I’m Tiffani Ashley Bell and I founded Pencil You In as a way to allow hairstylists and makeup artists to accept appointments online and by extension, grow their clientele.
I’ve been programming since I was a kid, but at some point, I realized it was more important to use my technical ability to solve real problems. This all came to a head back in 2008 during my senior year as a computer science major at Howard University.
As graduation loomed closer, I occasionally eschewed track pants and a headscarf thanks to job interviews, presentations, etc. My hairstylist and I played these lovely games of phone tag as I forgot to call him or I’d call him and his appointment book wasn’t at hand. When we finally were in sync, I sometimes ended up with appointments at awkward times (7am, once), if one at all. One could say that I needed to just make my appointments at the end of visits, but this asked too much of the schedule of someone weeks away from graduation. Pencil You In was then conceived as my solution to my hair appointment scheduling woes.
Pencil You In was one project out of several I was working on at one time, but it became evident that it should get 100% of my attention. With that realization, however, came a flood of questions: should I raise money? How does the customer in Tampa’s feedback fit into the vision? Whose advice should I take with a grain of salt and for whose should I go back for seconds?
Eager for answers, I quit my job at the beginning of June to come to the Bay area two weeks later thanks to the NewME Accelerator. After being here for just a month, many of my questions have gotten awesome answers. For others, the answers are revealing themselves as the countdown to Demo Day winds down. I couldn’t have expected more out of being here.
The NewME Accelerator is shifting my entire thought process on running a company (and by extension, living). I’ve met one brilliant person after another (the likes of Navarrow Wright, Jay Jamison, etc.), talked to investors I may have never had the chance to speak to otherwise (Mitch Kapor, for example), and built out my company in an environment where it’s clear everybody appreciates ambition and wants to see success.