It all started in entrepreneurship class.
Asia Frazier, a junior communications studies major and Tiffany Coleman, a junior digital science major were assigned a final project. The mission: to pitch a product idea.
The two women never thought “The Fresh App” would turn into a real business.
“We’ve been told that it’s an idea, but not a business,” Frazier said. “We’ve really been told everything. People really just try to discredit us and try to dethrone us … and that’s what I’m saying … If we would listen to that we literally wouldn’t have got this far.”
Designed to make college student’s life a little easier, the app’s platform allows students to advertise their services and sell their belongings. Students may also promote their services such as tech repair, tutoring, art, design, fashion and hair.
“You don't have to work at the fast-food restaurant or campus jobs anymore,” Coleman said. “You can literally make money doing something that you love. Who wouldn't jump on that?”
Frazier just wants the app to make a big difference.
“We're just focusing on putting it out there and really supporting and building the community … it's just the fact that we can be apart of something so great and purposeful. That's what really drives us,” Frazier said.
Both women are determined to change the stereotype of STEM professionals, with wanting to make an impact on the lives of youth and young black girls being a driving force for them.
“We’re not regular tech people, when you think about tech people, you’re thinking about, like, boring ‘locked in a chamber’ and coding for hours types of stuff,” Coleman said. “We have personalities where we speak out and bring awareness to a lot of different situations, and we’re fun.”
Frazier feels the two may face challenges in the business being African-American women. In 2016, 26 percent of the computing force were women, and less than 10 percent were women of color, according to the National Center for Women Information Technology.
“It definitely is going to be challenging because only two percent of tech is black women, and we’re part of the two percent,” Frazier said. “It’s really just raising awareness and these tech giants like Google try to bring in initiatives because they see the issues in the industry.”
Erika Jefferson, the CEO of Black Women in Science and Engineering said there should be more black STEM businesses.
“I think having more engineering firms owned by black females, more tech fields owned by black females, because I think that obviously is going to financially benefit communities of color,” Jefferson said.
Money is not what drives Colman and Frazier. Their main motivation is improving underrepresented communities.
“All of our offices will be in inner cities and poverty areas, so we can give those kids internships and the latest technology and bring awareness to communities and what’s going on,” Coleman said.
The first office will be located in Flint, Michigan, which the Census Bureau records 41.9 percent of Flint citizens in poverty.
“I feel like we should worry about our own thing and really have this be in an area that is not breeding grounds for growth, creativity and development,” Coleman said.
Frazier and Coleman’s goal is to become a major tech business and bring light to underserved children and communities.
Coleman, originally from Flint, wants to show the state of the children in poverty.
“If people want to have meetings with us, they’re gonna have to come to us and see this as a reality,” Coleman said. “We believe that all the tech jobs are usually all in one place … They really kind of forget about kids in the inner city, if we put our business there it’s able to infiltrate through us in the community.”
Inspired to change the narrative of aspirational careers within the black community, the two want to show that careers in science are cool.
“Young black women need to see that it’s OK you don’t have to ... be in entertainment, be an instagram baddie, there’s more than that,” Frazier said. “It’s OK, you know black women and black girl magic covers a whole plethora of subjects especially STEM because we’re needed.”
Frazier and Coleman said the app is going to take over the tech scene.
“There's not going to be anything people are talking about besides us,” Coleman said. “I believe it. I'm not trying to talk cocky … but I really do believe that this is going to be something that's big.”
The Fresh App is available for download in the App Store and Google Play starting March 16.
Faith Riggs is the Women and Gender Issues reporter. Contact her a firstname.lastname@example.org.