Christabel Ghansah is the Founder of Curlnalyzer. Curlnalyzer is a platform/app using AI technology to assess hair types/textures and customizing products and hairstyles for users.
Their goal is to promote accessibility to products and resources for people with naturally curly hair and challenge Eurocentric standards of beauty and professionalism.
When Christabel isn’t working on Curlnalyzer, she can be found at her 9-5 working in economic development for a city in Gwinnett County. She is a 3x graduate of Georgia State University and is currently a member of the Main Street Entrepreneurial Seed Fund cohort 3.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- The story of Curlnalyzer
- MSESF and how others can get involved
- The importance of accelerator programs
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:00] So. Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on pay. Built in Atlanta, on pay is the top rated payroll and HR software anywhere. Get one month free at onpay.com. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. But this is a very special one. It’s the GSU. Any special interviews where we’re interviewing folks that are coming out of that program and involved in the Main Street Fund? Today on the show, we have Christabel Ghansah with Curlnalyzer. Do I say that right Curlnalyzer correctly?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:00:54] I know it’s a mouthful. Yes, that’s correct.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:56] Well, Christabel, congratulations on developing Curlnalyzer. Can you tell us a little bit about what it is and how other folks can learn about it?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:01:06] Absolutely. Thank you so much for the opportunity. So, Curlnalyzer, we are still very much in the ideation stage and Main Street has been helping us, helping out with fleshing out that idea a little bit and turn it into a product. But the main goal really is to promote accessibility to hair care products and hairstyles for black women, specifically individuals that have a little bit more kinky curly hair that have difficulty finding products for their hair texture. That’s what we’re doing here at Colonel Kaiser.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:37] So what was the genesis of the idea? Was this a problem you had or your friends had or family members had? Like, how did you say, you know what, this is a problem I think technology might help us solve?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:01:47] Yes, all of the above. But yes, primarily because it’s a problem I have in speaking with friends, family members, sisters, I have three older sisters and we all keep natural black hair. It’s an issue that we all face. And actually, I was taken a class, I was enrolled in the MBA program at Georgia State, and I graduated last December 2021 and taken a class with Dr. Pinn in Digital Innovation. And that was the basis of the class really encouraging us to think outside the box a little bit and find problems that we’re all facing individually and how we can create innovative ways to solve those problems. So that’s how we came about initially.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:30] So when you were younger, did you think, Oh, one day I’ll be an entrepreneur?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:02:36] I don’t think so. I don’t think I ever had that idea. I actually didn’t know what was involved. I mean, I’d heard about it seeing individuals submit people that work full time as entrepreneurs. But that has never been my goal. It just sort of fell into my life. I guess that’s not really a good way to put it, but I didn’t think I was going to be an entrepreneur growing up. But here we are.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:03] But here we are. And I mean, part of it is you’re involved with Georgia State, right? You graduated at Georgia State and multiple degrees. Right. And and one of the things JSU does a great job with is to at least explore entrepreneurism in in almost all, if not all of their majors. Right. Like there’s a little bit of entrepreneurship you can glean in, in wherever you are in that university. And maybe that contributed a bit.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:03:35] Mm hmm. Oh, absolutely. I would say that digital innovation class that I took contributed a lot because we did have entrepreneurs, individuals that have started their own businesses and had ideas while they were enrolled come and speak to us in the class. And so even there was an idea that I’d been sort of thinking about a little bit. It was through that class that I realized that maybe I can turn this into something that everybody else can find useful and not just me. So I would definitely say being a student multiple times at Georgia State and having the opportunity to network and speak with other entrepreneurs like definitely played into me wanting to turn this idea into a product.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:17] Now, are you a technologist? Like, how are you kind of handling the technology part of this? Because it’s one thing to go, well, my hair is really curly, and that would be great if there was an app that would just kind of tell me what to buy. Right. But like, how do you make the technology you do that?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:04:35] Technology background. Unfortunately, my background is very much in public administration and the social sciences. So not a field that I’m very familiar with technology, but actually through the Main Street Fund, I’ve been able to connect with other individuals that have the background that I can find their services. I haven’t committed to anyone just yet. I think it’s a very important decision that I have to take my time and make. But I’ve been through the program, met different people that I’ve spoken with and still like vetting and seeing who I would eventually have on my team.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:14] Now that is a big decision and you want to hopefully get it right or close to right. Is there any advice for other non tech founders out there that are doing what you’re doing of like what are kind of some of the red flags? You’re meeting somebody, you’re like, oh, this is not going to be a fit or, hey, this person. Potential. Is there anything you’ve learned thus far on how to kind of hone in on the appropriate technology partner?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:05:38] Right. I mean, I think the the main Seed Entrepreneurship Seed Fund, that’s something that we’re all learning. We have different sessions and they teach us different things that we should look out for and how we should build our team and things like that. So I would say just talk to as many people as you possibly can and don’t make the decision like right away. Because for me personally, I’m looking for someone that works in the field and knows what they’re doing. But I also want to make sure that it’s the right fit and it’s someone that equally cares about what I’m doing. So I would rather have someone that cares about what I’m doing and have the background also than just someone that has the background. So yeah, that I think wanting that both in one person has made the process a little longer. But at the same time, like I said, I think it’s a very important decision and so I want to take my time and make that decision. But yeah, I think my advice would be just talk to as many people as possible and vet out people based on what you’re looking for.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:43] Now, what has been kind of the most rewarding part of the process thus far?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:06:49] Oh, I would definitely say the customer discovery process. So we’ve had three different sessions based on customer discovery alone. And my one big aha moment or my takeaway has been sort of like we all came into the program having an idea based on problems that we individually faced and we wanted to. Find a solution for. But again, we want to get it to a point where it’s not just beneficial to us, it’s beneficial to other people. So we have to make sure we take in feedback from the ideal customer right into consideration as well. So talking to people outside of family, friends and people in that in my inner circle who will obviously give me positive feedback and actually seeking out who I think my ideal customer base and getting their feedback and what they would like to see and if this is even a problem for them that they want to solve, you know, that has helped me really validate my idea and take a different approach than what I had in mind initially when I came into the program. So I think that has been extremely beneficial.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:01] Has there been any kind of big hurdle thus far or has it been kind of smooth sailing?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:08:07] Oh, it’s been challenging. I’m not going to lie. I am. I think if I were doing this full time, it wouldn’t have been as challenging as it’s been. But I also work full time and working on this idea full time with the Main Street Fund. So it has been challenging, like planning everything and making sure I’m on top of everything and meeting the deadlines because after every session we have homework assignments that we have to do and check in with our mentor and things like that. So you have to make sure you’re keeping on, otherwise you’re going to fall behind and not meet the expectations at the end of the program. So that has been very challenging. And also just getting out of my comfort zone and talking to people, you know, and hearing some feedback that is not very positive, but it’s feedback nonetheless that will help flesh out the idea a little bit. So it’s been emotionally tasking, it’s been physically task and it’s been challenging overall, but still very fulfilling.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:14] Now, do you have anybody else on the team or is it just you?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:09:18] I do have my brother helping out in terms of the operations side of things and making sure we’re keeping on deadline and when we’re doing the customer discovery. He’s there to take the notes for me. So it’s not just me going having to talk to people and memorize or like take notes at the same time, because I think that can be confusing sometimes if it’s just one person. So shout out to my brother.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:47] Yeah, everybody’s got to help a little, right?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:09:50] A little bit, yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:52] Now, being part of the Main Street Entrepreneurial Seed Fund, that’s a big achievement just unto itself. That process you mentioned, you’ve been gaining a lot of insight from going through it. Probably without that fund, you might not have taken these steps. Right.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:10:12] Actually, you know, like, to be honest with you, when I applied initially because the one of the cohort members that I applied not saying that the funding is not nice, but when I applied, Michelle, I didn’t realize there was a funding aspect to it because I think the opportunity to actually meet people that work in the field and can give you very specific feedback and guide you a little bit. Also in terms of like turning your idea or even people that have the product, making it a little bit better and going to the next stage in itself is very valuable. But absolutely the funding has been also helpful in terms of me bringing on people to my team, because even the fact that we’re very small, like nobody is still going to work for free. So the fund has been a very nice cushion also, but I think I would have still applied even if there was no funding attached to it.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:04] Right. But would you do you think you would have gone this far in pursuing this analyzer solution if you weren’t part of this program? Do you think you would have done this without being part of that kind of having that help?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:11:19] Oh, I don’t know. I would have gotten this far without the help. I think it’s pushed me like it’s just been a couple of months, but I’ve made a huge progress since when I started the program, because literally when I started the program, I didn’t have any product. I was literally just an idea that I presented to the team and thankfully they thought it was a good idea and they were willing to support. But I don’t think I would have gotten as far as I have gotten if I didn’t have that support. So it’s definitely been very beneficial to my success. Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:53] Yeah. I think that the Main Street and other other kind of initiatives like this really, because they put you on a path to success, like there are things to do, you have homework, like you have to do things. So it forces.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:12:10] You to mentors, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:12:11] It forces you to.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:12:13] Do this when you work? Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:15] Because otherwise it’ll be like, hey, I have this idea. And then you would like maybe get to it, maybe on a vacation, you’d bring it up again. But it could it could take years for it to come to life. And this is like, well, now you’re on a clock, you’ve got deadlines, you’ve got things have to happen now.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:12:31] Absolutely. Like we have a schedule and every couple of weeks there’s a class, an assignment. You’re checking in with your mentor in between. It’s yes, you have to keep up.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:42] Right. And then. But it’s paying off, though. You’re making you can see real progress.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:12:47] I know. I am amazed. Like I didn’t think I had it in me, but yeah, very amazed at my progress so far.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:56] Well, it’s a big achievement. You should be super proud of yourself. This is I mean, this is a big deal.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:13:01] Thank you so much. It is a big deal. I’m coming. I’m now getting to realize it. But when I started, the process was a little bit overwhelming. But now looking back and seeing how far I’ve come and the progress that I’ve made, it’s just amazing. So, yes, I’m very proud of myself.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:19] So what do you need more of? How can we help?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:13:23] Oh yes. So I am still doing customer feedback. I don’t think I’ll ever stop even when my product is fully on the market. I’m always going to want to hear people’s feedback on how things are working, how we can make things better for folks. So anybody that’s interested, please email us at info or no. Hello. Hello friend. Please email us at hello at the dot com. We’re still looking to build our team. We’re looking for our tech person. We’re looking for individuals that really care about this product that we’re building to help us in the customer discovery page. So space. So anybody that’s interested at all please email us at hello at the dot com.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:08] So it’s a. Fertilizer is the.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:14:13] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:14] All right, let me. It’s. Hello.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:14:17] Hello? At at Pearl’s.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:19] C u r l l.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:14:20] U r l n a l y z e r dot com.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:29] And then when they do that, that’ll get to you. Are you on any of the social platforms too, or is this the main way to get a hold of you?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:14:38] This is the main way to get a hold of me. I’m on LinkedIn kind of like this. Not yet. Personally. I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on Instagram and other social media platforms, but I I’m centralizing all my communication to our email for right now.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:53] Right. And if they want to contact you and social, what is share like the spelling of your name so they can find you?
Christabel Ghansah: [00:15:00] Sure. Yes. My first name. C h Christ. A B e l last name is an s h and that’s Cristobal Gonzales.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:10] Well, Cristobal, thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Christabel Ghansah: [00:15:16] Thank you so much, Lee. This was awesome. Truly appreciate your time.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:19] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on GSU. Any radio?
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