Sevetri Wilson is the founder and CEO of New Orleans-based technology startup, Resilia, and she has raised over $10M for the company. Sevetri founded Resilia in 2016 to revolutionize how nonprofits are created and maintained, and how enterprises (cities, private foundations, and corporations) scale impact. Sevetri was named to Inc. Magazine’s 100 Female Founders building world-changing companies, and was one of PitchBook’s 27 leading black founders and investors. She is also a 2010 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Public Service, the Jefferson Award, and her work was featured in the U.S. Senate report to the White House on Volunteerism in the U.S. Her book, Solid Ground: How I Built a 7 Figure Company at 22 With Zero Capital spent 6 weeks at #1 on Amazon in the startup category.
Q: What inspired you to start Resilia and what were the main challenges you faced?
After working as a consultant in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector for almost 10 years, it became clear that there had to be a better way to streamline work, help people communicate and collaborate better all while solving some of the most critical problems facing humanity. By eliminating silos and reducing barriers, Resilia is helping organizations increase capacity and enterprises that deploy billions scale their impact.
Q: Did you start the venture alone?
Yes, I’m a solo founder.
Q: In your opinion, what are some key opportunities in the nonprofit space going forward?
There are so many opportunities to strengthen the nonprofit sector through the use of technology. A glaring one that we discuss often is the ability to ensure accessibility for all. For example, so many people have dreams of starting their own organization and giving back to their communities, but they’re held back because of the costs and difficulties of creating a nonprofit form nothing: Resilia removes barriers for those founders and makes it easy for anyone to start their nonprofit. Other opportunities in the nonprofit space include increasing data collection and transparency, taking all the work that’s being done by organizations, and looking at ways to produce better, more data-driven results at scale.
Q: What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
We are a Saas based technology company with three core products. The platform’s Nonprofit Formation product (available in all 50 U.S. states) offers a “turbo tax” approach to the process of incorporating and applying for tax exemption. For existing nonprofits, Nonprofit Pro and Plus help organizations stay compliant while increasing capacity through online training, webinars, and other resources geared to productize consultancy services - this drastically reduces costs for nonprofits. Lastly, Resilia’s Enterprise solution enables grantors to streamline data collection; track budgets; manage grantees, reporting, and evaluation; and provide much-needed capacity support to the projects and organizations that they fund.
Q: Do you think luck played a role in the success of your company?
Though I believe there is always room for luck, I believe that the success of our company has been mostly preparation and opportunity colliding at the right time due to a tremendous amount of hard work and discipline.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
We are seeking to help organizations and individuals measure impact over time while creating easy, simple-to-use technology that seeks to democratize our industry. Through a theory of collective impact, we want to provide sustainable solutions that really drive changes and improve the quality of life for the most underserved, and I’d go even further to say those who via capitalism, systemic racism, and other societal problems we have done a disservice to.
Q: If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
That’s the thing about starting over - if you change one thing then it’s highly likely many things would also change. But as a startup founder, we are often starting over. Whether that is rebuilding a product or changing languages. We are constantly reiterating, rebuilding, and willing to start anew.
Q: Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
My late mother. I don’t think I would be where I am without having her in my life. And though in total that was only 20 years, I do believe that she equipped me with the foundation and knowledge I needed to believe in myself, to never let any obstacle stand in my way, and to keep going despite any odds telling me otherwise.
Q: What are your favorite books?
For business, I’d say Rework, Growth IQ, How to Succeed in Business by Earl Graves, and personally, a really great book I read years ago that still resonates with me is Oprah’s What I Know For Sure. I actually think that everyone's female founder should read this very personal book about the challenges of becoming successful in one's respective field.
Q: What’s your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
My advice for female founders: It never really gets easier, you just continuously get better, and the things that once came hard to you start to do with ease. Don’t be too hard on yourself, the world will be hard enough, and most importantly: reflect often and take it all in, because you are going to be on the ride of your life.