Women in business have a new tool to help them through these perilous economic times, thanks to Gilbert entrepreneur Allie Stark.
She recently rolled out Moxie. Inspire. Empower. Grow., a comprehensive platform that businesswomen can use to connect.
A former businesswoman and a mother of two, Stark bills Moxie as an app that “combines the social aspect of Facebook with the business aspect of LinkedIn.”
Accessible both from its website, moxieinspire.com, and downloadable on mobile devices, moxieinspire.com enables users to create a business profile and bio for starters. Then they can create groups, post topics of discussion, teach classes, attend classes, private message other members and create in- person or virtual events.
The app also allows members to search by category or geographical location, and create longtime connections that could last a lifetime.
“It’s like carrying a whole directory of women-owned businesses right in the palm of your hand,” Stark said.
Stark’s creation is a natural progression from a non-business-oriented digital social media platform she and a partner devised three years ago called The Girlfriend Connection, an umbrella for 36 different Facebook groups across the U.S. and Canada that help women find friends.
“Women thrive with connection,” she said. “We need other women to talk to, lean on, laugh with – everything. Often, job opportunities take us away from our roots and we are left to establish new relationships. The older we get, it seems the harder it gets. Our groups make finding friends who share common interests easier. Who doesn’t like easier? And fun?”
“No business is allowed in the girlfriend groups,” she added. “They are just for fun and making friends.”
That sense of sisterhood has now carried over to moxieinspire.com.
“With everything going on in today’s world, women supporting women both in business and in life is more important than ever,” Stark explained. “When women work together by inspiring, empowering, and supporting one another, the sky’s the limit on their individual growth potential.”
“Moxie. Inspire. Empower. Grow. is a social network in itself. It’s a separate app. It can be used just like existing social media networks. You can set up a business profile and search members by business category or by geographic location.”
A Nebraska native with degrees in elementary education and psychology, Stark moved to Arizona in 2000, settling in Scottsdale until she moved to Gilbert five years later after she and her husband Richard decided the town was a good place to raise their children, Savanna, 15, and Jaxon, 12.
For a while she ran a business called Moxie Estate Sales, working in the East Valley and Ahwatukee, after a friend needed an estate sale service “but didn’t know how it worked or where to start.”
“I found there was a great need for the service with our large elderly population who often move into care homes and need help liquidating their estates,” she recalled. “It was nice to be able to help so many families.”
Though she closed the business when she became the primary caregiver for her father-in-law, the “moxie” name stuck with her.
“I had a friend turn mentor who was helping me with all the legalities,” she explained. “When it came time to choose a name, she told me it didn’t matter what I called it because I would be a success regardless. I asked her why she felt that way, she said, because I had moxie. I wanted to honor her for her help by naming my company ‘Moxie.’”
Indeed, she thinks women could use some help finding their moxie.
Stark believes women in business need a comprehensive platform to connect, learn and grow.
“A recent study by global marketing services company, Experian, revealed that women-owned businesses tend to generate lower revenues with 14.5 percent of women-owned businesses generating sales in excess of $500,000, compared to 24 percent of male owned,” she noted.
“Historically, it seems that women have been taught that we need to compete against each other in order to succeed. I don’t believe that and I know that I’m not alone,” Stark said.
“When we work together, we can all succeed. Networking groups and BNIs can do great things, but they usually command a large time commitment and come with a long list of responsibilities. I knew there was an easier way.”
And she thinks Moxie. Inspire. Empower. Grow. Offers that ease in connecting and learning.
“You can carry a whole network of women and women-owned business with you everywhere you go,” she said. “Whether you need business advice, or you’re looking for a women-owned business to support. It’s all there.”
Stark’s target group comprises “any woman who is serious about building her business and supporting others to do the same.”
Less than two months into marketing the platform, she said her biggest challenge “has been trying to get people to understand what it is.”
“Locally, I’m known for leading a women’s Facebook social group (Gilbert Girlfriends), so just the idea that this is a whole social network in itself and not part of an existing social media network like Facebook has been challenging. I am not the leader, just the developer and founder. I hate to continuously make comparisons to Facebook, but the apps do have a lot of similarities in their usage and capabilities.”
But she’s convinced that once businesswomen see the possibilities in Moxie. Inspire. Empower. Grow., they’ll flock to it.
“What sets it apart from other social networks is that it’s specifically designed for women in business to support each other – none of the other noise that can come with social networking,” she explained, adding:
“There are no hidden fees, no paid advertising, no selling your personal information for target marketing, no algorithms that control and power other existing social media networks. Similar to Facebook, the Moxie app has its own events tab and its own messaging system. Members can set up in person and/or virtual events whenever they want.”