The opportunity to network with like-minded professionals is often one of the most valuable benefits of conferences, mixers, meetups, and other events. But finding the right matches among your peers at events isn’t always easy. Mixtroz is a Black-owned business with the mission of helping event attendees build relationships with connections they might otherwise have missed.

Mixtroz co-founder Ashlee Ammons discussed the company, its genesis, and its vision in the Founders Unfound podcast interview. She spoke with Dan Kihanya, a serial entrepreneur who launched Founders Unfound as a destination site for stories about startup pioneers from underrepresented and underestimated backgrounds. 

“Mixtroz stands for the words ‘mixer’ and ‘introduction’ smushed together,” Ammons, who is African American, explains in her Founders Unfound interview. She and co-founder Kerry Schrader—who happens to be her mother—began building their company when they realized that event attendees needed better tools to help them make the most of their meetup experiences, both in-person and virtually.


The Road to Serendipity

The journey wasn’t easy. Ammons admits that in 2015, when she and Schrader first realized that a mobile app would be the key to making their vision a reality, she barely knew what an app was, let alone how to build one.

Still, Ammons says “serendipity” quickly became the watchword for the fledgling company that eventually became Mixtroz. A series of fortunate events led Schrader to CES 2015, where she bumped into the attendees who would become Mixtroz’s lead developers. And today, the company aims to create similarly serendipitous events for its customers. 

Ammons and Schrader aren’t your typical tech startup founders. In addition to being women of color, they have no roots in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston, or other acknowledged tech hotbeds. Ammons was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and received her undergraduate degree from Baldwin Wallace University, a liberal arts school in Berea, Ohio. During the early days of Mixtroz, Schrader lived in Tennessee. And today, Mixtroz is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.

Nonetheless, this mother-daughter entrepreneurial team isn’t letting geographical considerations stop them from growing Mixtroz. Having weathered the turbulent 2020, when Covid-19 cast a pall on the entire in-person events business, Mixtroz is poised to continue its journey into 2022 and beyond. In part, it does so with a recent funding round in excess of $1 million led by Black Star Fund, a venture capital firm founded by Kwame Anku that invests exclusively in minority-owned businesses.

Tune in to the Founders Unfound podcast to hear Ammons’ full Founders Unfound interview with Kihanya. She elaborates on such topics as scaling Mixtroz as a startup business, “smart collisions,” and her experience being the first intern hired by basketball superstar LeBron James.

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