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United States



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Speaker Bio

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.


In early 2017, she released her first print book, The Starting Guide, a three-part book that talks about her journey, a guide for those interested in app development but not sure where to start, and business 101 tips.


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.

Keynote Topic #1

Mobile App Mapping & Strategy

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.

Sheena started her first tech company, Sheena Allen Apps, as a senior in college. With no technical background, Sheena bootstrapped her mobile app company to house five apps and generated millions of downloads. In building her company through trial and error, Sheena was all able to master how to map out the idea of a mobile app before ever contacting a mobile developer.

After realizing that not having the proper strategy and flow chart mapped out, the lack of preparation and knowledge would cost more time and money when the app entered into the development stage.

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.

The interactive workshop, called App It Out, will include working hands-on with attendees to allow them to see the missing pieces in their app idea. The beginning of the workshop starts with attendees doing an elevator pitch of their app idea to test how or if their idea is as well-defined as they think. Throughout the workshop, attendees will sketch out the first few pages of their mobile app, challenge each other on holes in their flow process, complete competitive analysis, discuss funding options, traction, hiring developers, and preparing for marketing before and after launching their app.

Keynote Topic #2

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
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