A Day in the Life of a FORT Entrepreneur: FADE

What sparked your passion for starting FADE?

When I first moved to Arlington I tried 4 different barbers and none of them could get my haircut right. In fact, one of the cuts was so bad I wore a hat for months and then decided to shave my head just to grow out my hair again. The idea for Fade came out of this frustration, but it evolved into a passion during the customer discovery process. We interviewed over 250 barbers in DFW and asked them about what prevents them from running their business at its full potential. With every interview we started to learn more about the barbering industry, the strong link it has to communities, culture and men’s wellness. We saw an incredible opportunity to create technology that could not only empower local businesses but also create a significant change in the discovery process of an industry that hasn’t really been disrupted in 100 years. That was our aha moment, we decided to commit to building this venture.

What has been the biggest and most surprising obstacle you’ve had to overcome as an entrepreneur?

Successfully developing and launching a native mobile app is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve experienced in my life. I have no idea what I’d do without my CTO Brad. We fail to realize that the apps we use day to day are multimillion dollar if not billion-dollar companies. Setting real achievable goals is critical to any technology company that needs to execute on a product roadmap. There were countless times when we were stuck in the next feature fallacy and were overdeveloping our product instead of just launching and working directly with early customers. As Paul Graham says “If you think the first app or software you put out is perfect, you already launched too late”.

What does a typical day at FADE look like for you?

I don’t really have a typical day. Usually, it starts off with close to 2 hours of catching up on emails while listening to my favorite podcasts. Then I’d schedule a couple of investor calls across the day, spend 1-2 hours on design and admin work whether it’s new UI, support calls, or fine-tuning the website, branding and marketing strategies. On average, we also spend around just over an hour at the start and end of each day testing the app to make sure everything is up and running smoothly. When we’re not at the office though you’ll either find me at our barbershops (mostly Locker Room or Texas Fadez), a startup event in DFW or putting out a fire I wasn’t aware of until 30 minutes ago.

If you could describe your company in three words or phrases, what would they be?

Happy, Humble and Hungry.

What do you like best about being part of the RTI FORT cohort?

Definitely the people. The give-first mentality isn’t just a slogan it’s something I’ve noticed the whole RTI team and FORT cohort embody.

While meeting with other FORT members, has there been a significant example of contribution to each other’s business success?

Without a doubt. Whether it’s working on our pitch decks with Tyler, running through higher level growth concepts with Vu, or learning about startup valuations from an investor’s perspective through Hamiz, every day we work together to lift each other up. I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time and we collaborate with each other constantly.

Part of being a FORT member is giving back to the community.  How have you given back?

I’ve always been very involved in the startup community in both Dallas and Ft Worth especially with early-stage founders like myself. We make sure to accept every speaking opportunity, coach at events like startup weekends and guest lecture at entrepreneurship classes when our time permits. Most importantly, I think as a founder it’s critical to help pass down your learnings to others who are in a similar position. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for every peer, mentor and advisor who invested their own time to ensure we avoided the mistakes they made or had to learn from the school of hard knocks. This could be the difference between life and death for a startup.

Find out more about FADE on their website: https://www.fadenow.com/

Want to participate in a program that meets you where you are and helps you take your small business to the next level?  Our FORT initiative, designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, will inspire and empower you to do just that.  Be on the lookout for FORT applications opening soon.

Written by

Nicolette Nelson