[from Yahoo Finance] This ex-Googler pawned her 24-karat gold jewels she inherited from her mother and sold some of her Google stock to launch her new
Chia-Lin Simmons doesn’t seem like the kind of person to launch a fashion-focused startup. “In my native form, I’m basically in a Google T-shirt and yoga pants talking to engineers,” Simmons told Business Insider.
And yet, Simmons is the founder of LookyLoo, an Oakland startup that is wholly centered on fashion. LookyLoo plans to use artificial intelligence to help women identify the proper fit while shopping for clothing, which would let women consult other women on the platform throughout the shopping process. Think of it as having an unbiased opinion at your fingertips when trying something on in a dressing room.
LookyLoo’s platform is in its infancy, with the app slated to go live across the US in September, but Simmons’ vision has already gotten some attention — she spoke at San Francisco Design Week in early June about AI’s role in the future of retail.
Simmons has yet to delve into funding rounds for her company, so no money has been raised yet. But to get the ball rolling on LookyLoo’s early development, Simmons sold some of her Google stock — and took the 24-karat gold jewels her mother had given her to a San Francisco pawn shop.
“This is how women founders move; we don’t get the benefit of the doubt,” Simmons said.
Simmons’ experience in tech spans more than 20 years. She’s held executive positions at Amazon’s Audible, Time Warner/AOL, and Samsung’s connected car business Harman before joining Google’s Play division in a global partner marketing role.
“Nobody turns down Google. They’re like the mafia,” Simmons said. “They call, you’re like ‘OK.’”
She and her two male cofounders, Rafael Saavedra and another who chose not to be named, have been around the block of Silicon Valley’s tech industry, a field known for being dominated by fresh-eyed and bushy-tailed 20-somethings.
“We’re not 22 and just graduated; we know what it means to build technology,” Simmons said.
She’ll kick off funding rounds for her company soon, but in the interim, she said she’s lucky to have been able to live off of her Google stock and the funds she made from her heirloom gold, a privilege unafforded to the majority of female founders in the startup territory.
“This is where most women’s businesses and startups fail, they don’t get that first vote of validation,” Simmons said.
To kick off the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of American Jewelry and Loan, Les and Seth Gold established The Gold Bank which will support Detroit’s youngest entrepreneurs for years to come.
The first round of ‘Shark Tank’ style pitches were presented by students of Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan. For this exercise, Les and Seth were joined by their friend and colleague Kristen Holt, CEO of Greenpath Financial Solutions. The students hail from Les’ alma mater, Southfield High School.
“These students remind me of myself at their age,” Les said about the teens. The pitches, which both resulted in funding via microloans, were followed by a Q&A session.
The Gold Bank is intended to fund companies founded by students who participate in programming by Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan. To learn more, visit www.jamichigan.org!
and presented ideas for businesses centered on fashion footwear and phone cases.
Seth Gold, who gained celebrity status via his role on truTV’s “Hardcore Pawn,” tells a story that should trigger an aha moment for any budding entrepreneur.
Gold, vice president of American Jewelry and Loan in Detroit, remembers a seminar at a local college where he met a woman who was trying to get a specialty popcorn business off the ground. She took a Baskin-Robbins kind of approach. Think bubble-gum flavored popcorn, cookies-and-cream popcorn, you name it.
“She brought in bags and bags of popcorn. She had 30 flavors you could choose from,” Gold said.
Gold, 36, had one question: What flavors are people actually buying?
While options are good, consumers can get so overwhelmed that they don’t know what to choose.
And truthfully, creating too many options only forced the woman — who still had to pay bills by working a day job — to toil away on the popcorn business until 4 in the morning. All those flavors created extra costs and cut into any profits, too.
“Let’s focus on what you can actually sell,” Gold said.
For many, focusing on keeping it simple can be a huge step toward financial independence. What can you sell? What can you do to keep a job, build a career, make money?
Gold and his father, Les Gold, 67, are partnering with Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan to encourage high school students who dream of running their own business. The so-called “Gold Bank” has contributed $10,000 to fund short-term microloans as part of the JA program.
The “Gold Bank” money is controlled and administered by Junior Achievement.
High school students involved in the JA Company program throughout Southeastern Michigan will be eligible for a loan, maybe $200 or $1,000. But before qualifying for any money, they’re required to do a “Shark Tank” style presentation to a panel of business leaders, including the Golds.
Margaret Trimer-Hartley, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan, said the size of the loan will vary, depending on the product and what’s needed to launch the business.
“This is a brand new concept,” Trimer-Hartley said.
Two student groups from Southfield High School for the Arts & Technology are expected to make pitches in late February. Other groups may be ready to make pitches for loans in early April, she said.
Some ideas include personalized iPhone cases and personalized footwear.
To qualify, the student companies must receive approval for their products from Junior Achievement USA and be able to successfully pitch their concept to the loan committee, she said.
The students will be responsible for paying back the loans, as well as paying interest at a low rate, in the same semester in which they borrow the money. The idea is to ensure that the program will fund more young entrepreneurs in the future.
“Young high school kids are going to come up with a business plan and present it to us,” Seth Gold said. “None of that money comes back to us, obviously.”
Les Gold, the patriarch pawnbroker who wrote a book called “For What It’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker,” said he’d like to see more young people develop a strong work ethic and take on the challenge of running a business.
Gold said one of the challenges the business faces is finding dependable employees — including people who will show up as scheduled and stick with the job.
“Even as a kid, it was important to me to go out and work and make money,” said Les Gold, who is president and owner.
As a child, he started learning about the pawnshop business from his grandfather Popsie.
As a teen, Gold — who is often photographed now wearing eye-catching men’s jewelry — started designing and selling his own chain-style necklaces and bracelets to area stores.
Running three pawnshops — one in Hazel Park, one in Pontiac and the landmark one in Detroit at the corner of Greenfield and 8 Mile Road — remains the focus. But the Golds are taking part in several financial literacy efforts — including holding some seminars in their pawnshops.
A year ago, for example, the pawnshop owners teamed up with the Pontiac Regional Chamber and other local business owners to hold a three-week course on entrepreneurship.
Read the original story: https://www.freep.com/story/money/personal-finance/susan-tompor/2018/02/09/young-entrepreneurs-get-micro-loans-hardcore-pawn-stars/1083760001/
In 1978, American Jewelry and Loan opened as Metro Detroit’s first suburban pawnshop. The 1,500 square foot location in Oak Park, Michigan was an offshoot of Sam’s Loan, a pawnshop at the corner of Wabash and Michigan Avenue where Les Gold grew up working for his grandfather. The move would change the trajectory of his life in ways he couldn’t have imagined while working alongside his “Popsie” as a youngster.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, American Jewelry and Loan, now with three stores including its iconic 50,000 sq.ft. Detroit location, Gold is partnering with Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan (JA), and its JA Company program to ensure young entrepreneurs in Southeastern Michigan are able to fund their own dream businesses.
The Gold Bank, gifted by American Jewelry and Loan, but controlled and administered by JA, will be the source for low-interest small business loans for students involved in the JA Company program, which teaches entrepreneurship to high school students.
“The hardest part of getting a business off the ground is finding start-up capital,” said Les Gold, Owner, American Jewelry and Loan. “With the Gold Bank, I am pleased that these young entrepreneurs will have one more option to find resources to build their companies and their futures,” Gold added.
Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan is the youth arm of economic development in the region. The volunteer-driven non-profit, founded in Detroit in 1949, will teach 60,000 students in 10 counties the “business of life”—financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work-readiness including career exposure and soft skills.
High school students involved in the JA Company program throughout Southeastern Michigan will be eligible for a loan from the Gold Bank. They must demonstrate the value and viability of their start-up during a “Shark Tank” style presentation to a panel of business leaders, including Les and his son Seth Gold. Students will be responsible for paying back the loans they obtain from the Gold Bank, with low interest, in the same semester in which they borrow it, thus ensuring the success of the program for years to come.
“The Gold Bank solves the problem every start-up business has—where to get money to launch a business,” said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, President of JA of Southeastern Michigan. “Our JA Company students will learn just how small business loans work in the real world,” added Trimer-Hartley.
Les and Seth Gold stopped by the Fox 2 Detroit studios to share some of the hottest gifts of the season. Want to learn more about these or other items from our store? Send an email to [email protected] and one of our sales professionals will help you find exactly what you’re looking for!
“When you break it down, there are 25 million people in the US who don’t have access to the traditional banking system,” Gold says. “What I want to do is inform them about what their options are to make ends meet.”
Read the full article in the September/October edition of DBusiness magazine, on newsstands now.
DBusiness magazine has named 30 of Detroit’s most dynamic business leaders to their annual 30 in Their Thirties list.
American Jewelry and Loan is proud to announce that Seth Gold is a member of the class of 2017.
Read more at www.dbusiness.com.
Join Seth alongside his father at their iconic Detroit store on Tuesday, September 19th at Inside the CEO Mind hosted by Detroit Regional Chamber.
Wigs 4 Kids is excited to announce that Les & Seth Gold from American Jewelry and Loan will be the Honorary Chairs at their 14th Annual Gala on Saturday, September 9, 2017! The Golds generously sponsor our money booth, donate an assortment of raffle prizes and take photos with our guests. We are fortunate to have their ongoing love & support of Wigs 4 Kids! Don’t miss out on your chance to meet them and help a great cause – tickets to our signature event are available at www.wigsforkids.org