Our inaugural Small Businessperson of the Year award is proudly presented by the Small Business Center at CPCC, assisting more than 2,500 startup entrepreneurs and small business owners annually through networking events, free seminars, no-cost counseling, a business resource library, and tuition-based and non-degree courses.
If you’re a parent who spends any time on Facebook, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Fundanoodle.
The line of low-tech toys and educational games has quickly developed a following in Charlotte — and now it’s going national. Moms across the country are now selling the products through “sip and shops” and home-based parties.
CEO and owner April Whitlock is the driving force behind its success. She saw the potential in the product line when it was a part of Carolina Pad, but selling poorly in stores like Toys R Us. She pulled out of retail and pivoted to the direct selling model, recruiting parents passionate about the product to do the marketing.
Since launching the company in 2014, Whitlock has grown Fundanoodle rapidly. Today, the company boasts 4 employees and more than 130 ambassadors nationally.
All that led Whitlock to be named as a finalist for our Small Businessperson of the Year award in the Kids + Family category.
Get to know April Whitlock better and learn from her success with these five questions. Responses have been edited for space and clarity.
What’s the first hour of your day look like?
The first hour of my real life is getting three kids out the door to three different schools on three different bell schedules. I focus on the family first.
The next hour is for me — Orangetheory or yoga. I focus on self-care and health second.
Then I dive into the business. The first hour there is responding to all questions we get via email or social media from our field representatives, answering inquiries about our products or ambassador program and making sure everything is getting shipped out of the warehouse on time.
What’s the most valuable business lesson you’ve learned?
I’m still working on it, but it’s being patient in the process and the plan. It takes so much more time to build a business than you can ever imagine, and it’s so easy to look for a way out when the going gets tough. Learning to live in the long view is hard, but necessary.
What’s a recent purchase of less than $100 that you love?
I started using Slybroadcast to add another communication touch point for our customers and potential ambassadors. It’s a very easy and cost-effective way to leave voicemails. Hearing the voice of someone passionate about the products and company has more impact than an email.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
“Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living,” by Shauna Niequist.
What other small businessperson do you admire?
The three ladies behind CLT Find: Toni South, Christy Pope and Britt Misenheimer.
Photos by Lauren Rosenau Photography