Meet Megan Sumrell, Co-Founder and COO of myBeeHyve, a software startup delivering an innovative sales enablement cloud-based SaaS solution that helps solopreneurs and network marketers manage contacts, connect with prospects, and build their business. This She-preneur has more than 20 years in the software industry working in a number of domains including aviation, healthcare, tech, online retail, and B2B marketplaces at ChannelAdvisor, Misys Healthcare, Compuware, CommerceOne, Valtech, and Mosaic ATM. Megan retired from software testing, married her passion for technology with entrepreneurship, and is now utilizing her management and leadership expertise to help and mentor women to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship. Here is her story.
In 2014, Megan left corporate life, followed the entrepreneurial calling, and quickly grew a business in a network marketing health and beauty company. She experienced firsthand the lack of tools available to support individual entrepreneurs. Enter Jennifer Turnage, a former colleague with more than 25 years of operational, financial, and leadership experience who served as the Chief Financial Officer for eight investor-backed SaaS companies with five successful liquidity events. Jennifer also owned a network marketing business and saw the gap in the marketplace as an opportunity.
The two tech executives teamed up, got busy as bees (had to say it) to develop myBeeHyve and learn more about this untapped market segment that is 20 million people in the US and more than 103 million globally. They found that a large percentage of network marketing consultants have little to no experience with technology and that most network marketing companies offer little or no support for sales-focused contact management. They designed a solution for network marketers but have since expanded to individual entrepreneurs and sales consultants who need a simplified, easy-to-use mobile system and the hand-holding attention that makes myBeeHyve unique.
Since their launch they have engaged over 10,000 customers from more than 125 brands, including Alcone, Arbonne, Avon, Beachbody, Beauty Counter, Color Street, doTerra, Herbalife, Isagenix, It Works!, Juice Plus, LeVel-Thrive, LimeLight , Limitless Worldwide, Mary Kay, Modere, Monat, Norwex, Nu Skin, Nutrisail, OneHope, Paparazzi, Plexus, Scentsy, SeneGence, Rodan & Fields, Thirty-One, TruVision Health, World Ventures, Xyngular, Young Living, and Younique. They have offices in Raleigh and Wilmington, was a recipient of a 2018 NC IDEA SEED grant and was named a Startup To Watch at the 2018 NC TECH Awards.
What’s next for myBeeHyve is simple: “To empower women to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship.” What’s also next is the Swarm on April 27th in Raleigh, a one-day event that includes six trainers covering the topics to grow your business. Sessions include social media, how to create beautiful graphics, mastering live videos, mindset, and more!
Q. You and Jennifer started an amazing company. Tell us more about how that came about?
Jennifer and I met years ago working together at ChannelAdvisor and stayed in touch over the years. When I joined a network marketing company, I shared the opportunity with her and we both struggled to find a technology platform to help us run our “side gigs.” The CRM (customer-relationship management) systems out there aren’t designed for the solopreneur and do not work well on mobile devices. So, we finally decided it was time to build what we (and thousands of other solopreneurs) were looking for! We started myBeeHyve with the female network marketer in mind but quickly realized that other solopreneurs out there need this platform. myBeeHyve is an elegantly simple, streamlined CRM for the solopreneur… and it works from any mobile device or desktop. We both use it every day.
Q. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Nothing makes me happier than hearing from our myBeeHyve users about their business growth and success because of our platform. When a user tells me that they just hit a huge goal and they couldn’t have done it without myBeeHyve, well… that’s what it’s all about.
Q. What do you think the greatest challenge(s) is/are for startups in the present Triangle startup environment?
Navigating the funding game isn’t easy. When you are just starting out and in full execution mode, every minute counts. The No. 1 focus is your customer. However, building relationships with potential investors is time-consuming and pulls you away from actually building the business. There seems to be a disconnect for startups that are bootstrapping vs. seeking funding.
Q. What drives or shapes the person you are today?
My parents had an enormous influence on me. My dad ALWAYS told my sisters and me that we could be ANYTHING we wanted…and my mom quietly did ALL the things. By listening to them and watching them, I truly believed anything was possible if you put in the work. Now, the community of other female entrepreneurs, including the myBeeHyve user community, is what keeps me going. We pull together to lift each other up, encourage one another, and offer support.
Q. Share something we might not know about you – preferably personal.
I was a math major in college and spent over 20 years in the software testing space….but I have recently discovered that I LOVE to write. I hated writing in school…I felt like writing papers was a form of personal torture. However, I recently started a blog and am finding a great sense of freedom in writing. Jennifer I both contribute to the myBeeHyve blog and maintain personal blogs of our own. I never would’ve imagined that in my life.
Q. What did you think you were going to do professionally when you were young?
My earliest dreams were to be an astronaut. However, looking back, I can see I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I started a cookie business in high school, wedding cake business after college, sold hand-made goods in several local shops, and there were several other attempts at working for myself. I learned a LOT from many failures along the way. I think deep down I always wanted to start my own business and work for myself…I just had to wait a while to manifest the right fit and the right partner.
Q. If you could change something/anything (pie in the sky) what would you change?
I would figure out that exact moment that young girls suddenly decide that they are not good enough, smart enough, “whatever” enough. I would create a way to permanently get rid of that change that happens in almost all young girls. I have an 8-year-old daughter and right now she, and all of her friends, believe they can do or be anything. I would find a way to keep THAT sense of belief in yourself alive in every woman.
Q. What gets you most excited about the future?
Honestly….not knowing what is next gets me excited! Things are changing so quickly in both the technology space AND entrepreneurial community….I truly believe that anything is possible. I am excited about what is coming my way that I have NO idea about yet!
Q. Fast forward 15 years from now and where do we find Megan?
Hmmmm….sitting on a beach in Cabo soaking up the sun on a fabulous family vacation?? I do hope that 15 years from now, I can look back and see that our technology at myBeeHyve empowered tens of thousands of solopreneurs to achieve success in their businesses. I am quite certain you will find me actively engaged with the female entrepreneurial community…..helping other women pursue their dreams and supporting them along the way.
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