For Jilea Hemmings, giving up wasn’t an option. Watching her dreams come to life is something that Hemmings is used to. Starting her career in the healthcare industry, she put it on hold to launch a company with her husband Jamie called “Greenie Tots,” a meatless food option, after struggling to find healthy food options for their son, who is autistic. Unfortunately, after running into issues with an investor, whom the couple turned down an offer from Shark Tank to work with, the company was shut down after six years. “It was hard to maintain that level of business without proper capital,” Hemmings said. “But there were so many lessons learned in the process.”
Wanting to share her experiences with others, the Florida A&M University grad went to work on writing her first book, “The Untold Truth about Building a Startup: 17 Lessons Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know,” and before she knew it, many startup entrepreneurs were coming to her asking for her help, turning a negative into a positive. With her first stint at entrepreneurship coming to a halt, she went back into the healthcare industry thinking things would be a little different, only to find out the same problems were still waiting for her. “One of the things that I always saw being a [sales] representative is that the job could be done better,” Hemmings said. “A lot of resources are put into [sales] reps and many times the meetings are unsuccessful because [doctors’] patients are the number one priority and staff has to coordinate lunches and meetings, when all this could be done in one platform.”
So Hemmings and her husband created the platform. It only took them four short months. BestTyme is a sleek work-hack for life-science professionals, allowing clinicians to set preferences for when and how sales reps meet with them, and allows sales reps to structure their day by zip-code with an automatic calendar, meals, and even routing function. Hemmings outsourced help when needed in areas she was clueless in, which she talks about in her book. “Don’t spend time on trying to become a master at something you’re not good at,” Hemmings advised. “Outsource in those areas and focus on what you are good at.”
The serial entrepreneur promised not to make the same mistakes previously made when raising capital. Recently, the Hemmings raised over $200,000. After meeting with some clients looking to invest in a startup, the Hemmings agreed that they were the perfect team to partner with. “I was very hesitant, and I think that’s the most important part about the whole process,” Hemmings said. “It was the first time that I met with some investors who was in sync with the plan. They didn’t want to just provide capital but wanted to be a part of the whole process.”
Since launching in February 2018 and feeling more confident the second time around, Hemmings still ran into some challenges, the main one being doubt coming from outsiders who were in awe of black founders creating a company such as BestTyme. “We will talk about what the app does and how it builds relationships and then they will see our faces and become shocked,” Hemmings said with a laugh. “I’m sure we will get that more as we start to expand and deal with the Fortune 500 companies, but I have learned that as black tech founders, we pitch our companies different.”
With offices in Chicago and Florida, Hemmings is looking forward to being the new kid on the block with BestTyme and hoping to learn from the startup community, which she understands will come with some roadblocks. “We are so new, so we know that doors will close,” Hemmings said. “But once we get to the table, we can say BestTyme is here, phenomenal solutions, here is why.”
BestTyme is available on iPad, Android & iOS.