Three Indigo proves there’s room for innovation in the startup ecosystem.
Ideation to a successful launch, followed by an end user demand to scale–all during a global pandemic means you’ve struck product-market fit gold.
With access as their North Star and minority founders’ needs baked into their very ethos, Three Indigo launched early last year. The brainchild of Co-founders Shan Cureton and Nita Saint-Hilaire, Three Indigo is a full-service consulting firm that supports staffing needs, financial prowess and scaling mentorship to founders. Cureton and Saint-Hilaire discovered a discrepancy in the resources available to founders of color and decided to become the help for others that they wish they had had.
“I needed Three Indigo. And Three Indigo didn’t exist.”
A word that embodies the duo behind Three Indigo is resilience.
Coming from humble beginnings, Shan Cureton would describe herself as a waymaker – no matter the challenge, she is quick to find her options and make her way to success. Shan is guided by her top three core values, they are drivers in everything she does: Wisdom, Spirituality, and Family. “If I can’t further my education or further my intellect on any given thing, it’s not something I want to be into.”
Born to two Haitian parents in New York, Nita Saint-Hilaire was brought up in a “figure it out” type of environment. Having to work from a young age shaped her work ethic in every regard and taught her that nothing is handed to you. “There is a saying about New York, ‘if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.’ It is VERY true. We had to be extremely resourceful, growing up in the 80s and 90s in New York, it was drastically different than what you see today.”
If you are keeping track, there are two co-founders, so who’s the third indigo? “We set off thinking maybe we would have an actual third person that we would partner with, like a developer of some sort,” Cureton explained, “but it snowballed into it just being me, Nita and the third person is what we like to call the ‘Spirit’ – she is super busy on our behalf.” Having that spiritual connection continually drives the duo to go the extra mile and push beyond their comfort zones.
A culmination of frustration with raising funds for their other business endeavors brought these two powerhouses together to form Three Indigo, but it was one event in particular that drove them to dive headfirst into the brand. Attending a conference for Black investors investing in diverse founders, Cureton and Saint-Hilaire were turned away and told to reach out to their personal networks instead. Perhaps the panic of the pandemic pushed these investors to be extra weary, but the pair were still left feeling disenchanted. Like many Black and Brown founders, the duo did not have friends and family with the resources to support capital requirements like their white counterparts may.
“Why isn’t there anyone out here really helping? It’s like go and do it yourself,” Cureton describes her feelings of frustration, “there was no one there to say ‘let me get you to the next step’”
Throughout the year that Three Indigo has been supporting the founder community, the business and services they offer has changed and evolved. Initially they would assist clients with pitch decks, however, they soon realized these businesses needed a lot more support than that. Soon enough Three Indigo was offering staffing and operations guidance, as well as helping founders with impostor syndrome reimagine their business growing into an enterprise with global reach potential–something many couldn’t even fathom.
Three Indigo is a welcome technical beacon for the non-technical founder. As the pair explained, diverse founders tend to create things to meet and solve their own needs, which is precisely the reason Three Indigo strives to help non-technical founders like themselves. “Everything needs technology, and we put on the technical hat, mapping out UX & UI for the non-technical founder,” said Saint-Hilaire.
The services Three Indigo provides really picks up where accelerators or incubators leave off, meaning founders need to have an established knowledge of business prior to coming to them. Since their services can be accessed on a deferred payment, Three Indigo wants to make sure the founders they work with are focused on expanding their business, either statewide or nationwide. As Cureton explained, “you need to invest in yourself before we can actually help you.”
So, what’s next for Three Indigo? On the agenda is building an in-house development team, which the pair are currently hard at work building out. They are also gearing up to launch their first fundraise round, so they are actively engaging investors. The overarching goal of Three Indigo is to be able to impact as many founders as possible on their journey, and a large part of bridging the gap in access to capital is not only finding investors, but working and signing on with the right investors.
The three members of Three Indigo are excited for the next phase of their own growth and even more galvanized to support the founder community in leveling up their businesses.