Black tech founder Dawn Dickson makes history, raises $2.3m through crowdfunding

Mildred Europa Taylor Jul 8, 2020 at 04:00pm

July 08, 2020 at 04:00 pm | Money Moves, Women

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor | Associate Editor

July 08, 2020 at 04:00 pm | Money Moves, Women

Dawn Dickson. Photo: Medium

Dawn Dickson, the founder and CEO of smart vending retail company PopCom, is a serial entrepreneur well-known for raising capital through crowdfunding means. In 2019, she made history using the same fundraising route usually overlooked by Black entrepreneurs.

Dickson became the first Black founder in history worldwide to raise the highest secure token offering (STO) crowdfunding round from the general public. Her company PopCom was able to raise $1.07 million in capital from more than 2,117 investors.

The tech genius did it again recently after successfully completing PopCom’s second equity crowdfunding campaign on Start Engine. In just 47 days, PopCom raised $1.3 million in capital exclusively from crowdfunding investors, the first time ever for any female founder, according to Black News. In effect, Popcom’s crowdfunding total is $2.3 million.

PopCom, launched in 2017 as a software company, has been building software for the self-service retail industry using artificial intelligence, face recognition, and more. Its smart vending kiosks allow brands to engage with customers, sell more products and understand sales metrics.

The goal of its recent crowdfunding campaign was to reach more customers, grow its operations, and meet the demand for more automated retail machines on the back of COVID-19. Entrepreneurs say self-service and automation are the future of retail, and amid the pandemic, Dickson believes that smart vending kiosks are one of the greatest tools for businesses following social distancing rules.

“Although the timing is sensitive due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we must continue to look towards the future and build products for our customers,” said Dickson.

“While some industries are hurting, the requirement for social distancing validates the need for vending and retail automation. We believe that the market will continue to move towards self-service and contactless retail. Vending machines and convenience services are becoming more essential, and retailers are looking for more ways to deliver their products direct-to-customer with less human friction. We are excited about what is to come.”

Dickson’s historic crowdfunding campaign was made possible by Regulation CF secure token offering (STO), a fundraising instrument that allows companies to secure investment from the general public, both accredited and non-accredited investors.

“It was important to me to be able to raise capital this way to build and encourage intergenerational wealth in often overlooked communities,” Dickson said. “I aim to bridge the gap between venture capital and everyday people.” 

Dickson has been to school for Information Technology and served in the tech field for many years. Her belief, since she entered into entrepreneurship, has been to raise funds from her friends and family. As Black entrepreneurs usually find it difficult to raise money to launch and grow their companies, her story should tell many that different funding mechanisms like crowdfunding can make a big impact.

“The friends and family are us. It’s crowdfunding…,” she said.

Her tech company PopCom is now making moves to introduce new technology pilots in 2020, beginning with cannabis and alcohol.

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