Sheena Allen

  • Travels From: San Francisco, CA
  • Fees: $35,000 - $50,000

Tagline: Digital Innovation

Talent Highlights

  • Sheena Allen is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and creative architect.
  • She was born in Terry, MS, and is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, where she received a dual degree in Psychology (B.S.) and Film (B.A.).

Keynote Topics

The age-old traditional banking system was not made for everyone. With over 2 billion people worldwide considered financially underserved and over half of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck and relying on predatory services like payday lenders and title loan services to try to make ends meet, financial inclusion has become a hot topic.

Sheena speaks on the problems ranging from no access to banks due to the increase of banking deserts, being unbanked due to lack of trust in banks or not being able to afford the fees associated with many banks, and millennials being coined the unbanked generation. Tech is now ready to have a significant impact on financial inclusion.

Sheena created her second startup, social fintech company CapWay, to tackle the issues with financial inclusion. Technology has a history of disrupting industries – from Uber to AirBnB.

It is now time technology and new leadership use technology to create access and opportunity for those who don’t fit the model designed by banks years and years ago.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I have this amazing idea for an app?”

Well, a lot of people do! Unfortunately, most people with the idea have no clue what the next step they should take and for those who think they know, they usually assume that means contacting a developer to start coding their idea into an app.

They completely skip over understanding the side of their app that should be well understood before ever reaching out to a developer.

Is this a free app or does it include in-app purchases?
What about UI/UX?
How many similar apps are already available?
Is this for iOS or Android or both?
There is so much to the mapping out of a mobile app that should be done before ever contacting a developer that is never done.

Key lessons from this talk include:

  • Don’t go directly from app idea to app development. That is like having a car (app idea) and tires (app developer), but with no gas (app strategy and mapping).
  • The entire app process – from idea all the way to deployment in the app store.
  • Understanding how the app stores work – Apple AppStore vs. Android
  • How to create a flow-chart
  • What to look for when searching for an app developer and what are the red flags you may be dealing with someone who won’t deliver.

Majority of all startups focus on getting an investment from a VC (venture capitalist) or angel investor. After all, it is the companies who are raising millions and millions of dollars that are being featured by the top media outlets in the world.

However, getting venture capital funding is not the right path for everyone. Many founders focus on raising money and lose focus on building their company or don’t always fully understand what it means to raise money. The reality is that for every investment a company takes, the company because less and less controlled by the founder or founding team.

Bootstrapping has become something that is overlooked. While each has its pros and cons, the media has put way more pros on getting an investment versus bootstrapping.

Sheena Allen bootstrapped her first startup, Sheena Allen Apps, to millions of app downloads while she has raised two rounds of funding for her second startup, CapWay. Sheena can attest to the pros and cons of each side.

Key lessons from this talk include:

  • The reality behind raising money – less control, pressure of getting returns, etc.
  • Other ways of raising funds outside of traditional venture capitalists
  • How to bootstrap as long as you can
  • Acknowledging if VC dollars are right for your business or is bootstrapping a more ideal path

Women and minorities are still fighting to be respected in the tech world. For a culture that has been dominated by the “bro-code” of mainly white men, having diversity in the room is becoming more and more of a demand with numbers showing that more diverse teams are more successful.

From lack of respect to lack of funding, being a minority in tech has been an uphill battle. Though small victories have been won, there is still a long way to go.

Sheena often has spoken about walking in rooms and realizing she has three strikes against her – she’s black, she’s a female, and she’s from Mississippi – a place a lot of the rest of the world think consists of only racists and poorly educated minorities.

If three strikes you’re out is supposed to be the standard, when speaking on woman and minorities in tech, Sheena talks motivate, provide resources, and provides a guide on how being a woman and minority is tech breaks the standard.

Sheena Allen started her first tech company, Sheena Allen Apps, and bootstrapped the media tech company to millions of downloads. While visiting her hometown in Mississippi in late 2015, Sheena took notice of how people in her community were still very dependent on using predatory financial services, such as payday lenders, check cashing, and title loan […]

Sheena Allen started her first tech company, Sheena Allen Apps, and bootstrapped the media tech company to millions of downloads.

While visiting her hometown in Mississippi in late 2015, Sheena took notice of how people in her community were still very dependent on using predatory financial services, such as payday lenders, check cashing, and title loan services.

This led her to start her second startup, CapWay. CapWay is a neobank that also includes financial education and gamified microlending for those who do not fit into the traditional banking system.

Starting CapWay at the age of 27 makes Sheena the youngest black female to have found and operate a neobank.

In late 2016, Sheena made her premiere in She Started It, a documentary film that follows five women around on their startup journey.

Sheena Allen | Digital Innovation

The response from The Starting Guide led Sheena to start App It Out, an interactive workbook, curriculum, and virtual sessions around simplifying app ideas and app development.

Sheena has traveled around the world and spoke on subjects such as owning a successful tech company as a non-technical founder and inclusion in tech.

She has been featured in various publications, including Black Enterprise and EBONY Magazine. Sheena is a 2018 Business Insider Under 30 Innovator and part of the Forbes 30 Under 30 2019 class.

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