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Cover Image courtesy of Ty'Lisha Summers

Black Perspectives #02: Ty’Lisha Summers (Entrepreneur & Chemical Engineer)

Helping Make Financial Freedom Possible…

SSD: Tell me a bit more about the inception of SpenDebt. What inspired the area of focus there?

TS: My husband and I’s own experiences with having debt, and then becoming debt-free, inspired us to create a company to help people do the same. People are stuck in this never-ending debt spiral without a way, know-how, or maybe even a desire to change their situation.

We wanted to do our part to help people know they can overcome debt and don’t have to owe people for the rest of their lives (like we were taught growing up).

SSD: What do you hope to accomplish as you continue to pursue what you’re doing?

TS: We are just getting started, so there is a long list. We have yet to tap the full potential of our company.

At a high level, we hope to save one million people from financial fatalities every time they swipe their debit card or have a banking transaction. Making money is great but being able to have a real impact on people that could ultimately change the trajectory of their lives, their families, and generations to come is major!!! Creating this company is not for us, but [it’s] to truly help other people like us.

Growing up in single-parent homes, finances weren’t something we discussed. I asked for things and somehow my mom made a way. Unbeknownst to me, she had a lot of credit cards that were maxed out. And she was making the monthly payments, but by only paying the minimums she was going to be in debt for a very long time.

Financial education is another important aspect of what we do and hope to achieve. So, continuing to help people become more financially educated and more comfortable with talking about their finances [is definitely a goal]. The more we talk about it the more we will be willing to address it and seek help for it.

The SpenDebt Logo along with a mention of popular platforms it has been featured on (as of this posting).

SSD: SpenDebt is trying to address a HUGE issue (or rather, a number of issues)…

What thing(s), outside of your platform, do you think would help to better equip the average person in becoming debt-free (or at least not drowning in it)?

TS: Financial education. Growing up, no one told me that the payments creditors were asking me to pay were just the minimum payment – and that if I could pay more every month then I should so that I could get out of debt faster. Something that simple can save years of me being in debt and save thousands of dollars that I would incur in interest.

Knowledge is so powerful as it relates to finances and being ignorant on the subject is no longer an excuse. If you don’t know, ask or google it.

There are so many resources that the majority of us have access to at our fingertips and we have to become financially educated so that we can become better stewards of our financial wellbeing. This not only impacts us but generations to come.

Entrepreneurship can be lonely, and it always helps if you can have a network of people that can relate to you and your struggles.

Ty’Lisha Summers

SSD: Clearly you and your husband support each other as a team and as spouses through all of this, but what is your support network like outside of you two? And if you had to give a score on a scale of 1 – 10 (1 = lowest; 10 = highest) on how important it is for a Black Entrepreneur to have a strong support network — what score would you give that factor & why?

TS: Our extended family and close friends support us 1,000% From being customers to sharing content and spreading the word, they are amazing!

I would score the importance of a strong network at a 10 for all entrepreneurs but especially Black Entrepreneurs. Nowadays, there are a handful of Black Entrepreneurs that we can reach out to, but the numbers are still small (especially for my husband as a Black Male Entrepreneur).

There are a lot of resources and networks for Female- and Black Female Founders, but not so for Black Male Entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship can be lonely, and it always helps if you can have a network of people that can relate to you and your struggles.

Peer support systems matter.

SSD: That’s a good callout. Are there any Black Entrepreneurs who you admire in particular? And if so, why?

TS: Melissa Bradley has been in the game for a long time, and she is AMAZING! If you don’t know her look her up…and sit down because her resume is lengthy! She is genuine and out to help the new majority. I love her heart and she is always available for advice.

SSD: You haven’t mentioned them, but as your friend – I know you have a family of your own. What lessons do you hope your kids are taking from seeing their parents pursue the routes you two have chosen?

TS: Every day you must show up. If you don’t show up for the game, then you can’t expect to get called in to play. Sometimes half the battle is showing up for the day. You never know what opportunities are waiting for you.

Ty'Lisha holding a huge novelty check from a competition she won for funding.

Hard work always pays off. Even if you hear a million no’s, there is a lesson in every experience you have, so make sure you learn what you are supposed to learn from it to make you better for the next opportunity that presents itself. There are so many lessons, but that is what comes to mind for now.

SSD: Haha – that’s plenty for a good list!

How does it feel each time that you push along even further?

TS: It is exciting and nerve-racking at the same time 🙂

Exciting because we are able to live to see another day, we received a yes (or at least not a no) or we rolled out a new feature. Nerve-racking because, oftentimes, it feels like we take 1 step forward and 5 steps backward, or there is still so much more left to do.

SSD: For the last questions, I figure we can hear a few points on some lessons you’ve learned…

What trait of your own do you think you’ve had to change or refocus the most in your career path?

TS: To not be so defensive when I receive critiques, and to really try to understand the other person’s perspective based on the feedback they give. I feel we know where our weaknesses are but when people call us out on them, we automatically jump on the defensive versus listening, admitting if it is an opportunity area, and developing a plan to improve. This has taken time, but I am better for it because of how I handle feedback now.

I would encourage anyone inspired by me to be better than me.

Ty’Lisha Summers

SSD: And lastly, what’s a tip that you’d give someone who sees you, is inspired, and wants to follow in your footsteps?

TS: I would encourage anyone inspired by me to be better than me. Whatever your goals in life, always remember “your why” because when life gets hard or your journey to success gets rough, your why will keep you going.

What we are working on is bigger than us. And we wouldn’t want an entire generation to miss their blessings because we stopped when it got hard.

Be better than me.

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