LyNea “LB” Bell is a serial entrepreneur celebrating the anniversary of her launch of GotConn.com, the first search engine founded and launched by a woman, and an African American, one year ago. After launching the privacy-focused search platform in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday last year, the celebrity talent agent has focused her efforts on making the search tool a household name by emphasizing freedom for its users.
What inspired you to start your business?
Actually it started in 2006. I was playing with my son’s puzzles. And the vision came before me, connecting people. When I looked at how we are supposed to connect all types of businesses around a community is kind of where that vision started. Fast forward to COVID; when we’re in COVID, I picked up my Bible and I was like, “OK, what do You want me to do?” And I’ve worked with engineers before, from my team for my talent agency. And we shared (how) we didn’t like cyber bullying. We saw bullying in public was wrong and so why is it OK that a machine can cyber bully in this world of the internet, right? It became a how do we use the internet privately? Why is my information being sold? I mean, when you start investigating some of those things, it’s surprising, and that’s kind of how it came about.
What are your goals for your search engine?
We want people to catch on to what this is because it’s like everybody’s programmed for the other big giant search engines automatically. So there’s an education process.
Do you like being your own boss? Do you ever think about trading it for a steady paycheck?
I do absolutely love it. I don’t think of trading it because I love the hustle of it. I’ve worked for other companies before and I helped them make millions, right? Why not do it for yourself?
What’s the best aspect of running your own business?
The total freedom and the creativity of what that is. But besides the freedom to say “this is something that a vision that I had created,” to me it’s like raising a baby. It’s good to watch this vision come to life. I believe passion and vision create the perfect business model, if used correctly. We always tell people to do what they love, right? So you can do something that you love to do. And let that be your own. It becomes a win-win.
And the worst?
Missing the steadiness of a paycheck. Because a lot of those times, you’re fronting your bills ahead of time. So that is the pros and cons, as it is in any venture. It does take some seed money to get it started. I was blessed to have seed money to be able to move forward and venture, so that’s what actually made this work for me.
What’s the biggest challenge your business has faced? And how did you deal with it?
The challenge we face right now is first, making this a household name. But also, we’re so fast forward into technology, GotConn is actually bringing you back to basics. And a lot of features people expect haven’t caught up yet to our privacy standards. Users want a lot of additional features, but that entails us capturing your information. And that’s one thing we don’t want to do. So finding out additional, creative ways to give the users what they want and staying relevant is an everyday job.
Has being African American affected your business?
I don’t believe it has, actually. I look at myself as a woman in business. I’m not reminded of color unless you’re reminding me of color, but I’m a woman in this industry and in this business. And that I think is a positive for me.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to start their own business?
Don’t listen to the naysayers. My phrase that I say is: Do you, be you and just show them the vision was given to you. Stick with your vision and just keep moving forward, regardless of what anybody else sees. You do what is in your heart — believe in it and it will work. You don’t need permission to do your own business, not from anybody.