When Tiffanie Stanard expanded her career from TV & radio consulting to become a full-time entrepreneur in the tech industry, one might have presumed that her life in the limelight was over. But the CEO & Founder of relationship intelligence platform, Stimulus, was just getting started.
Now Tiffanie is an established technology influencer, frequently appearing on speaking panels to discuss women and diversity in tech, and keeping her many followers updated on the ups and downs of her journey, each step of the way.
The industry leader joined the Trailblazing Entrepreneurs podcast to discuss the importance of building a personal brand to create a platform for yourself, as well as elevate your corporate brand.
Q: Can you tell us how the idea for Stimulus came about?
A: I was a corporate employee in payroll and vendor management and I did a lot of work connecting vendors to buyers, and helping small businesses and medium-sized businesses connect with corporations. Over the years, I discovered that the main problem these companies faced was knowing what businesses or vendors were available.
So, when I first started Stimulus, we launched as a kind of customized Google search, helping people search by location, or by size of company, diversity, and so on. But then a new issue arose; people wanted to know how they could build a relationship with a particular buyer to even get through the door. And it’s worth noting that less than 1% of corporate contracts go to women and even less to diverse companies.
So, we pivoted and Stimulus became a relationship intelligence platform using data analytics to help companies make better purchasing decisions. Most platforms we found were so transactional and just focused on spend management. When really it all came down to networking and the relationship building process, we identified that companies are using spreadsheets, email, and other manual processes to track relationships.
Q: Has this concept of community building and networking helped you in your entrepreneurial journey?
A: Definitely. I learnt the importance of relationships young. I used to help my Grandma sell Avon and Mary Kay, and I saw the way she built relationships with each of the other sellers and the company itself. By building these connections with the different stakeholders she became a top seller. Things like that stayed with me.
When I switched from being a corporate employee to an entrepreneur, I maintained the relationships I had within that corporation, even after volunteering to get laid off. This led to them becoming our first corporate customer. We do the same type of work I once did as an employee, but now I can do it as a vendor.
So, I’ve learnt the importance of keeping up with relationships, having conversations and checking in on people. Before, everything was transactional; you just wanted customers to buy your product. Now they’re brand ambassadors for you. They’re doing speaking engagements on behalf of your company.
Q: I know your motto is “personal branding is just as important as company branding.” Tell me more about this.
A: Yes, it took me a long time to learn that. Over the years we’ve seen the evolution of influencers, especially in tech companies and startups. Now you don’t have to be on TV or in the music industry to be a celebrity. It’s figuring out what your personal brand is inside and outside of your company, and understanding that you want to build a personal brand to not only grow your business, but to grow whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish for yourself.
Maybe in the long run you want to be an investor, or maybe you want to teach entrepreneurship. It’s understanding that and planning for it — as an individual entrepreneur — and doing things like speaking opportunities, which can turn into multiple streams of income.
I speak about being a woman in tech and a person of color in tech, as well as on relationship intelligence, SaaS, cloud and more. There are different areas I focus on and that I do outside of Stimulus to add to my brand and that also adds to my happiness as a person.
I think it’s important to showcase your passions, and your authentic self. I regularly post on my website and social media to share updates of my journey — the good, the bad, and the ugly! — in order to connect with others and help them understand my personal brand.
Hear more about Tiffanie’s journey in this episode of the Trailblazing Entrepreneurs podcast.