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Join Susan as Nikki and Kiara share their extraordinary journey to create a trailblazing venture, merging their passions for community empowerment, education, and cultural preservation into an awe-inspiring immersive experience.

Raw And Real Entrepreneurship with Nikki and Kiki

Topics covered in the interview

Management Tool

Staying organized

Customer experience

History of twerking

Delegating tasks

Nikki St.John and Kiara Mahan’s Bio

NIKKI ST.JOHN – Creative Director 

Nikki has a BFA in theater from Howard University and is a professional pole dancer and twerk instructor. She is adept at growing an online audience, building brand loyalty and creating a social media presence translating into sales. 

KIARA MAHAN – Business Director 

Kiara has an extensive background in project management  and coordinating. She enjoys organizing and managing large groups of people and is experienced running the behind the scenes operations of various organizations.

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Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Susan Sly 00:00
Hey, everyone, Susan here, I hope you're having an amazing day. In today's episode, you are going to hear from two incredible women who met in an Uber and became founders of the coolest business. And you're going to hear how they stay organized, how they're able to build this while they're working full time. They're navigating life, all these other things going on. The lessons they're learning around along the way on fundraising on getting the word out strategically launching and it is a fun episode, I will tell you that. And today's episode is being brought to you by our friends at AIM7. AIM7 is customized exercise mindfulness and sleep just for you. So if you are stressed out, navigating a lot of life like I am with my dad who's 83, kids, being a wife, and entrepreneur, and investor, getting the workouts in, training for a half marathon, doing all the things, and you're wondering like how can you physically do it all? And maybe you shouldn't be doing as much as you're doing. And could you even be fitter, doing less? Let AIM7 figure all of that out for you. So AIM7 is device agnostic. It works on your Apple, it works on your garmin, and other devices as well. So check it out, go to, put in the code rawandrealaim7, start your free trial. I am NOT an affiliate marketer for AIM7 but I am an investor and an advisor to the company and I just love it. So definitely check it out. Get started with the code rawandrealaim7. And with that, let's get started with this episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.

Susan Sly 01:58
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that brings the no nonsense truth of what is required to start, grow and scale your business. I am your host, Susan Sly.

Susan Sly 02:13
Well Hey, everyone. I hope you're having an amazing day wherever you are in the world and Okay, so have you recently done any ride share? Have you been in a Lyft or an Uber? Actually, I confess, I was in Atlanta and I couldn't get my phone to work. And I literally jumped in a stranger's car coming back from a PGA event at East Lake Golf Club. And I saw these people getting out and I had to get back to my hotel so I could get, if you have flown in Atlanta lately, it is crazy. And I had to, and I'm like, okay, Jesus, I'm just trusting you. Fortunately, he was a very good person. And I have some special skills. For those of you who've been listening a long time, you know, my first job out of college, I was men's maximum security prison guard, but either way, jumped to a strange person's car. But on my way to, I know you all are going to be riding in now. But anyway, on my way to that event, I jumped in an Uber. And I really feel it was a God thing because I, there was this amazing, amazing human behind the wheel. And firstly, I noticed her nails and that always gets my attention. And the second thing, we start a conversation and I could just tell that I said, so what else do you do besides drive Uber? And she said, Well, actually, I have co founded a business. And she started to tell me about that. And I was so impressed. I said, Oh my gosh, I have to have you on the show because the philosophy is that anyone, regardless of any circumstance can become an entrepreneur. And you've heard on the show. You've heard 17 year old entrepreneurs, 12 year old entrepreneurs, you've heard seven year old entrepreneurs on the show. Anyone can become an entrepreneur. So the amazing co founders I have today are absolutely incredible. And I'll just share a little bit about them. The first co founder, she is the creative director and has a BFA in theatre from Howard University, which is no joke, that is such a prestigious school, and is a professional pole dancer and I have done pole dancing. I think my abs are still sore from that. And twerk instructor. I am horrible at twerking. I do have to say, my girls are excellent. She is adept at growing an online audience building brand loyalty and creating a social media presence translating into sales and amen to that. The next co founder is the Business Director of this business and has an extensive background in project management and you need to be organized absolutely to be an entrepreneur and coordinating. She enjoys organizing and managing large groups of people and has experienced running the behind the scenes operations of various organizations. So my founders today are Nikki St. John and Kiki Mahan . So Nikki and Kiki Welcome to Raw and Real entrepreneurship.

Susan Sly 04:58
Hello! Thanks for having us.

Susan Sly 05:02
So Nikki, driving an Uber, you like, seriously, you met Kiki also in the Uber. Can you tell me and tell the audience How did that all happen? How'd you meet?

Nikki StJohn 05:15
Um, I was having a really bad day. And I actually didn't want to pick her up. Because you can, you can see the rides where they're going with rates aren't she's gonna accept them or not. And, you know, something just told me just go ahead and get her. When she got in the car, we just immediately started talking. And, you know, similar to you, she asked me like, what else do I do? And by the end of the car ride, you know, I had explained to her how I had wrote a TV series. We had shot the pilot episode for the show, and we were funding it ourselves. But we're doing a crowdfunding campaign. And the TV show was also based on dance as a dance comedy. And so when she told me that she's a scrum manager, and she loves managing projects, I was like, We need help with that. She loved the idea. So she was like, let me come on board and help you guys out.

Susan Sly 06:03
Well, okay, so this is whatever anyone wants to call it. We go all over the world, you might call it karma. You might call it divine intervention. This is meant to be and Kiki, I love Agile methodology. Oh, yes, we could have a whole show on that. My first question I want to ask you is what is your favorite project management tool? Because I'm really curious.

Kiki Mahan 06:33
Okay, so the most underrated tool. And everybody always says all those fancy things about like boards and things like that, your calendar, a regular calendar, that is my favorite tool, because if it's not in the calendar, I already forgot about it. Like, do not underestimate the power of a calendar, like or calendar events, because it is very easy to forget a task or to not complete the task on time if it's not in your calendar. So you can have a million Trello, Asana, Monday, you know, all of these other platforms. But if it's not in that calendar that you look at every single day, it's not gonna get done.

Susan Sly 07:11
I love that you said that. And I, I use them for one of my companies, I we use a Miro board, just because it is what I was trained on at MIT. And so I love it. I love moving the post It's around. But that's why I'm sorry, I was just so curious.

Kiki Mahan 07:27
When I was trained In Scrum, we used Miro. So like, it was a little strange for me, because I've never used something like that before. It kind of reminded me like a jam board from like Google. But it was a little strange. But I'm familiar with that as well.

Susan Sly 07:40
I confess that in, here's my confessional in front of the many, many 1000s and 1000s of people who listen to these episodes, that maybe or maybe not one of my Miro boards, which are more themed and that's all I'm gonna say. Anyway, so

Kiki Mahan 07:56
If it was or was not, I would like to see it if it exists.

Susan Sly 07:59
I don't even know what we were planning. Okay, so I digress. So I am also trained in Agile methodology and sorry, Nikki, that is like, yeah, so that's rabbit hole but, okay, so Kiki you get in the vehicle, and Nikki's sharing her vision of what she's doing. And like any startup, it starts with perhaps one concept, and it evolves into something else. So how is that? How did that evolution happen? Because it went from a, you know, a show to something else. And can you talk about what the something else is?

Kiki Mahan 08:41
So like Nikki said, we met in the Uber and she asked me to come on to manage her crowdfunding campaign. So one night, we were just brainstorming ideas on how to raise money for the campaign. And we were just brainstorming back and forth. And do you mind if I said the name of your show Nikki?

Nikki StJohn 08:59
Go ahead.

Kiki Mahan 09:00
So the name of her show is called Twerk works LA. So while we're in this meeting, we're thinking of all these things, oh, we could do this. We could do a carwash, we could do you know, the basic, you know, things that you do when you fundraise. And I said, Guys, this doesn't happen have to happen right now. But we should open a twerk museum. And everybody's like, that's a great idea. You know, like, and we're all thinking in our brains at the time, like, Yeah, we could totally do that at some point, you know, and as the campaign kind of progressed, everyone just kind of got busy with their own lives. Because, you know, with crowdfunding campaigns, you are essentially working for free until the money starts to pour in, we all understood that. But we also didn't want to impose on anyone else's life. And if they had other things going on, we had to respect that. So as people's lives started to progress, and they kind of had to fall off the campaign for personal reasons. It just kind of fizzled out for a second and I remember Nikki calling me, I was actually in Nashville for a funeral. A friend of mine had passed away she called me she's like, Hey, If I can't get it out of my brain, I'm like, what you talking about? She's like, the twerk museum. And I'm like, okay, she's like, I think we should do it. And I'm like, who's we? Who's we? She was like me and you down the middle. I'm like, Okay, let's go on it. And then the Twerk Museum was born.

Susan Sly 10:19
Which is, which is incredible because I could, hundreds and hundreds of founders that I've interviewed, and I said to Nikki, this, the first one like, 100%, that I think the closest was a friend of mine, who left Wall Street, he was an SVP Jess Feldman. So if you're listening, you can check out his show, if you haven't heard it. And he like said, bye Wall Street, and he went and went into the world of art. And he was, he's so much happier. He went from like, high stress, never seen his family to he connects people based on their budget with the art that they love. And, and that was, you know, the business that he co founded actually with his mom, so there you go.

Kiki Mahan 11:03
I love that.

Susan Sly 11:04
Right? Right. And, and so this vision for the museum, I know that depending on when people are listening, we are in a pre launch phase. So you all are raising money, you're getting organized, I want to you know, it's interesting, because a lot of people listening to the show are thinking of starting a business. So I want to get into the weeds of how you all stay organized in this phase, because you're both working. So you're doing this part time. Do you have regular cadence meetings? How do you decide I mean, obviously, Kiki your agile trained, but you are the scrum master for every department of the business. So it's not like you are having like, you know, individuals. So how are you keeping this organized? What is the cadence you meet on? Do you have daily objectives, weekly objectives? How does it work?

Nikki StJohn 11:56
Well, that's kind of evolved over time. At first, it was very interesting, how to arrange everything, especially with me, and I'm driving, because Kiki can still you know, be at home on the computer and still get things done. But for me, like I literally had to not be in my car, to, you know, accomplish anything. So it was really difficult for me at first. So I was like, let's just focus on the fundraising. So we, we raised like, half of the money that we need so far. And then now we're able to pay ourselves something, we're also doing a promotional tour, we have a few events that we're doing, you know, to bring in money. So we have really had to re strategize. I'm really big on Trello, Trello boards, and planning and marking off our tasks on a daily and a weekly basis. We also have like a monthly plan overview. And, yeah, I think that's pretty much where I'm at with the organization. Kiki?

Kiki Mahan 12:52
Right, so both of, we have both figured out that we have ADHD. I was recently diagnosed earlier this year, and I've had a feeling that I was for a while. But when I finally like, confirmed, I'm like, Okay, so I'm not crazy. Um, and in that we kind of had to figure out like, what was each other's weaknesses versus strengths. And we do share a lot of the same things in those departments. So we really try our best to like, you know, get on each other, like, Hey, we're not doing this. So we need to do XY and Z better, Nikki is really good at that with me, because like, sometimes I'll just be in my own world doing stuff. And she's like, but wait, you know, bring it back, we dial each other in a lot. So when it comes to organization, Trello is her jam, calendars are my jam. So if she wants to say something to me, or something needs to be done, or she needs me to look at a thought that she's organizing, she says, Hey, I put it in your Trello board. So we have separate boards for things that we're responsible for. And then if we need to check on each other's paces, then we look at the Trello board. I'm really awful with updating my progress on the Trello board. So she has to jump down my throat a lot like hey, did you update your board, because something will be done and I won't click Done. Because I'm more of those more of a scan the list and it's done versus going and check every single time. Like I have to go back and recheck everything so but Nikki is good at that. So glad to have her.

Nikki StJohn 14:14
It's a little challenging, because we're wearing so many different hats at this phase. Since we are doing a few different events, like we have to be the ones that are doing social media marketing, you know, setting up the SMS, the email sequencing, you know, doing all the online ads and the promotions and setting up the website and the shopping carts, it's just, it's a lot. So we've really had to be very just really organized really, really organized and I'm not a very organized person. And this has forced me to be a lot more organized in order to move forward.

Susan Sly 14:51
I love how respectful you both are of one another. I've interviewed you know so many people and been In the world of, you know, tech and I, you know, co founders and I've heard many stories of, you know, relationships that have gone south and it's like, it's like a marriage right? There has to be respect, there has to be trust. I love my observations like you pause, you know, and Kiki when you said you know about ADHD, I cannot remember the statistic is so high, the percentage of successful founders who have ADHD because you, it's almost like you have to have it because to Nikki's point,

Kiki Mahan 15:33
Unless it's Susan.

Susan Sly 15:34

Kiki Mahan 15:37
That's good to know because every entrepreneur I know has ADHD, every single one. And they

Susan Sly 15:44
cannot I do too, and you can't focus for long periods of time on one thing, and that's and they you look at Elon Musk as an example. So who else has so many companies that generate billions per year. Not like they hit a unicorn valuation, and they sold it, but billions per year, and he has the track record and tracker and allegedly is horrible ADHD and so to a lot of founders, and so when you think about how to channel that and I love that you recognize each other's organizational styles, and there's like the, in the Trello board, it's um, it's all about that dopamine hit like I checked it and it's, you know, whatever or Miro I move the post it or whatever it is, in the calendar, Kiki, I use a paper planner. I'm gonna share it. I have both. Yep. I have both. Although I was out calendered. I will share the story. So I'm moving in my daughter. Sarai Rachel into college. She is a sophomore there sir. She's a freshman at Arizona State. And her roommate, Mia is darling. And Mia is like, Mrs. Arkeveld, that's my husband's name. No one calls me that but it's okay. And she comes up and she shows me her planner. She's like Mrs. Arkeveld, I have our rush schedule in here. I have started class schedule in here. I have the five year planner Mrs. Arkeveld. I'm like, Okay,

Kiki Mahan 17:10
Girl, I can't barely keep up with the one year.

Susan Sly 17:15
And she's 18.

Kiki Mahan 17:22
I need to know where she bought that. I need the five year planner.

Susan Sly 17:25
I will find out. I'm like, how, you're 18 you don't know how your life is gonna change. And then I was, my daughter called me about some career advice. And then in the background, and she's like, I don't know what our rush schedule is this weekend. And I hear Mia's voice going, Mrs. Arkeveld, I have it all written down for this weekend. And she pulls the photo and starts telling me about my daughter's schedule.

Nikki StJohn 17:56
Tell your daughter she needs to keep her close.

Susan Sly 17:59

Nikki StJohn 17:59
Because there is nothing like a friend who likes to organize your life for you.

Susan Sly 18:04

Nikki StJohn 18:05
There's nothing like it. Like I am the mom friend. And all of my friends like, we all go out and everybody was having a good time. I'm usually you know, sober and I'm watching make sure nobody leaves their belongings, you know, all we have to be up by a certain time and waking everybody up. Like there's nothing like having a friend like that. And I've heard that a lot about myself. So she need to hold on to that for it.

Susan Sly 18:25
Next time I come to Atlanta, and we go out. I know you've got me. I will not do that-

Kiki Mahan 18:31
Let me know if you have somewhere to be in the morning, I will make sure you're there. I'll make sure you got enough time get up earlier here. You get to shower, you might be putting makeup on too

Susan Sly 18:41

Nikki StJohn 18:42
Yes, kicking is super organized. We went to a pole con, which is like the biggest pole convention in the world. And we got a lot of our investors from pole. And you know, I was like running around like crazy. Because I'm performing, I'm teaching like, it's a lot going on. And Kiki kept us organized the entire time. So yeah, that's her jam.

Kiki Mahan 19:01
Now mind you, 90% of the people that I met at this place, I did not know these people. But this was her village. So I was willing to jump in and help because everyone was running around like chickens with their head cut off. So I'm just like, what do you need? Like what can I do for you? So I'm in the back, fixing eyelashes, securing wigs and doing makeup and you know, just all type of stuff that I wasn't even responsible for. But I just thought that they needed help and they needed to be organized and they had to be done by certain time. Everybody was on schedule everybody was on task.

Susan Sly 19:30
That's incredible. When I think about what you're building, that whole concept of a CXO that chief experience officer like, what experience are people having when they encounter your business and your brand. And that what can I do for you, leave you feeling better? No, I've got you while you're having that experience. And I see that oftentimes in businesses there isn't a person like that and You know, and I'm that person in one of my companies. And it's, it makes a difference. And you become that person that the investors call or the businesses that you're doing business with call or the person who really cares deeply about the reviews. And that's not just you, it's actually both of you. Because when Nikki was talking about it, she was talking about the experience that people would have. And I want to talk about that. So what is the experience you're intending people to have, as they come through the museum and encounter it?

Nikki StJohn 20:33
Well, the term was emerges dance history and culture. It's an immersive interactive experience, we are going to have live dance performers there. And then they're going to be teaching you the dances and you have dozens of backdrops to choose where you want to create your content. So anybody who's into like, TikToks and like, you know, watching the trending dances, and then you know, replaying them, learning them in their living room are really going to like this. And not only do you get that dance aspect, that fun aspect, but you also learn a lot about history. So the tribalism is actually based on the research of one of my friends, she has a dance studio here in Atlanta called Vertical Joe's. And she also has a twerk technicians training program. So just like, you know, yoga or like ballet, you go through these certification programs to learn how to teach it correctly, and like learn all the lingo that's associated with it. So Joe codified the terminology for twerk. You know, a lot of people kind of looked down on it, and didn't necessarily think it was like a professional form of dance. But she went in and you know, as a trained dancer, she was able to codify it. And also, she did a lot of research as far as the history is concerned. And a lot of the modern target we do now traces back to dances that were done in Africa. They were celebratory dances, they were used to get close to God, they were even used to choose parents between men and women. So a lot of people don't know this history. So one of the things that's really meaningful to me about this museum is that you're going to learn that there's a whole history behind these dances, and that when Africans were taken as slaves throughout the world, that dance is morphed into like Samba in Brazil, and you have put ale in Puerto Rico. And they all have their own unique meanings from the regions that they came from. So I really think that we're going to be able to give people back there culture, back their history, and really show how Africans have made an impact around the world.

Susan Sly 22:33
What excites me about it, and, and Nikki and I spoke about this briefly, was when, I used to go to Malawi a lot. And Maggie, my oldest daughter, she was in a shelter, I rescued her when she was 14 years old. And both her parents had died of AIDS. And she had been, this is a PG show, but she had been raped by her uncle and became pregnant, and they found her walking the streets of Lilongwe, naked. And she went into a women's shelter, she lost the baby. But when I met her, she was sleeping on a concrete slab. And every morning, there were just so many cockroaches and things. And my friend was a social worker there. He said, Susan, you have to meet this girl. So we go out and I take her for chicken and chips, which is a big thing. And she's so proud. And I'm like, What do you want to do with your life? And she's walking three miles to and from school past the prison where her uncle is, getting straight A's. She doesn't speak at this time word of English. She speaks Chichewa. And she looks me in the eye. And she goes, I'm going to be an accountant. I was like, Yes, you are, okay. To make a long story short, today, she's, she's a mom, and I named my grandchildren Honor and Christian, and she did graduate with an accounting degree. But many times I've been there, I will go into these very remote villages. And Nikki, just as you said, you know, there are videos I have where I go in, and in Malawi, with women, you have to wrap something around your waist because you Yeah, go in with like, just pants on. But you've got to put like something around your waist. And the only twerking I have ever done that is on video is with this group of Malawi women and children in this village is like in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and the children are singing and laughing and we're dancing and just celebrating. And so when you told me about this project, one of the big reasons that was on my heart to share your story all over the world, is because it's so important to me that we understand that especially in America, there's no new culture. Like there isn't like, you know, so when you said the torque Museum, I didn't think Miley Cyrus, I was like, Africa. This makes so much sense to me.

Kiki Mahan 24:56
Thank you for that. Susan. Thank you. For those of you out there that think Miley Cyrus invented twerk, we're here to tell you that that is not true. So sorry to crush your dreams in advance, however.

Nikki StJohn 25:10
I'm sorry, you also have a background in dance. So it's like you are a little bit more knowledgeable of the history of different types of dances. But like Kiki said, there are so many, especially younger people who just, you know, look at TV, and they see everything that's going on in like these music videos. And they're thinking that their favorite celebrity like, you know, came up with it. And it's like, this goes back centuries, and it has a whole history behind it. And we think that people need to know about that. And then also, I feel like, if people knew the history behind it, it wouldn't be so frowned upon. And, you know, not that having a history makes it better or not, but just that it is something to be treated with respect, like any other form of dance.

Susan Sly 25:56
And the burning question I have is, will one of the installations allow you to talk with Shemar Moore because that's, you know what I need to know.

Kiki Mahan 26:03
You know what, Shemar Moore, if you're listening, you need to come see us at the twerk museum. We will send you a special invitation.

Susan Sly 26:11

Kiki Mahan 26:11
We need you and Susan, to work in one of our exhibits. Thank you. Our team will be reaching out Shemar, our team will be reaching out to you.

Susan Sly 26:20
Definitely. My daughter has a Shemar Moore pillow. So when she was 13 she had on her phone a Shemar Moore screensaver. This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, y'all. I know some of you who are listening to like, What are you talking about? Like just tune out for a minute. But if you're interested in the Shemar story, then you can stay listening. So you know, of course I grew up, I'm 50, I grew up watching Shemar on Young and the Restless, right? But my daughter has him as her screensaver. I'm like, you know how old he is? And she's like, I don't care, mommy. So anyway, I- Yes. I enabled her, I totally did. I bought her a Shemar Moore pillowcase, and her friend the same pillowcase. And so she had, has the Shemar Moore pillowcase and is, I know some of you all are going to message me and be like you're not Christian. Anyway, so Shemar has no shirt on. And anyway, so that is her and she, when she went to university, Shemar went with her.

Kiki Mahan 27:24
I know that's right. Well first of all, half of the teenage heartthrobs are shirtless in the magazine anyway, so what's the difference between Mr. Heartthrob and Shemar Moore be shirtless on my pillow? What's the difference?

Susan Sly 27:34
If it came to Harry Styles, shirtless or Shamar? There's no like-

Kiki Mahan 27:38
it's Shamar. Immediately. It's immediately. I think we all can agree. Shemar would win the shirt off.

Susan Sly 27:43
I kind of feel like this is the view of Raw and Real

Kiki Mahan 27:49
You know what, Susan, if you're interested in starting the Raw and Real View Show, let us know

Susan Sly 27:54
All right. Okay, so we're digressing. But anyway, we will have to have, we'll have a whole other discussion about that. The Shemar, I'll have to, you know, if you want me to send you the same pillowcase, I'm more than happy to do that. I want to, I want to ask you a final question. We're talking, and why I get into a you know, this topic is, you know what, starting this business, fundraising, we know the statistics, right? For women led pitches to VCs, it's less than two and a half percent of women led pitches get funded. The gal who started Canva, she pitched 200 VCs, and they rejected her. And it's like, you know, in the Bible, it says the stone the builders rejected became the cornerstone. And then she got a multi billion dollar valuation, like show, you know, showed them. And so, you know, there's the fundraising aspect, as you said, you're wearing all these multiple hats, you're the accountant, you're marketing, you're keeping track of investors, there's no end of things, plus the creative aspect. So Kiki, I'm gonna start with you What is something you wish someone had told you about the entrepreneurship journey that you have now learned?

Kiki Mahan 29:09
Oh, honey, um, first of all, it's not as simple as ,12,3. You get on social media and people say, Hey, you want to start a business, this is what you need to do. And then they say, get your EIN, get your LLC, get a business address, but they don't tell you how much those things cost. They say like, Oh, it doesn't start costing them to start a business. But for someone who is living, you know, in the regular working middle class, that's not feasible to them, because the amount of fees that me and Nikki have found, you know, come with starting a business of this size, It's astronomical, like it's really, it's really expensive. So what kind of really burns me up at these, you know, influencers and celebrities sell these ebooks that say, this is how you start a business, but they don't tell the whole story. So you know, in our success that is coming, Our goal is to tell it all, we're not here to gatekeepe, we want we want you guys to win too, because although at some point you may be our competition, that's not now. So I wish someone would have told me exactly what those steps were so that I didn't have any surprises along the way.

Susan Sly 30:19
Yeah, and it's for budgeting purposes, and then cash flow purposes. The founder of Proov test, which is an FDA approved for fertility advice, she was on the show a couple of episodes back, and got the FDA approval. And in my mind, I was like, How much money did you spend on the attorney like so expensive, and she said, Actually, I Googled it. And I did the application myself. And another friend of mine, a founder, Lori Harder, and she's got a new product coming out, and I'm an investor in her company. She, she's like, I Googled it. And she said, it took a lot of time, but I saved a lot of money. Because Kiki to your point, there's a lot of people out there who will, you know, offer to do things, and so on and so forth. And it comes with a price. And there are certain things you can do yourself. And one of the things I've never been, I just, I just started a new S Corp and I've never been afraid to ask, I've more attorneys than I have handbags. And I'll say to one of my attorneys, how much will you charge me to do this? Right. And if I know he's going to do a better job, and it's going to take him less time it's going to take me, because time is valuable, then I'll do it. But I'm not afraid to get the accountant to give a quote, the attorney to give a quote, to use Google, we have to be resourceful. All right. Nikki, what about you? What is something you have learned that was not expected on this journey so far?

Nikki StJohn 31:47
Wow, good question. How much everything was going to cost? When we, when we initially put this together, You know, we're thinking a little bit about, what did we say, about $200,000. And then it was just like, and I had actually bought a ebook, like, Kiki was just talking about, it was like how to, like, do an interactive museum. And I was like, Oh, we're gonna get started for like, 30,000 to like, 100,000. So I was like, Yeah, well, my vision is a little bit bigger. So I think you could do this for 20,000? No, when you start making phone calls, and like, the costs start adding up, it's just like, how did we get here? So you know, I really have respect for people like yourself who have multimillion dollar businesses, because it takes so much to get to that level that you know, you can operate, you know, just even your operating expenses. When you look at the monthly breakdown of our operating expenses. It's like, this is insane. I mean, I still know that we can do it. But it's like, now you have to go back and you have to readjust your strategies like, Okay, we were thinking that this was going to happen initially. Now we have to plan for this. So now, how do we get to this? Oh, yeah. I just think the money is a step by step playbook for how much everything's going to cost would be amazing.

Kiki Mahan 33:08
That part, and I do want to double back to a point that you made Susan about how you have no shame in your game when it comes to getting quotes from everyone. So this is actually a conversation Nikki and I had earlier this week, it was more of like an epiphany for us, when we were trying to figure out should we hire someone to do you know certain things for us. And we basically, were just saying that, maybe we should attempt to do the baseline work, you know, and then look at it, and then get some advice from a professional. And based on what they say, if we can do it on our own, we can finish the task, but if not, we feel like it'd be better for us to spend the money and it'll benefit us in the long run, let's pass the task off. Because part of the, you know, the Battle of being, you know, an entrepreneur or owner of a company is knowing when you're not good at it. You have to learn how to delegate, and Nikki and I struggle with delegation a lot because we feel like, we can do that. And it's like, yeah, we can, but like, there are other things we could be doing. If we just delegate this one task, you know what I mean? But that goes back to the budgeting thing. So you know, we're thinking, we thought of all of the things and we have all these grand scope. We have this grand scope of skills that we both possess, but there's just not enough hours in the day, there's not enough manpower, and we're finding that we got to find solutions, and we need to quick. So that's another thing that people should disclose about running a business. You can't run it by yourself. I know people that do it. I have done it before. And every single business that I've run on my own, I've dissolved, because the manpower, it's just not feasible to do to sustain long term, at some point you have to hire people. And you know, now Nikki and I are in that phase, we're like, okay, let's wrap up our buddy so that we can start getting some manpower in the door so we don't burn ourselves out before we even reached the finish line.

Susan Sly 34:59
Yeah, and the piece of advice I'll give you is in the beginning, the way you will do things, the bar is going to be set so high because of who you both are. And you know, you are both perfectionist. And I say that with love. If I could go back in time, I would have documented some of the things I did. Because when you hire those people, whether it's an overseas VA or whomever you have SOPs that you can give them, standard operating procedures, for someone who doesn't know what that means, that you can give them. And that taking that time, an hour a week and sitting down and going, Hey, I did this, this and this. And this is something I would like to have someone, I'd like to hire someone to do this thing at some point. And that SOP becomes the job description. And the other thing is, I'm a big believer in using overseas talent. I have a whole team of overseas like a full time videographer who does like, I'll take an iPhone video and he edits it and does all that stuff. He captions it, a full time assistant who's overseas. And these amazing folks have become like my family, and they've been with me for years. And we can talk offline, I can tell you where I find people and they do the DISC assessment. And I hire based on their personality trait just because I'm a handful. And so I you know, I need people who like, can work with that kind of ADD energy, right? We have a full time graphic person and she is overseas. And we promoted her from an EA to a supervisor. So she oversees everyone. And in our interview process, she interviews first in their language, then we do English interviews, and we have a three step process and everyone we've interviewed, we've only had to let one person go for underperforming but everyone's been with me for years. So that you know, it doesn't have to cost as much as you think it does. But it's like in that beginning, you're wearing all those hats. And yeah, for sure. So you guys are funding, you have raised 100,000, you want to raise at least another 100,000. If someone is listening, if Shemar is listening, I just thought of this two ladies. He has a server, he was a server at a friend's party, and that we were having this conversation like a few years ago, and I have to remember which friend it is. And so anyway, they actually know him. So Shemar if you hear this, and you're interested in funding or anyone else's, how would anyone reach you to to invest?

Kiki Mahan 37:41
Okay, so we're not just talking to Shemar, we talking to everybody, bue Shemar especially you, you can email us at

Susan Sly 37:54 and this is a crowdsource funding. So unlike a traditional funding where someone ISQ investor, investor qualified in the United States, this is pure crowdfunding, right? So is there a minimum people invest? Or is there? What is that? How are you doing it?

Nikki StJohn 38:14
So we're very flexible with our investment options. Our minimum investment is 5000. And we take investments in $5,000 increments, you can also split up your investment with a friend and give you separate contracts. You can use shot pay to pay over time. And we also have a financial director who owns an accounting firm in Los Angeles and misty and Associates. And she can refer you to her and then she can help you obtain a credit card to fund. So we have we, have a few different options for you.

Kiki Mahan 38:45
We make it as easy as possible for everyone to get in. And that's definitely how we pitch to our friends and family because people believe in idea and sometimes just don't have the capital, or you don't want to tie up your capital. So we wanted to make sure that we were as flexible as possible with our options so that anybody who wants to be a part could be, so we're not, you know, snooty people that are trying to open a museum like, we want everybody to have a piece of a stamp in history.

Susan Sly 39:11
It's amazing. I, and only two women who are highly organized would have such a complete answer. And we're like, and we got this covered. And we got this covered. We got this covered. Never ever heard it like that before. I mean, I love it. I wish you both the most amazing success. I know you're going to come back at the official launch. Right now we're in pre launch. So when is the estimated launch, launch happening?

Kiki Mahan 39:39
At the end of January.

Susan Sly 39:42
At the end of January, all right. Okay, so we will come back during launch so we can create a frenzy. And in the meantime, I just want to say like, from the bottom my heart, I'm so excited for what you're doing and like, this is just, I see so clearly how many lives are going to be touched and I just see whether it's little kids coming or people of all ages coming and just feeling that sense of history and pride and learning and growing. It's like, girls, I want to hug you.

Kiki Mahan 40:21
You can when you come to the exhibit, you can totally come hug us.

Kiki Mahan 40:28
Right? Absolutely.

Susan Sly 40:29
Absolutely. I will be there. All right, well, Kiki Nikki, thank you so much for being here on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. And if you're listening, wherever you are in the world while you, I hope you're listening, I don't even know, I'm beside myself now. You all, if you've been regular listeners, you know how I get when I'm excited. Anyway, we'd love a five star review and share the episode, tag us on social, the links to Kiki and Nikki's social will be in the show notes. And if this episode has helped you, please message us if you're inspired, I would love to read your comments on apps. So with that, God bless. Go rock your day. And I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly 41:10
Hey, this is Susan and thanks so much for listening to this episode on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. If this episode or any episode has been helpful to you, you've gotten at least one solid tip from myself or my guests, I would love it if you would leave a five star review where ever you listen to podcasts. After you leave your review go ahead and email Let us know where you left a review. And if I read your review on the air, you could get a $50 amazon gift card and he would so appreciate it because reviews do help boost the show and get this message all over the world. If you're interested in any of the resources we discussed on the show, go to That's where all the show notes live. And with that, go out there rock your day, God bless and I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly 42:04
Are you currently an employee looking to start your own business? Maybe you've been thinking about it for a while and you're just not sure where to start? Well my course Employee to Entrepreneur combines my decades of experience as an entrepreneur with proven methods, techniques and skills to help you take that leap and start your own business. This course is self paced, Learn on Demand and comes with an incredible workbook. And that will allow you to go through this content piece by piece by piece, absorb it, take action and then go on to the next module. So check out my course on Employee to Entrepreneur.

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Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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