve had a lot of demos, which is really exciting because I want the opportunity … I want to be able to talk about how it could benefit a company. Yeah, that’s where at. We started August 1st, officially and we’re in full sell mode.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Okay, great.

Lauren Wilson:
Full growth mode at this time. I hired a full team of people before August 1st, so we were in the background, working out everything to get ready for the launch. And then now that we’ve launched, we are just trying to get in front of companies so we can explain the benefit of the ImIn application.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Well, maybe in an elevator pitch right now, for those business owners watching, could you talk to us about what ImIn does for small businesses?

Lauren Wilson:
Yeah. Yes, exactly. So it’s helping absenteeism, and it provides flexibility for employees. The simplest way that I can explain it is workforce optimization. Shrinkage, what we call it, absenteeism optimization. We allow the hours that you typically would lose out from a call out or PTO, just things that happen and individuals can’t come to work. And whether that’s a revenue loss or it’s just your workforce just isn’t as efficient because that person is out, we are optimizing that and making those hours available to a available pool of individuals to work them.
Specifically in the call center industry, it’s a revenue generator because every time someone works an hour that would’ve been lost is now revenue that they have. And for the employees it’s flexibility. So it allows them to go into the application. They can sign up as early or as quickly as right before the shift. So if they want to work at 10:30 and it’s 10:25, they can sign up for that. Or they can plan ahead and develop their schedule however they want. It provides flexibility for them, and allows them to take care of some of the things that they may have going on as well.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Nice.

Lauren Wilson:
It’s kind of a win-win for both the employee and the employer, trying to close the gap on some of the absenteeism things, which it cuts into. Because if I say I can work at 10:00 then I can work at 10:00. So I’m picking my schedule and I’m there because I picked it.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Okay, great. Love that. Now in the next five years, where do you see yourself and ImIn?

Lauren Wilson:
Huge growth, I have huge growth expectations for ImIn. I have large license goals. So it’s per license, per month is the model. And I really think that it can have a lot of impact on a lot of different industries, honestly. Like I said, I’m starting in the call center industry just because that’s where I grew up. That’s the background, but I think it can benefit a lot of different industries.
And so I’m excited to see how it can benefit those industries and just grow. I expect a lot of growth in the next five years for ImIn.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Absolutely. Now for those that want to take a look at ImIn, where can they find that information?

Lauren Wilson:
The website is imin2.com. We have a LinkedIn profile with that same URL. I have my LinkedIn, I don’t know my username, but Lauren Wilson is my name. And my email, if you want to contact me that way is LWilson@imin2.com.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Awesome, awesome. Well, Lauren, thank you so much for joining us. We’d love to have you back, maybe in a little while to see how things are going in ImIn.

Lauren Wilson:
Yeah, I would love that. Thank you.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Thank you.

Speaker 1:
This is The Female Founder Show with host an entrepreneur, Bridget Fitzpatrick, exclusively on ASBN. If you are a female founder in the Atlanta market and would like to help other female founders with your inspiring story, we would love to hear from you.


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