Dawn W. Dickson is CEO of PopCom, an automated retail company that uses facial recognition, AI and blockchain technology to help retailers collect valuable customer insights. The first CRM, data and analytics software provider for unattended retail, PopCom has developed technology to make kiosks and vending machines intelligent through data and analytics at the point of purchase. As a serial entrepreneur with over 16 years of experience in marketing and business development, Dickson launched four successful cash flow positive companies in 2002. Her most recent ventures include Flat Out of Heels, and PopCom, after identifying a need to make vending machines more intelligent.
What are three keys to raising money or capital?
Raising money is important, but [it’s] more so about building community. One of three keys is building those relationships, having that community of supporters and understanding what you’re doing. Secondly, once you have that community, it’s so important to be able to have a deep understanding of your business. For instance: how to make money? How to return these investors’ dollars? Investment is not a donation. A return is wanted. Also, it’s important to have your due diligence in order.
Why is it important to have a coach before submitting a pitch?
Many of us get caught up in the story or the passion that we forget to mention the things I really want to hear like the numbers, the team, and how one’s going to market. I recommend practicing, researching, and knowing your business thoroughly, so you can quickly pitch. It’s good to have a 32-second pitch, a 62-second pitch, a five-minute pitch, and a long-term 10-minute presentation in different formats. A coach can help you nail down what key things to bring up in each of those criteria. There are free resources online that provide you key points to hit, but I suggest having a coach.
Can you describe what it means to be a digital entrepreneur and why it is so important given the value of e-commerce and other software?
Digital entrepreneur means leveraging technology to the highest possibility; researching and emerging new technologies to align with your business.
At the start of PopCom, my software company for vending machines and kiosks, we were making machines smarter by adding credit card readers. We put our first vending machine in Atlanta airport then added this credit card to build software that leveraged facial recognition. Placing cameras on the outside of the machine helps count the traffic that walked by to understand the performance of my business.
What inspired you to choose, mentor and coach a phenomenal cadre of young women?
I believe in lifting as we climb. I know for a fact that so many people paved the way for me, directly or indirectly. It is a responsibility that I enjoy and [am] very happy to do. I coach many individuals and I volunteer my time to work with people, mainly if I know that I can directly help them.
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