When Pivoting Is Hard with Aimee Kandrac

Brian chats with Aimee Kandrac, the co-founder and CEO of WhatFriendsDo and the first female CEO in the state of Indiana to close a $500,000 funding round. The WhatFriendsDo platform offers a simple way to create organized, actionable support for families experiencing a crisis, and Aimee’s work is instrumental for bringing communities together during times of hardship.

On the episode, Aimee shares how a friend’s terminal cancer diagnosis at age 25 was the catalyst to create WhatFriendsDo. She also opens up about her struggle to raise venture funding as a female entrepreneur in the Midwest and how the business has pivoted to reach the right clients and stay profitable.

Episode Highlights

Most entrepreneurs run mission-driven businesses.

Aimee says that most entrepreneurs qualify as owners of mission-driven businesses because entrepreneurs wouldn’t have the passion and energy to build a business if they didn’t feel like they were fulfilling a personal mission. For Aimee, that mission is to connect and help people, which is a central tenet of WhatFriendsDo.

“I feel really lucky because the mission that I’m fulfilling fits really nicely with the passion that I have for helping other people and connecting other people,” Aimee said.

Pivoting can be tough but necessary.

When WhatFriendsDo started, it was a B2C business in which the customers were the same as the end-users: families in the midst of a life-changing event. However, about five years ago, the company pivoted to stay profitable, shifting to a B2B model in which the company licenses its program to organizations with the same end-users. The change was hard for Aimee.

“Businesses have different needs, want different ROI expectations than my end users, and I still struggle with it sometimes because I’m just so passionable about the end user,” she said.

The pivot came with the added challenge of identifying industries that not only could benefit from the WhatFriendsDo platform but also understood the technology behind it. While WhatFriendsDo is still refining its niche, the company is able to do value-based sales pricing better than before the change.

“We started out in healthcare and sold to hospital systems, so hospital systems have the opportunity to white label an app for their patients,” Aimee said. “This is a way for a hospital or healthcare provider to extend their reach beyond the doctor’s office, beyond the hospital walls.”

Get out there and try it.

Aimee knows first-hand the glass ceiling she faced when raising funds to build WhatFriendsDo. In 2016, she became the first female CEO in her home state of Indiana to close a half-million-dollar venture funding round. In at least one case, she was the first woman to pitch a venture capital group.

We still have a long way to go, and Aimee cited statistics that female founders and people of color are still getting less than 7% of venture funding. Which is all the more reason for Mission Driven Business podcast listeners to take charge and start their own businesses.

“Get out there and try it,” Aimee said. “If it fails, then fix it or now you know not to do it. But it’s better to go do it than to regret having not tried.”

Resources + Links

About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast

Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.

On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.