The inspiration to start TouchPoint Solution came to Vicki Mayo (pictured left) in 2015 after many sleepless nights spent helping her young daughter deal with night terrors. Mayo shared her frustrations with her friend, Dr. Amy Serin, who suggested Mayo try a technology she had been testing in her clinics. “It was like magic,” says Mayo, who urged Serin to make the technology widely available.

Together they created TouchPoints, wearable devices that administer microvibrations that alter the body’s stress response. Their Scottsdale, Ariz.–based company has won dozens of innovation awards, and the treatment has been recognized as effective for a wide range of users, from children prone to tantrums to stressed-out adults.

We self-financed the initial development of TouchPoints in part because we were able to negotiate with vendors about purchase minimums. I talked to the manufacturer and said, “I can only pay you for 100 units, but I’m going to sell them and when I do, I’ll use that money to buy more.” I held the first prototype in my hands in May 2016. We launched on Kickstarter in December 2016 and did more than $250,000 in sales in a month.

TouchPoint Solution was my sixth startupMy philosophy has always been to work hard, grow the business slowly and reinvest the profits. I have never had outside investors, but I decided that TouchPoint was different. I wanted to get it into as many hands as possible, and I thought that would require capital. That realization is what led me to apply for Project Entrepreneur.

My husband, our four kids and I moved to New York for the summer for Project Entrepreneur. We were basically able to get under the hood of operations at more established companies during the accelerator program. Things that I picked up from a marketing perspective were priceless, including understanding how to pitch to the media and how to do better email marketing. By the time I left, I’d put together strategies that allowed us to take the company to the next level.

But when it came to investors, we struck out. TouchPoint Solution had already done about $1.5 million in sales, so it wasn’t unproven. Still, we’re in a unique niche that sits at the intersection of manufacturing, technology and health science. It’s cutting-edge, but it’s a strange area—and it’s a strange area for a woman. In 2019, we decided to stop seeking investors.

I wish someone had said to me, “Vicki, do what you know is right for you, for your company and for your team, and every other piece is going to fall into place.” It is hard to stick to your guns and to trust yourself. But if you don’t trust yourself, then who else is going to?

We went back to our original model of having a core staff but using outside contractors as needed. This has proven to be the right path. In addition to our consumer sales, our devices are now in 20 rehabilitation facilities, more than 40 school districts and hospitals and other clinical settings. Now, instead of our going out and begging investors for meetings, I have people calling me saying they’d like to invest.

I think the landscape has improved dramatically for female founders. Yes, I ran into roadblocks with TouchPoints, but I don’t think it was solely because I was a woman. I actually think the playing field has leveled out a lot over the last few years and that the investor community has embraced female founders. Do we have a long way to go? I’d say 100 percent. But have we made a lot of progress? Again, 100 percent.

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