Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women 2023: Enrichly Founder Margo Jordan "Self-esteem is a muscle that needs to be worked out every single day, and Enrichly would be considered the gym for that muscle to be worked out."

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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Enrichly founder Margo Jordan

Ever had a moment where you've thought to yourself, "How I wish they'd taught this in school?" While the answer to that is most likely "yes" for most of us, the circumstances that'd result in such an observation would probably differ from person to person. For Margo Jordan, this wish was something of a foundational element when she launched Enrichly, which is today a personal development platform for children.

"My core belief is that you teach best what you need the most," Jordan says. "Growing up as a young girl in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with low self-esteem, I was at risk of not living up to my full potential. This problem I faced led to the solution that I developed through the first version of my startup in 2017: a brick-and-mortar self-esteem learning center for girls in Houston, Texas, and we quickly expanded to include boys in response to parental demand. In 2021, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, we ultimately pivoted into an e-learning platform and gaming app that makes personal development accessible to kids globally."

The aforementioned series of events are thus what led to Enrichly's current iteration in 2023: a global edtech platform focused on self-esteem that leverages the power of technology, gamification, and data to help youth realize their full potential. "The vision behind this company is to ensure that children globally have access to self-esteem development learning tools," Jordan continues. "Self-esteem is a muscle that needs to be worked out every single day, and Enrichly would be considered the gym for that muscle to be worked out. I chose the name 'Enrichly,' because I essentially wanted to enrich people's lives with the tool of self-esteem; a tool that helps people reach their full potential."

With its offering of monthly and annual subscriptions, Enrichly can be used by all children –from kindergarten to twelfth grade- under the supervision of their parents, guardians, tutors, etc. "However, we also work with school districts, youth focused organizations, municipalities and healthcare providers on an enterprise level, where we can reach a larger number of children," Jordan adds. The startup has grown from its base in America as well- Enrichly made its way to the UAE in 2023. In fact, during the recently concluded Expand North Star (a global startup event that took place at the Dubai Harbor from October 15-18, 2023), the enterprise closed a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), a government entity based in the UAE capital that is dedicated towards promoting optimal child development and well-being.

Related: Enterprising Children Need To Learn To See The World Differently

Image courtesy Enrichly.

So, how exactly does Enrichly ensure that self-esteem can be inculcated in a child? "Enrichly's approach involves implementing self-esteem development programs digitally and on-site, incorporating a personal development curriculum," Jordan replies. "We collect actionable insights by comparing students' self-esteem before and after participation, demonstrating the growth achieved. Furthermore, we evaluate the impact of improved self-esteem on academic performance, mental health outcomes, and other relevant factors. These evaluations continue throughout the program, and we are able to track and adapt for the best results, personalized to the child."

According to Jordan, negative life experiences, lack of positive role models, bullying, and societal pressures are among the key impediments to building a child's self-esteem. But while these situations represent one end of the spectrum, Jordan is acutely aware that pushing young kids towards unhealthy self-image mindsets, such as narcissism, shouldn't be the end result either. "At Enrichly, we are focused on the healthy aspect of self-esteem," Jordan says. "In the past, there have been initiatives to encourage high self-esteem, which can sometimes be just as damaging as low self-esteem. We've seen that children with healthy self-esteem, however, tend to be more successful in school, stay out of trouble, and remain well-adjusted through the majority of their lives. By providing a space where children can go to learn and develop a healthy self-esteem from a young age, we will see the benefits for generations to come. We've learned through various studies that a higher self-esteem in a child leads to increased success and progress as an adult."

Since its inception, Enrichly has helped over 200,000 students deal with their self-esteem issues, with 92% of the children reporting that using the platform has helped them feel better about themselves. Jordan has also seen her startup get accepted into the 2022 cohort for the Google For Startups Founder Academy, a four-month virtual program for pre-seed and seed stage startups across the US. During that endeavor, Jordan also won the Black Founders Fund III Award, a title awarded by the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund to Black-led startups in Africa, Brazil, Europe, and the United States. Jordan's biggest win this year, however, happened when she won US$500,000 at the Venture Atlanta 2023 Startup Showcase, an American technology innovation event where tech startups in the country's southeast region get to pitch to renowned investors. Pondering on her accomplishments thus far, Jordan says, "Each year, I've seen my achievements grow significantly, with my proudest accomplishment being my ability to achieve greater success than the previous year. In a relatively short span, I've accomplished many significant goals."

Related: A Return To Roots: Black Flamingo Beauty Co-Founders Mona Gulaid And Mariam Abdillahi Have Created A UAE-Based Natural Skincare Brand That Pays Homage To Their Native Somaliland

Enrichly founder Margo Jordan. Image courtesy Enrichly.

While Enrichly is Jordan's brainchild, she is quick to also note that her entrepreneurial journey has been aided by the support of those who work alongside her. But guiding a team towards a singular vision, Jordan says, is much more layered than some may be led to believe. "My perspective on leadership has undergone significant transformation during my journey as the founder and CEO of this company," Jordan reveals. "I've come to understand that effective leadership is not just about authority; it's about making substantial sacrifices, and meticulously crafting and executing the optimal strategies for the team I've assembled. Leadership, in and of itself, is one facet, but becoming a truly great leader entails a multifaceted approach. Being a great leader involves continuous investment in my team's growth and development, not just in terms of skills, but also in terms of motivation and morale. Additionally, it requires a keen and everwatchful eye on the dynamics within the company, being attuned to changes that are imperative for our ongoing growth and success."

Jordan, however, doesn't wish to paint an idealistic picture of what team building entails. Very candidly, she shares that she had to take some incredibly tough calls while initially assembling the right group of people to build Enrichly. "Very early on, I recognized the necessity of specific traits within the team to realize our vision," Jordan says. "And so, to reach the point where I now have a capable and passionate team, I had to make several hiring and firing decisions. Overcoming this obstacle taught me the importance of hiring deliberately, and letting go of those who didn't align with our goals swiftly. Furthermore, I realized the significance of setting clear boundaries with employees. My early struggles with boundary-setting taught me a valuable lesson as a founder. It became evident that my failure to establish boundaries was not only draining resources, but also impeding the company's progress. This experience compelled me to mature and evolve in my role."

All of these anecdotes, however, raise the question of how Jordan managed to keep herself going on the days when success didn't seem like an imminent result. "Well, for starters, revisiting why I embarked on this journey acts as a powerful driving force, helping me persevere," she says. "Also, the concept of 'failing fast, and failing forward' is a mantra that consistently guides my actions. It reminds me that calculated risks are often necessary for growth, and there's no reward without stepping into the realm of uncertainty. Therefore, I continually experiment with new ideas, and rapidly iterate on them, prioritizing the discovery of what doesn't work, as much as what does. This willingness to adapt and learn from setbacks is a critical aspect of building a resilient and successful business."

Of course, such a positive mindset is often anchored by a core underlying notion, and in the case of Jordan, it is her staunch belief in the social impact her platform creates. "My passion is fueled by the knowledge that I'm addressing a significant global issue affecting over 85% of the adult population," Jordan says. "It's this sense of purpose that drives me, knowing that I'm not only doing well for myself, but also doing good for the world." And according to Jordan, that vision has only been further strengthened through her personal experiences as a mother. "I'm fortunate to have four little ones who lovingly call me mom," Jordan reveals. "Their presence in my life provides me with an unwavering drive to continue pursuing my passion. I'm motivated by the belief that my efforts will contribute to creating a better world for them. Knowing that the solutions my company offers can help alleviate real-world challenges they may encounter, both now and in the future, instills in me a deep sense of urgency and dedication."

Related: Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women 2022: Desiree Vlekken, Founder And CEO, 4get-Me-Not

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Writer, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Writer at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is keen on pursuing and writing stories on people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

A bibliophile, chai addict, and photography enthusiast, she can be often found (animatedly) talking about Kdramas, BTS, cricket, novels, and comic book films.

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