Bootcamp & FastPath Member
India Hankins, professionally known as Dolly Monroe, is the founder and CEO of Dolly Monroe Beauty Academy. The school offers licenses to future estheticians in the Florida beauty industry.
What was your inspiration for starting your business?
When I was going to esthetician school myself, I really had a difficult time because I realized that there were some very common issues across the board, no matter what school that I toured. I realized that I was never going to get the hands-on training that I actually truly deserved and was looking for.
Education is going to be time consuming because there’s a lot of programs that take a year to graduate and, in addition to the cost, I didn’t want to come out of beauty school with a ton of debt.
And so once I realized that these three key issues were consistent across the board, I decided to create what I couldn’t find elsewhere, and that was Dolly Monroe Beauty Academy.
I took my experience of all of the things that I went through in school and just wanted to make sure that the students really left knowing and feeling confident about their education, so they were able to explore their career In a confident manner. It’s so helpful knowing what is really out there in the industry waiting for them once they begin.
You’ve just recently completed the FastPath program and came in first place. How has your business been impacted through the participation of FastPath and/or the Bootcamp accelerator program?
A lot has happened in the last six months! I can definitely tell you that. And I say six months because I completed both programs and I’ve made some meaningful connections. I now understand how powerful of an impact that can really make.
At the end of the Bootcamp competition, I was introduced to Chase Bank and from there we’ve been able to completely become positive and profitable this year. Going into the New Year, we’ve been able to build that connection and expand into the Orlando market which will be our second location by the end of the year.
What was your most important lesson you learned during the Founders First programs?
The most important lesson I learned as a founder was to get myself out of the business, so that I could start working on it. I think that I had a new perspective and a new set of lenses to look through when I was in the program; so I was really able to sit down for those hours and dedicate that time to just working on my business.
That way, I could look at it from a bird’s-eye view. There, I could see down onto it and I really resolved the common issues that all business owners have. That’s what I really needed to get us to that next level of growth and expansion.
You’ve seen quite a bit of revenue growth since leaving the program. Can you tell us about that?
We’re planning on a 200% increase this year and it’s been an amazing experience! The best part of that is the forecasting that we’ve been able to grow to understand through the Founders First programs.
It also helped me understand how to put the right people in the right seats at the right place at the right time to be able to take on this new volume of potential students. Just setting up our business to function, flow and have a consistent application across the board has been very helpful to us as a company and as a whole. We’re now profitable this year. In previous years, we were in the negative. I can’t thank Founders First enough.
What was it about the Founders First accelerator programs that interested you?
I think, for me, I really needed that extra push. I needed to see how we could break through our ceiling. We had reached $1 million in revenue. This year we wanted to do even more than that. I thought “OK, we made it to this point, we hit this milestone, but now what?” And that’s investing in our future as a company by educating myself on what future growth and expansion really looks like from the ground up.
I think that really helped me, and I think that’s what I needed. That’s what I was looking to gain from Founders First and that’s exactly what I got.
What’s your advice for a future up-and-coming entrepreneur?
I would say: have fun, relax, breathe and definitely schedule time to work on your business. That’s the best piece of advice that I can give anyone is work on your business and not always just focusing on (especially service-based businesses) the day-to-day operations, because they can really hinder your growth. So, work on it, take the time to dedicate toward your company’s growth, your overall plans for the future, and it will pay off and you’ll get your return.
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