Startup Spotlight: Dreamfuel

Dec 31, 2017

Startup Spotlight: Dreamfuel

Dec 31, 2017

Meet Emily White – CEO of Dreamfuel, a company that builds tools for athletes and teams to reach their goals!

Emily White, Dreamfuel CEO

GH: What is Dreamfuel?

Dreamfuel builds tools for athletes and teams.

GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did Dreamfuel get started?

Dreamfuel was born out of necessity. I manage now Olympic legend Anthony Ervin. However, following the 2012 Olympics, Anthony had no way to pay for competing on the World Cup circuit. As I’ve managed artists behind some of the largest crowdfunding campaigns in history, we took the project to Kickstarter. Kickstarter rejected us as they don’t work in sports. Thus, we quickly did Anthony’s campaign on our own, raised more than the goal, he was able to compete with the freedom of mind of not having to win prize money to pay off his credit card debt (his initial plan to fund the trip to represent Team USA), and he swam really well – 16 medals, 9 Gold, and an American record. Thus, we launched Dreamfuel’s first tool to support athletes and teams with sustainable funding by knowing who their donors are and building a sports’ vertical that they are comforted by, and frankly not trolled on.

GH: How did you build/ are you thinking about building your team?

I’ve run a previously successful company, so it comes from experience I suppose. I’m considered a world class marketer and developed our tactics based on that. Obviously we’d be nothing however, without our killer CTO Nicole Pank.

GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?

Be kind, be open, be respectful. We have a company policy that all messages must be responded to within 24 business hours, which streamlines communication. Ultimately we’re a company of women who love supporting each other as well as our athletes and mission.

Nicole Pank, Dreamfuel CTO

GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?

Being a woman in tech is a joke. I’ve never, ever experienced more sexism in my life or previous business and fields before. Just as women and people of color have had to do throughout history, we find workarounds. I’m excited to build our next tool on our own terms, instead of trying to fit into a stereotypical box of the tech world. In a century people will laugh that there is one mold and one model that is considered the way to go for a business. That is insane. I’ve always customized plans to what we’re doing, not what others who don’t know our business or vertical say we should be doing.

GH: What did you learn from your first customers?

That they both need our first product and love that we focus on sports. They’re lost on generic platforms otherwise.

Jessica Nori, Dreamfuel COO

Erica Nori, Dreamfuel Athlete Marketing

GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?

Boston changed my life in every way. I’m originally from a small town in the midwest and went to Northeastern University on a swimming scholarship. To be honest, I looked at NYU, but just wasn’t ready for New York yet. Boston was the perfect stepping stone to develop both my life and career successfully. It’s such an awesome place to go to school, as at times it feels like everyone is a student and growing and learning collectively.

GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?

Like any other place, it’s scene and a clique. I’m stunned when folks in tech in Boston have never heard of major investors from New York and larger markets. It’s important to expand and get outside of one’s own location and comfort zone.

GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?

Best: Ironically, “Slow down.” That’s what my mom used to say when I was a kid. As an adult I’m big on meditation, getting enough sleep, and process in general – it fuels my entrepreneurship.  Worst: That I’ll be great at fundraising. Everyone who said that should have taken my gender into consideration. If I add a guy to pitches, we’re 3x likelier to get funding out of that meeting.

GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?

As I’m writing this in 2017, last year would be 2016. So I’ll go with Anthony Ervin becoming Olympic champion 16 years after he last won gold. What a moment. I couldn’t be happier for him in every way.

GH: What does the future hold for Dreamfuel?

We’re about to start incubating our second tool and are SO excited!! Stay tuned 🙂

Anthony Irvin, Olympic Champ

GH: What does the future hold for Dreamfuel?

We’re about to start incubating our second tool and are SO excited!! Stay tuned 🙂

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