Life is a journey, but ‘how’ we travel is what matters the most!
Even if life is not a bed of roses, it gives us countless emotions to cherish, smile, and live a better life today and aim for a better tomorrow. While human existence has always been challenging, for some individuals and professionals, the pages of life has not been so colorful that they have dreamt of! However, its the sheer grit and determination of these individuals that they have always stood tall against the odds of life and have managed to craft their way. The ‘never-say-die’ attitude is what differentiates these people from the rest who generally bow down against the rough tides of life. Instead of putting the onus on destiny, circumstances, and complexities, these handful people get back to the drawing board whenever they face a dead end.
This edition of Business Achievers Making A Difference, 2019 showcases such an inspirational story of Sheri Atwood – an entrepreneur by heart and a Founder and CEO of SupportPay. This excerpt is an honest attempt to create a positive aura stating that patience and hard work is a lethal combination that never goes in vain. Also, this story highlights a thought of the society that irrespective of modernity and social equality, there still exists a difference of opinion when it comes to women.
Being the youngest of three children and raised by a single mom, Sheri had set her goals quite early in her life – to be economically settled and the only way to achieve this was getting a college education. Experiencing the hardships faced by her mother, she gave a rigorous push to her dreams and went to undergrad at UC San Diego intending to be a doctor. However, midway through her studies, her professional journey started as she landed a job with Sony Electronics as a Market Analyst. This is where she realized how exciting a career in business could be! A job that is a perfect blend of analytics and creativity and with every day being different and exciting. Her inclination for education drove her to complete her MBA in an Executive Program.
Executive to an Entrepreneur – the Journey
Being the youngest Vice President at Symantec, she had a lucrative career in Silicon Valley. As a divorced single mom, she soon realized that while juggling a career and raising a child, she received a bill for everything in life but there was no bill for child support. Sheri was shocked to find out that there was nothing available on the current market. To make the situation worse, at the same time, her daughter had to undergo an emergency brain surgery that forced her to rethink about managing her time effectively. This was the deciding time when Sheri hung up her boots as an executive and founded SupportPay – giving parents who live apart a solution to manage their child support and share expenses.
SupportPay – The Path-breaking Platform
Going by data, in the US itself, there are 55 million parents that live apart. 39 million exchange over $200B/yr in child expenses & child support/alimony. Globally there are over 298M parents who exchange $900B/yr, but still, there was no defined support system that ensured the process to be swift and smooth.
SupportPay is headquartered in Sacramento, California, and has a headcount of 10 employees. It is the 1st automated child support payment platform that enables parents to share child expenses & exchange child support or alimony directly with each other. SupportPay delivers a revolutionary new approach to the way families share child expenses and manage child support! Parents can now spend less time managing child support & more time raising happy, healthy children. Sheri is passionate about creating a platform to assist the millions of parents and children struggling to manage their child support and share expenses.
SupportPay is addressing a huge pain point as over 300 million parents worldwide struggle to manage child support and sharing expenses. Today, SupportPay stands a key milestone for Sheri as it achieves her objective of assisting millions of parents, children and to demonstrate her daughter that anything is possible if one has the intent to work hard for it.
Life Takes a ‘U’-Turn
While it was smooth sailing for Sheri as the platform was catering to 40K users and had raised $3M in seed funding, destiny had to play its part in the middle! In 2016, she was terminated as the CEO of her own company. It was hard to digest but raising capital to grow her own company also meant that she gave the control of the board to investors that led to this fiasco. Post her departure, right from employees to the sales figure started dipping and the company was standing on a verge of collapse.
After multiple futile attempts to save the business, in 2018, Sheri formed a new holding company and acquired all the assets back. Since then, she is focused on fixing the product, getting connected to previous users and scaling up revenues. In her endeavor to recreate her market space, she has evolved as a founder who had the firmness to rise even from the ashes.
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Taking the Journey Forward
SupportPay is focused on helping families manage finances. Soon, it aims to expand to use the same technology to help siblings and other family members who are providing financial support for their aging parents. “Together, SupportPay will be the defacto standard for families managing finances across households” – says Sheri on a concluding note.