Founder Profile: Adonica Shaw
AUTHOR, COACH, ADVOCATE
Adonica Shaw is the Founder and CEO of Wingwomen, an online platform that provides access to peer support and health advice. She placed in the semi-finalist round of the business pitch competition in the Wharton Entrepreneurship Growth Accelerator Program in the summer of 2021
Wingwomen was developed to provide access to valuable health and wellness information to support women who want to be active participants in their own health. Adonica created the women’s health social network after surviving a “Code Blue” Eclamptic Crisis just 3 days postpartum and went on to create the inaugural and internationally recognized Parental Mental Health Awareness Week. She’s become a powerful voice for women who are navigating stress and burnout while navigating ups and downs in their health.
Adonica also received healthcare leadership certificate training through the MIT-Harvard Medical School Healthcare Innovation program, and Duke University, Corporate Education. She was named one of the top 136 Black Innovators in STEM + Arts by Wonder Women Tech, as well as a 2021 Globant “Women Who Build” nominee.
Tell us a bit about your company
Wingwomen is a health-focused social media Social Network where women with reproductive health conditions support each other.
What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
I was inspired to create a digital environment where women could easily connect to peer support after being diagnosed with a reproductive health issue. I wanted them to have a place where they could find validation, and have people they could vent to that weren’t family or close friends. I wanted them to be able to be vulnerable with women who “got them” and build strong long-term relationships.
What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?
With the birth of my third child, I experienced a condition called Preeclampsia and I was forced to deliver my child at 34 weeks. A few days after my delivery I experienced a Code Blue, near-death experience. Although I survived it took me a few years to rehabilitate my health and improve my health. I navigated this largely alone and it was very difficult to find people to talk to given the intimate nature of my experience.
After healing, I felt the need to create a digital environment for women who were navigating this health journey as well. Based on my own experience my health really started to improve once I found other women I could open up to. Wingwomen was born out of a need to make these connections easier for women like myself to find.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
We’ve had two really big wins. The first was when Wingwomen placed in the semi-finalist round of the business pitch competition in the Wharton, Entrepreneurship Growth Accelerator Program in the summer of 2021. And the second was the acceptance and completion of the Milestone Makers program with the Nasdaq Entrepreneurship Center and having my photo and our company logo on the Nasdaq tower in March 2022.
What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?
You can’t scale with one. Having a team of people who believe in your vision is as important.
What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
Fundraising to add team members. Right now we have momentum, but not enough hands to help with the workload. We’re hoping to raise enough money to cover several key hires by the end of the year.
What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?
The biggest surprise was how many times you have to pivot in the beginning. Just because you want the company to be a certain thing when you set out, doesn’t mean thats what your users ( or the market wants). I was surprised by how nimble I needed to be when it came to building and growing the company.
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?
My answer is two fold. For the most part it’s being able to provide a level of support and compassion that I didn’t get when I was navigating my postpartum care on my own. But in addition to that I feel a level of pride for the work I’ve personally done, and continue to do to lead our mission to help women. I’ve experienced a lot of personal growth in these past few years and I’ve seen how it’s helped me be a stronger founder. and make deeper connections because of it.
How can the WAFFA community help you?
We are currently looking for angel investors.
Connect with Adonica here!