Grow with Google coaches are mentors, teachers and leaders who want to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Birmingham, meet yours: Carmen Mays.
With more than a decade of public sector experience in community and economic development under her belt, Mays seeks out opportunities to expand equity. Her company Elevators, works alongside local communities to co-create equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems by prioritizing Black and Latinx creatives. She saw Grow with Google coaching as a way to do even more of that.
REV caught up with Mays for a Q&A to learn more about how her newest endeavor is strengthening Birmingham’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Sign up for upcoming webinars with Carmen Mays!
Optimize Your Energy For High Performance
Tuesday, March 23 from 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM CT
Q: How do you see digital tools bridging systemic gaps for Black and Latino small businesses?
A: Before we can discuss how digital tools can bridge systemic gaps for Black and Latino small businesses, what we need to discuss is access to high-speed internet. That is the most critical barrier in bridging systemic gaps for Black and Latino small businesses. With that access, the digital tools coaching becomes transformative because we not only show learners how to use internet-based products as consumers but also as business owners and producers. So yes, we would love for you to use Google search to find your favorite outfit for the upcoming Magic City Classic. But, we also want you to use Google My Business, Google Ads, and YouTube to showcase your business for the people coming to visit.
Q: You started a company called Elevators. Tell us about it as well as your experience building it.
A: Elevators has a well-known origin story. It was indeed an accident, I did not intend to start a business. And it was a protest to call out the lack of inclusion of Black and Brown creatives in the developing innovation economy. It has been difficult, but worth it. I have experienced some setbacks. I’ve experienced many doubters. But, I will tell you that the most rewarding aspect, aside from the checks, has been hearing from people who are thankful that they were finally seen in this city. People were happy that their dreams and their hopes were not treated as less than. And they were not being asked to conform or abandon who they were to “fit in” with an existing path. So yes, it has been difficult but extremely rewarding. And I look forward to doing more. Cheers to the contrarians!
Q: What led you to become a Grow with Google Digital Coach?
A: I have always wanted to work with Google and companies similar. To have them as a partner client is a great business accomplishment. And to work with the other digital coaches in the program is a privilege and a joy. But what’s most important is that I get to be a conduit. I get to introduce tools and information to people in my community that would not normally have access to it. It has been a wonderful experience of meeting people where they are and showing them step by step, how to use Google products and Google tools to improve their condition.
Q: How can entrepreneurs – particularly now – use Google to grow their business?
A: Google is more than search. There are many tools that can be used to improve your business functions like Google Analytics. And there are many tools to help people learn about your business like YouTube Ads. My job is to teach you about what’s available and help you decide what to use and when. So whether you’re looking to improve internal processes or expand into new markets, there is a Google product that can help you do it. And don’t forget to show up to class! I’m putting on multiple workshops each month.
Q: Why is it important for entrepreneurs to build their digital marketing skillset?
A: Although we are beginning to somewhat transition out of COVID restrictions, we’re still not there. And just as importantly, the majority of the world is still not there. Folks are very much still online and using digital tools like Google Meet and YouTube. A well-executed digital presence is still very valuable for business owners. You can have customers anywhere on this planet. You do not have to limit yourself to the geography of Birmingham. That’s the silver lining for entrepreneurs, if there is to be one. You can now reach people that you couldn’t reach before because they weren’t online. And with the Google Digital Coaches Program, you have more access to and knowledge about tools that can make that happen.
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Are you a startup looking for a foot in the door? Did you know we have an accelerator program that helps founders begin their entrepreneurial journey right here in the Switch district? TechStars is a dynamic three-month program that empowers entrepreneurs in their quest to discover product-market fit, gain traction, and access both capital and global mentorship. Operating in more than 30 cities worldwide, Techstars added Birmingham as a host for their energy-focused cohort.