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Young Indy Entrepreneurs: LaToya Johnson

Posted by: IndyHub
Posted: September 24, 2019
Categories: Culture & Diversity, Community Partners

We feel like there is always an awesome local business or company popping up in our city. And more times than not, there’s a young go-getter behind the scenes working their tail off to make it all happen. In partnership with 1 Million Cups Indianapolis, we’re working to highlight these outstanding entrepreneurs and share their story.

Who are you, how old are you, and which Indy neighborhood do you call home?

LaToya Johnson, 37, Butler Tarkington

Now, tell us more about your business!

AwayZone is a multicultural community platform that connects culturally focused businesses to consumers who are looking for culturally specific experiences while traveling. We help them find their zone away from home!

What void are you filling with your company and what led you to start your own venture?

AwayZone was created in response to the lack of awareness and access to consumer markets where minority business owners can successfully sell their products. This lack effects the consumer’s knowledge of, and engagement with, culturally specific businesses. Additionally, limited cultural focus and algorithmic bias in mainstream resource matching platforms has contributed to the disconnect between minority business owners and their targeted customer bases.

Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I have not always wanted to be an entrepreneur. However, I was frequently encountering the problem of not be able to locate products and services that were specific to my needs as an African American woman. I was also seeing this issue expressed in social media and during casual conversations. I was also capable of recognizing that this is a problem other minority groups encounter as well. So, putting myself in a position to be a problem solver has been fulfilling and has continued to feed my drive as an entrepreneur.

What’s your favorite part about starting your business in Indianapolis?

My favorite part about starting AwayZone in Indianapolis is connecting with people who have the same passion and energy towards true inclusion and equity. It is nice to have encounters with people who truly believe in community support.

How can people learn more about your products or services? Who is your ideal target customer?

Anyone interested in learning more about AwayZone should visit our website or follow us on Instagram (@awayzoneinc). We strive to support businesses that are 51% owned by a racial, ethnic, religious affiliation
and sexual orientation and the people who support them.

In the spirit of 1 Million Cups, what can our community do for you right now? What are your biggest needs?

One of AwayZone’s biggest needs to connect with someone experienced in Sales. Our team is growing and after completing a SWOT analysis, we discovered that the team needs expertise in that field. If you know of someone, be sure to reach out to LaToya at ljohnson@awayzones.com.

As a program of the Kauffman Foundation, 1 Million Cups Indianapolis works with entrepreneurs, empowering them with the tools and resources to break down barriers that stand in the way of starting and growing their businesses. Mr. Kauffman believed it was a fundamental right for anyone who had a big idea to be able to bring it to life—and we’re here to fulfill that mission. Learn more and attend an upcoming meetup!

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