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Meet The Women of The Blockchain: Dawn Dickson Founder & CEO of PopCom

I use my success and access to help other women and people of color, that is what I am most passionate about. Helping other women have the…


I use my success and access to help other women and people of color, that is what I am most passionate about. Helping other women have the confidence and tenacity to navigate through all of the ‘no’s’ and discouraging data around women raising capital and succeeding in these male dominated industries and to keep going. I do this by mentoring several women entrepreneurs of all colors/race/ethnicity and also by donating my time to speak at events, facilitate workshops, and blog about resources that will have a direct impact on these under estimated /under represented founders.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Dawn Dickson Founder & CEO of PopCom. Dawn W. Dickson is a serial entrepreneur with over 16 years of experience in marketing and business development. She launched four successful cash flow positive companies since 2002, her most recent ventures Flat Out of Heels (rollable flats for women to get relief from painful heels) and PopCom after identifying a need develop a software solution to make vending machines more intelligent. Dawn has received numerous awards and accolades for her business savvy and pitching skills, and has been invited to speak on numerous panels and workshops and featured in countless media outlets including Forbes, Black Enterprise, Fortune, Venture Beat, Huffington Post, Essence Magazine, The Miami Herald, CNBC/Yahoo series ‘The Biz Fix’ with Marcus Lemonis, and MSNBC ‘Your Biz’ Elevator Pitch. A recognized leader in entrepreneurship and digital marketing, Dawn is featured in Who’s Who in Black Columbus, Who Who’s in Black Atlanta, honored as one of Legacy Miami’s Top 40 Under 40 Leaders in South Florida, and listed among the ’50 Young Visionary Women Leaders to Watch’ by Innov8tiv Magazine. Dawn received her B.A. in Journalism from The Ohio State University. Additionally, Dawn was selected to participate in some of the nation’s top accelerator programs for entrepreneurs including the NewME (San Francisco), Canopy Boulder (Boulder, Colorado) and Techstars (Los Angeles) and is recognized as one of the nation’s top entrepreneurs on the rise.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I started my first tech company in 2002, a digital marketing platform for events and entertainment and have worked in or with technology companies since.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

PopCom is an automated retail technology company, we have a developed a SaaS product for vending machines and digital kiosks to collect customer data at the point of sale. We use facial recognition to collect anonymous customer information including age, gender, emotion, engagement and calculate conversion rates; we use machine learning to deliver targeted content and advertising to the consumer based on their demographic and shopping profile; and we use blockchain technology to sell regulated products in machines using a biometric hash to verify identity. Our software is powering the future of retail.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes I am very grateful for Brian Brackeen, the CEO of Kairos and the first advisor to join the PopCom Team (then called Solutions Vending International) in 2016. I met Brian in 2012 while living in Miami, Florida when I was just getting started with my company Flat Out of Heels. Brian was building Kairos and was working out of a co-working space called The Lab Miami. I won a month free working space there from the Young Professional organization and I met him there while working. He was the only Black person there besides me, we immediately bonded and became fast friends. Brian has continued to be a friend, mentor and advisor for me — even before he formally joined. Before the company was funded, and when I was seriously strapped for cash (i.e. BROKE) Brian would often buy me a meal and sit me down for words of encouragement. He taught me how to raise money, build a financial model, and he taught me about ICOs — which changed my life.

What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

I think crypto currency as a decentralized payment form is exciting because it takes the control from the central banks and eliminates the fees. I am excited about all of the uses for blockchain that can improve real problems today including — protecting customer data in a retail environment, prove and verify your identity, facilitate payments, run a decentralized marketplace, protect patient records, give recording artists royalties for their music and track it, certify a supply chain, invest in real estate as a group and so much more. I am excited that now people have control over their identity and their data more than ever.


What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

I worry that the bad actors will continue to ruin crypto, blockchain and ICOS for legitimate businesses and serious investors. All of the negative press surrounding using crypto and the SEC crackdown has made people much more cautious. The ‘white paper ICOs’ ruined it for many and now we have to fight to prove that our use case and our utility is valid. Before that was not even a question. One thing I do know for sure is that regardless of what regulators try to do, crypto is not going anywhere and neither is the blockchain. Not unless they shut down every single computer in the world that has record of it and that is not possible. As long as one computer remains the ledger lives forever. I also worry that all of these tokens will not have an actual use in the marketplace and the companies will fail because they did not clearly think through their utility before taking customer money.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

I use my success and access to help other women and people of color, that is what I am most passionate about. Helping other women have the confidence and tenacity to navigate through all of the ‘no’s’ and discouraging data around women raising capital and succeeding in these male dominated industries and to keep going. I do this by mentoring several women entrepreneurs of all colors/race/ethnicity and also by donating my time to speak at events, facilitate workshops, and blog about resources that will have a direct impact on these under estimated /under represented founders.

What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?

  1. Never take no for an answer — to me ‘no’ just means not right now. You can always go back if you want to. A prime example of this is most of my current investors told me no once or twice, I never stopped updating them, calling them, and never stopped working. It paid off.
  2. Don’t listen to the noise…and there is A LOT of noise and fake news, especially around female founders, what we can do, what we have done, and what our success rates are. If I see one more article about the XXX number black woman has raised $1 million I am going to scream, stop counting every woman that raises money as a victory for the VC world.
  3. Celebrate the customers, the team, the community, the REVENUE as the success metrics, don’t focus all of your time on fundraising, customer acquisition is a much better use of your time. I stopped raising money in February because it was taking too much time away from me being with the team and building product. I realized I could extend my runway with customer revenue and not have to ask VCs for money, that is what we are doing.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

If I could have a private breakfast with anyone right now it would be Jeff Hoffman, the founder of Priceline.com but most importantly the inventor of the kiosk. My company PopCom has developed software to innovate his invention and we are changing the way people use kiosks and vending machines and using blockchain for regulated retail products and fractional ownership/revenue share/dividend model for the machines. I want to share with him what we are working on and ask him to join our Board.

Originally published at medium.com

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