In Conversation with Samantha Sinclair of Pathway to Purpose

Samantha Sinclair1_Blog Header

Samantha Sinclair sits down to talk about building Pathway to Purpose to help prepare first generation students for college, the impact of the pandemic on education related services, and how she found meaningful ways to connect with students remotely.

Describe your business in a few words?

Pathway to Purpose is an education innovation company. We partner with middle schools, high schools and community organizations to create/enhance their college going culture by providing services such as college trips, student, parent and teacher development workshops. We also customize special events like financial aid fairs and college awareness days. Pathway to Purpose has served 23 school districts, partnered with 50 different schools and has impacted 10,000+ students. In April of 2020 amidst the pandemic we launched the “College Study Flashcards” which are 5 decks of flashcards, 24 cards in each pack created to help students prepare for college in school, at home or on the go. The flashcards are the first resource of its kind and are designed to empower students, parents, and school leaders. The categories are: Financial Aid, Types of Colleges, College Resources, Affirmations and Entrepreneur.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

Starting a small business was not a lifelong goal however, in 2016 while starting my doctorate program, I recognized many NYC high school students were facing the same college prep challenges I encountered 11 years prior in my journey to college. My vision to create solutions was clear and that is the reason I started Pathway to Purpose.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

As a former NYC Department of Education first-generation college student, I often find myself using my journey to inspire students in my community to reach their untapped potential. Prior to starting my business, I was working at CUNY Hostos Community College as the Assistant Director of College Now, a program that gives high school students the opportunity to take college courses. Over the past 10 years, I have also worked in school enrichment programs and have done private college prep consulting in Brooklyn, New York.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

No, being an entrepreneur and starting a small business was not a lifelong goal or on my radar. In 2014 I worked as a Data Analyst for an education vendor and it was the first time I realized it was possible to work as an independent vendor for the NYC Department of Education. Fast forward two years later in 2016 while starting my doctorate program, I was drawn to the fact that high school students were facing the same college prep challenges I encountered 11 years prior. My vision to create solutions was clear and that is the reason I started Pathway to Purpose.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

In 2016, while working as a Residence Hall Director, I spent my 5pm-3am hours building a listserv from scratch. I used Fiverr to build my first website and to create all marketing materials. Since the designers were in different time zones, I found myself waking between 4am-6am on most days just to catch them during their working hours, and to avoid delays. My initial marketing strategy was to create email campaigns and become registered on every list where my potential school partners searched for vendors. I would say my early marketing efforts went better than expected! My new business received tons of leads, and I closed my first contract within 4 months.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

A challenge I faced in business was not crafting interview questions specific to the role of Pathway To Purpose staff. I learned when hiring someone, to hire for enthusiasm. If an interviewee lacks energy in the interview process, it might be a warning sign they might not be able to transfer the right enthusiasm in the field of work. At Pathway To Purpose we work with hundreds of students each week, so enthusiasm is a must!

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

The accomplishment I am most proud of is the lasting impact my business has made in my local community since we got started. In year one, my goal for Pathway to Purpose was to provide students with the opportunity to explore college options beyond New York City through college tours. Fast forward 4 years later and Pathway to Purpose has impacted the college preparedness of more than 10,000+ Department of Education students, serving students and families of all races, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds in 23 school districts across 48 different partner schools in New York City. My goal now is to impact 1,000,000 students through our first of its kind innovation “College Study Flashcards.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

My go-to interview question is “What does the word culture mean to you?” I like this interview question because the word “culture” can mean so many different things and so the question often entices the interviewee to dig into their unique experiences to come up with an answer and that helps me to get to know them better.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

The impact of the pandemic on Pathway to Purpose  business was the cancellation of all our in person services; 39 student workshops, 30 college trips and 4 special events, a $144,970 loss in revenue. 

The impact of the pandemic on the education system particularly in NYC has largely meant the shut down of many school districts in-school instruction, with approximately 70% of all students now in remote-only instruction and all middle and high schools now remote-only.  It has also traumatized our local community, with many students grieving the loss of friends and family members. The economic impact of  COVID-related shutdowns has simultaneously reduced budgets for many school programs that students depend on, including the college and career services that my business provides.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

In 5 years, with adequate support and a robust strategy 1,000,000 students will have the Pathway to Purpose College Study Flashcards which is a simple and fun college prep resource fit for every student between elementary school and high school.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

“Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.” With over 70 canceled events, thousands  of dollars in event merchandise, 2020 Pathway to Purpose could’ve easily tanked. Instead we focused on solutions and innovation to create our first product “College Study Flashcards”

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

The thing I know now that I wish I knew when I started was the importance of building efficient systems within my business. Being hyper focused on implementing good systems, means a decrease in the amount of time spent on repetitive tasks and it drastically improves my teams ability to function at a high level.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

To help me stay grounded I practice daily affirmations, along with weekly meditation and restorative yoga sessions.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Yes I am a big work life balance believer. I also believe in finding the balance within your normal flow state by setting intentions and not making it a chore. My best tips for work/life balance is to really detach yourself from the work part when your intention is time with family and friends and most importantly yourself. Two of my favorite ways to detach is to travel and second to find a great women’s retreat geared around wellness and growth.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I think the audience would be surprised to learn in 2016-2019 I went on over 20 trips. My top 3 included visiting a healer in Bali, writing future goals in a  castle in France and doing a Jungle tour in Belize which was a beautiful reminder that everything we will ever need to survive was created in nature.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Before you begin working, clean off your desk or table, clear away any clutter, make it feel free and open. If you’re anything like me, light a candle as well.
  • Write a task list and prioritize the tasks that make you money!
  • Before you jump into another task, ask yourself “what is my strategy?”

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Being an Entreprenista means being a boss in your world and rising to all challenges centered, well-reasoned and ready to add value to other people’s lives

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

1 Comment

  1. Miguel Melbourne on March 17, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    Really good stuff!

Leave a Comment





8 Inspiring Latinx Entreprenistas that have launched groundbreaking companies

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ve put together a list of 8 incredible Latinx women founders that have launched groundbreaking companies. Check it out: Jessica Alba: The Honest Company Founded in 2011, The Honest Company makes sustainable, well-designed products that work – built on transparency, trust, and a deep sense of purpose. In…

Susan Sarit of Operations-Made Easy on achieving your goals by getting organized

Describe your business in a few words: I am a mom, daughter, sister, business owner, and more! I started my business for both financial freedom and to be a work-at-home mom. I created Operations-Made Easy to help diverse women with the Operations of their business. Deliberative, disciplined, and detail-oriented are just a few words we…

Lisa Nutt of Make Every Minute Count on personal and professional growth

Describe your business in a few words? The Make Every Minute Count ecosystem encourages us to go (do that thing), grow (personally and professionally) and give (through a membership based family to family giving circle). What made you take the leap to start your own business? I’m a serial entrepreneur. This is the third time…

Connection Coach Kristjana Hillberg on trusting your intuition and having an open mind

Describe your business in a few words: I’m a Connection Coach who helps women unearth their deepest desires, move from auto pilot to intentional action and prioritize their wellbeing. What was your background prior to starting your own business? I’m a multipotentialite – meaning, I have tried multiple things and tested multiple careers ranging from…

Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon: Finally Back to Delicious Meals For Everyone

Cuisine varies by culture, but no matter how societies segment and define themselves, certain foods show up in households across the globe — only differing in their forms. Some of a culture’s time-honored meals are created by its culinary icons.  Among America’s culinary icons, Martha Stewart is, without question, its most trusted. In 2014, Martha…

7 Entreprenista League Members share the biggest business challenge they overcame and what it taught them

Brand Photographer Brittney Guy-Atakpo of Brittney Jean Photography The biggest business challenge I have faced is sticking to a schedule that made me feel productive and good about my work ethic. What I have learned is that there is no right or wrong schedule or routine that produces success. I have been more grateful for…

Courtney Spritzer of WorkRobe on her “secret sauce” for a successful product launch

Describe WorkRobe in a few words? WorkRobes are designed to have you looking your best during any video meeting, so you can go from bedroom to boardroom in seconds and in comfort. My mission is to reimagine what you wear to work (from home).  Can you pinpoint the moment you knew you wanted to create…

Brand Photographer Brittney Jean Guy-Atakpo on helping women show up confidently on camera

Describe your business in a few words? I’m Brittney with Brittney Jean Photography & Company. I help women show up confidently in photos and on social media to grow their brand and business. I’m a Brand Photographer and Strategist. I have over 5 years working for Fortune 100 companies in sales and marketing and over…

Lorena Tapiero of Conscious Consulting on the power of networking

Describe your business in a few words? Conscious Consulting is a Latina-owned, bilingual marketing and public relations agency with 20 years of experience in the hospitality, sports and wellness sectors. Our thoughtful, comprehensive approach helps brands establish clear communication priorities and a long-range vision for meaningful press coverage, value-added partnerships and sustainable influencer relationships. As…

Lindsay Applebaum Stuart of Mamalux on the beginning stage of business

Describe your business in a few words? Mamalux is a first-of-its-kind leakproof sleep solution for breastfeeding moms. Our Kickstarter launches on 10/19! What was your background prior to starting your own business? I spent the first 10 years of my career as a sports journalist for the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated! So this has…

Jessica Bargenquast of Lady ChangeMakers on organic marketing strategies that work

Describe your business in a few words? Lady ChangeMakers is an exclusive e-commerce platform for women-owned businesses to gain valuable exposure and sales. Most of my life I’ve been encouraged to be seen and not heard. Growing up extremely introverted and shy I felt invisible. I wanted to create a platform so women-owned businesses could…

Jennifer Gligoric of EntrePods on the importance of mindset

Describe EntrePods in a few words? Cutting-edge entrepreneur and investor network answering the question “So Now What?” for business owners powered by fractional consultants and coaches with decades worth of experience. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I had no choice.  My mother owned a staffing company for 54 years…

Certified Financial Planner Maggie Gomez on investing and building wealth

Describe your business in a few words? An accessible place where anyone can learn to invest and build wealth, regardless of their net worth. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I realized that it was only those who were already wealthy that had access to quality financial guidance. I got…

Claire Jones of Cushy Couture on shifting paradigms in the fashion industry

Describe your business in a few words? Cushy Couture is a customer-driven clothing brand that creates high quality sweatpants in a wide range of colors and patterns that come in three different inseam lengths because we believe that you don’t have to settle for less. We create functional sweatpants that will last you for multiple…

Writer, Speaker, Podcaster, and Life Coach Chelsea Austin on taking care of yourself first

Describe your business in a few words? I advocate for others to find their own self-worth and acceptance through self-care, love, respect, and storytelling. What made you take the leap to start your own business? When I started writing my book and my blog, I don’t think I ever realized it would become a business.…